Brayden Fengler / July 13, 2022
The Canucks look to close out day one of NHL Free Agency with five new players now under the franchise’s banner.
Vancouver grabbed players from all over the ice, two centres, a right winger, and even a goaltender. Some names were bigger than others, and some positions were clearly waited more than others as well. But regardless of how the pieces fell, it’s clear that July 13th was not a day off for GM Patrik Allvin and President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford.
Curtis Lazar has been a depth forward for the Boston Bruins over the last two years, and before that, he has dressed for three other NHL teams, Buffalo, Calgary, and Ottawa, who he was drafted by in the 2013 draft at 17th overall.
Lazar is labeled as a centre but has the ability to play on the wing as well. What comes to mind with his signing is the Jason Dickinson signing from last summer. Dickinson was a depth centre set to make the Canucks stronger up the middle and prevent captain Bo Horvat from playing so many match-up minutes.
Ultimately Dickinson did not pan out in that vein for the Canucks. Dickinson though even holds better production numbers than Lazar over the last few seasons, so hopefully, Lazar has other components to his game that will make his addition different than that of Dickinson.
Wyatt Kalynuk Is a player likely to have less effect on the team than Lazar, but he is also the only defenceman that the Canucks picked up on the day. Kalynuk has been up and down between the AHL and the NHL over the last two seasons, with his old club Chicago, and has only dressed for a total of 26 NHL games as a 25-year-old.
Kalynuk is also a left-shot defenceman, which is puzzling as the Canucks seem to be more in need of right-shot defencemen. Kalynuk has committed to a one-year, two-way deal, posing little risk to the club at his term and price point.
On a day when the Leafs acquired Adam Gaudette, at least we took a little piece from them too (yes Gaudette didn’t come from the Canucks this year, but his absence in this city is still felt in my heart.)
Ilya Mikheyev, is a right winger who had the best season of his career last year, earning himself 32 points in 53 games. A massive jump from the 17 he earned in just 54 games the year prior. Additionally, even though he only had one round to do it in, Mikheyev earned 4 points in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
At 4 years and $4.75 per, Mikheyev’s signing is definitely the biggest of the day for the Canucks. Quite honestly it’s hard not to be excited about the 27-year-olds potential, especially at that price. On a day when Erik Gudbranson got the same term for $4M per year, it’s hard not to look at Mikheyev’s deal as anything but positive.
If Curtis Lazar is centre depth then Dakota Joshua is the depth to round out the depth that Lazar brings. Joshua has signed a two-year one-way contract with the Canucks. The 26-year-old 2014 fifth-round draft pick has played in a total of 42 games for the St. Louis Blues during his NHL career and has 9 points to show for it as a result.
Joshua was not signed because he’s going to fight Petey for his centre roll. He was likely signed with eyes to become the fourth-line centre if Lazar ends up seeing more time on the wing rather than up the middle. Joshua’s sample size as an NHL player doesn’t give fans much to go off of at the moment, but his actual size of six feet tall and 206 pounds points to the Canucks making an effort to get bigger.
To top it off the Canucks sign the 28-year-old netminder Collin Delia to a one-year deal. Delia has been with the Blackhawks his whole career, going up and down between the minors and the NHL in each year with the club.
Collin could likely be the club’s third-stringer. Potentially looking at 10-15 starts on the year, allowing Thatcher Demko some more time to rest, and taking responsibility off Spencer Martin’s back to not have to be the Canucks’ lone goalie in the event of a Demko Injury.
Delia is taller than Martin and nearly the same height as Demko, and would be the only of the three goalies to weigh in at over 200 pounds. Delia has struggled to hold a save percentage of above .900 during his combined 32 career NHL games, but a goalie in Delia’s new position does not have to be lights out. The Canucks just need to hope that when they need him, he can play his role well.
That’s It For Now.
In a parallel universe where Benning was still around it may have been the Canucks signing Gudbranson to a deal totaling $16 million, but thankfully that is not the world we’re living in.
Without a full season of Allvin and Rutherford behind us, it’s harder to judge these moves off the hop, compared to how easy it became to see the writing on the walls when Benning made his FA pick-ups every July. The new Canucks management has earned a level of wait and see, and with the exception of Mikheyev and maybe Lazar, that is likely what fans will have to do with their new free agents. Wait and see.