The biggest question mark for the Canucks heading into the 2013-14 season is at centre, or, as Ben Kuzma is fond of saying, the Canucks have a “riddle in the middle.” Henrik Sedin is firmly entrenched as the first line centre and, in theory, Ryan Kesler will be fully healthy and ready to centre the second line.
The other two centre jobs, however, are up for grabs. The Canucks have a number of options, from veteran free agent signing Brad Richardson, to sophomore Jordan Schroeder, to 18-year-old first round pick Bo Horvat, but each one of those options is filled with uncertainty. Richardson could slot in as the third or fourth-line centre and could even move over to the wing if need be, but he was also a frequent healthy scratch with the Los Angeles Kings. Schroeder’s ability to handle larger players in the defensive zone and provide offense at the NHL-level is still in question. And Horvat is, well, 18.
It would be in the Canucks’ best interest to add a few more names to their list of centre options, but the Canucks’ funds will be limited once they re-sign Chris Tanev. As much as I might want the Canucks to acquire Mikhail Grabovski, they simply can’t afford him unless he takes an insane paycut. Instead, they’ll have to look for cheaper options, either by signing a legitimate centre to a cheap contract before training camp or by inviting some veterans with more uncertainty to camp to provide competition and potentially earn a contract.
The Canucks have brought in veterans to battle for roster spots in training camp in the past, such as Peter Schaefer, Owen Nolan, and Todd Fedoruk. That’s not he most inspiring group of players, but with the lowered salary cap, there are still some valuable free agents on the market who might be available on bargain basement prices.
Here are five free agents that the Canucks should consider bringing in as competition.Continue Reading —›