Vancouver Canucks 2020 Offseason Overview: Three Free Agents Leave

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Canucks offseason questions

After a disappointing finish to the 2019-20 season, Jim Benning had to make some tough decisions to try and make the Canucks the best they could during the Vancouver Canucks offseason. The team lost in the second round to one of its growing rivals in the Vegas Golden Knights. In order to try and compete against the Golden Knights and the rest of the league, the Canucks got rid of some of the old faces and replaced them with so new fresh blood.

Why couldn’t they win the Stanley Cup

As mentioned before the Canucks advanced to the second round where they ultimately were eliminated by the Golden Knights. Vancouver players should not be ashamed of their defeat they fight extremely hard and pushed the series to seven games. The team was playing at a level many fans did not expect this soon. The canucks are loaded with budding talent that outplayed all expectations of them. 

The injury bug, unfortunately, followed the Canucks into the NHL’s bubble as Vancouver lost key players such as Jacob Markstrom to injury. Surprisingly there is a positive outcome from this injury. This surprising positive comes in the form of young goaltender Thatcher Demko.

Demko replaced Markstrom during the second-round series against Vegas. Demko played out of his mind as he won two consecutive games including pitching a shutout. His magic did not carry on into game seven, but Canucks fans should be very excited for his future as it is a very promising one.

Free agent losses

Canucks general manager, Benning, knew he was going to have trouble bringing back core pieces of his roster so he decided to go all in and make a splash at the trade deadline to try and make his team a Stanley Cup contender.

At the 2020 trade deadline, the Canucks went all in by acquiring a sniper that formerly played for the Los Angeles Kings. Centerman Tyler Toffoli was a massive piece in the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship in 2014. The Canucks hoped he could bring the same magic north of the border.

Toffoli was actually an amazing player during his short time with Vancouver. During his ten regular-season games with the Canucks, Toffoli managed to score six goals and add four assists for ten total points. After putting up a point per game in the regular season for the Canucks, Toffoli continued his success by scoring two goals and two assists for four total points in seven playoff games.

During the Canucks offseason, Toffoli cashed in on his recent success as he signed a four-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens worth $17 million.

Jacob Markstrom: Team MVP leaves for Calgary

Markstrom was perhaps the MVP for the Canucks in the 2019-20 season after a career season. Markstrom was amazing as the starting goalie for Vancouver. He earned his first all-star appearances and best a career-best save percentage. The 30-year-old goalie posted a .918 save percentage and a 2.75 goals-against average with the Canucks during the 2019-20 campaign.

Markstrom lead the Canucks to the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and got the Canucks past the first round for the first time since 2011 when Vancouver was the Stanley Cup runner ups. 

Thanks to his career year, Markstrom was offered a huge deal from the Calgary Flames. Markstrom will now be suiting up for his former rival after he said six year contract worth 36 million dollars with the Flames.

Chris Tanev: Ten-year Canuck also signs with Calgary

Tanev is yet another Canuck player leaving after a career season. Chris Tanev was a fantastic defenseman and leader for the Canucks during his ten-year tenure with Vancouver.

During the 2019-20 season, Tanev played in 69 games which tied for the second-most games he has played in during an NHL season. He continued the trend of scoring two goals in the regular season. In addition to his two goals, Tanev had 18 assists for 20 total points. 

The Flames decided to scoop another former Canuck to try and make their team a Stanley Cup contender. Calgary general manager, Brad Trielving signed Tanev to a four-year contract worth 18 million dollars.

Josh Leivo: Yet another Canuck will suit up for the Flames

Josh Leivo is the third former Canuck to leave and go play for the Flames organization. Leivo played in 36 games for the Canucks during the 2019-20 season. He scored seven goals and added 12 assists in his limited playing time. With the Canucks, Leivo usually played on the third or fourth line and did not earn much playing time.

After signing a one-year deal worth $875,000 with the Flames, Leivo will try to improve his production and hopefully solidify himself as a guy who can legitimately play in the top nine forward groups.

