Canucks' Offseason Gameplan - Forwards, analyzing their current talent and depth chart. In Part Two of our series, we reviewed the Canucks' Offseason Gameplan - Defence and reviewed their depth on the back end, and what the future holds for both the team and the individuals that comprise their blueline.
In the third installment of the series, we synthesize the Canucks needs, and provide them with some options that are presently available via free agency.
As Part One demonstrated, the Canucks have scoring depth, but lack size and depth in their bottom six. GM Mike Gillis has come out and said that their third line needs to get bigger, so let's look at some options out there.
Whether the Canucks are looking for some vetarn experience, some shutdown forwards, some sandpaper, or veterans to groom the youngsters, there really are some decent pick ups available.
For thier bottom six forwards, here are some options.
Christopher Higgins - Perhaps a replacement for Bernier - if you wanted one
Colby Armstrong - Another pest with size, would likely be good alongside a Hodgson for protection
Eric Nystrom - A thorn in many team's sides on the Flames, may be a good 4th liner
Raffi Torres - Sought after at the deadline, a blend of agitation and skill.
Matt Cullen - Savvy veteran with Stanley Cup pedigree and a powerplay specialist.
Brendan Morrison - a hometown boy who could help groom Hodgson. Sentimental pick, maybe not savvy.
Matthew Lombardi - a speedster who came into his own in Phoenix. Asking price may be too high, but an ideal third line center.
Manny Malhotra - demonstrated his value with the Sharks last year. Solid PK and faceoff man.
Rob Niedermayer - another hometown boy - his experience would really help.
Paul Kariya - this one is a long shot, but he could help.
Jere Lehtinen - not the player he once was, but could provide some veteran leadership on the defensive side.
Jeff Halpern - strong checking player, could fit in nicely on the bottom 6.
Fredrik Modin - was a useful addition for the Kings, the big Swede could be useful on the powerplay
On the back end, the Canucks could always use some depth. Here are some of the higher profile defenders available for the Canucks to grab come July 1.
Brett Lebda - mobile and surprising defender from Detroit.
Derek Morris - Never became what many thought he would, but a good additon nonetheless
Darryl Sydor - If they want a Mathieu Schneider experiment once more.
Pavel Kubina - a big versatile defender has bounced around in recent years.
Andy Sutton - a big mean tower of a man. Sutton impressed many late in the year in Ottawa.
Anton Volchenkov - led the NHL in blocked shots - highly sought after commodity
Dan Hamhuis - solid all around defender and a local boy
Sergei Gonchar - veteran powerplay quarterback, but pricey
Kurtis Foster - big man with a cannon of a shot
Paul Martin - a mobile defender with a defensive mindset
All in all the Canucks have quite a few options, should they wish to aggressively pursue them. While it's hardly a list for the taking due to the 29 other teams involved, PuckWatch's top picks for the Canucks would likely be as follows:
Matthew Lombardi for third line center
Colby Armstrong for third line winger
Dan Hamhuis for defence
Honourable mentions: Andy Sutton and Manny Malhotra