Canucks 2021 Free Agency Preview: Needs, targets, issues

Having pledged to be aggressive in upgrading his team, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning was so aggressive on the trade market (see, Oliver Ekman-Larsson), he hasn’t much cap space left to be aggressive in free agency.

CapFriendly.com shows the Canucks with $20.14 million of available cap space, but restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will each command $7 million (give or take a mill) in bridge deals, and newly-acquired forward Jason Dickinson also needs a deal. This will all be money well-spent, but also all the money spent. And the Canucks’ lineup will still have just 18 players, including only four defencemen under contract.

No wonder Benning bought out goalie Braden Holtby and continues to explore a trade for top-four defenceman Nate Schmidt, who between them could be parcelled off into five or six new players.

Vancouver still has serious needs, especially on defence, where quantity has suddenly joined quality as an issue. So, Benning will shop in free agency, but he’ll be looking for bargains – like Tampa Bay depth defenceman Luke Schenn, already linked to the Canucks before free agency even opens.

Salary cap space: $20.14 million

Roster size: 14/23

Cap costs for nine forwards: $28.49 million

Cap costs for four defencemen: $20.16 million

Cap costs for one goalie: $5 million

Potential Free-Agent Targets

James Reimer, G: The 33-year-old Reimer is regarded as an all-world guy – and not just by professional sports standards. He…

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