Canucks free agent signings

With all the now available money from so many free agents leaving the Canucks franchise, Benning was able to bring in some veterans to replace them for the future. The Canucks additions will help them stay competitive in the Western conference and make sure that they are a lock for the playoffs.

Braden Holtby: Former Stanley Cup champion between the pipes for Vancouver

The 2018 Stanley cup champion has had better seasons than 2019-20. By his standards, Braden Holtby had a very poor season. With the Washington Capitals Holtby posted a .897 save percentage and 3.11 goals-against average. This lead to the former Vezina Trophy winner getting a smaller contract than expected. Holtby signed a two-year contract with the Canucks worth $8.6 million.

Vancouver fans should be thrilled with the signing as Holtby’s numbers should improve behind a better defense and Holtby should have a bounce-back season to return to his usual self. With the Canucks Holtby will not be forced to be the hero every night like he was in Washington. The emergence of Demko will lead to Demko and Holtby splitting starts so neither will be overworked and they will be fresh for the playoffs.

The Canucks also acquired defensemen Nate Schmidt from the Golden Knights to try and fill the void that Tanev leaves. Schmidt, an original member of the Golden Knights was traded to the Canucks to free up money to bring in Alex Pietrangelo. Although he was traded as a cap dump, Schmidt is no slouch. He is a vocal leader for whatever team he plays for and is a solid defender that can chip in on offense.

In 59 games during the 2019-20 season, Schmidt had 31 total points with seven of them being goals. At a manageable cap hit of  $5.9 dollars, Schmidt will be a fantastic addition to the Canucks roster.

Canucks prospects

Although the Canucks lost lots of talented players during free agency Vancouver fans should not fret as the Canucks have a strong prospect pool with many players ready to burst into the NHL. Come 2020-2021 there will be a few young guns battling it out for a roster spot.

Olli Juolevi: Swedish defenseman has yet to play for the Canucks

2021 could be the much-anticipated debut of Swedish defenseman Olli Juolevi. The former sixth overall selection has been labeled as a bust by fans since he has yet to play for the big club. Juolevi has tons of upside and brings depth to a Canucks team with plenty of holes on the blue line. Although he will need to have a strong camp as he has only played 63 games in the AHL over the past two seasons.

Nils Höglander: The highly anticipated prospect could be closer to making his debut with Vancouver

Another highly anticipated prospect fans could see take the ice in green and blue this season is. Swedish left-winger Nils Höglander. Höglander spent the 2019-2020 season playing the SHL scoring nine goals while tallying seven assists. The young swede could take a giant step to North America this season and potentially earn a spot alongside fellow countryman Elias Petterson. Although not many believe he is a first-line talent just yet the experience alone playing beside Pettersson will do wonders for his development.

Jack Rathbone: Lefty-handed defenseman could make the jump after four years at Harvard

The Canucks have another left-handed defenseman that could make the jump. After finishing his four seasons at Harvard University, defenseman Jack Rathbone has his sights set on Vancouver. Rathbone is a strong skater like Quinn Hughes and possesses offensive talent. As a senior at Harvard, he put up 31 points in 28 games. Although Rathbone will likely be battling with Juolevi for a roster spot, he does have a high ceiling and if it is not this season it will likely be next he appears with the Canucks.

Michael Dipietro: Now is his time to shine with the Canucks

Last but not least with the departure of Markstrom, the door for Micheal Dipietro is wide open. Dipietro has had a few less than ideal in his appearances with the Canucks over the years, but he is a great young goaltender that can bud into a future star between the pipes with experience. If the Canucks were to use Dipietro as a backup this season he would still be exempt from next year’s NHL expansion draft.

Of the four players above fans are most likely to see the two Swedes make their debuts with the Canucks first. With many more prospects to enter in the next couple of years.

Conclusion: Many Canucks offseason moves made by Benning

Even though Vancouver lost many key pieces of their 2019-20 team they will still be a competitive team thanks to budding stars. A solid Canucks offseason pick-ups, and a deep prospect pool. Franchise face Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes will lead the charge toward the bright future of the Canucks.

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Clancy Golden is one of the biggest hockey fans in the world. He loves writing and watching the beautiful sport of hockey.