9 players still on the UFA market who could be a fit PTO for the Canucks – Canucksarmy

These days money is tight almost everywhere except at the top and, in very relative terms, the National Hockey League is no exception.

Entering the third year of the near-flat salary cap induced by COVID, teams are running out of salary-cap space like never before, and it has put serious pressure on the 2022 unrestricted free-agent crop.

Some, like Johnny Gaudreau and Ondrej Palat, could still charge a lot.

Others, like John Klingberg, had to accept what seemed like disappointing contracts.

Announcement – Continue reading below

Still, plenty of others have been left without a compelling offer thus far and are stuck waiting for an offer almost a month after free agency.

Guaranteed employment is getting harder and harder to come by.

With more than three dozen legitimate NHLers still on the market, the likely result is a record number of professional tests, or PTOs, being delivered in the months leading up to 2022/23.

For players, that means a grueling series of training camp battles for a limited number of roster spots.

Announcement – Continue reading below

For teams, it’s a great opportunity to add genuine talent without risk and at low cost, and the Canucks could be one of those teams.

Here are a handful of players still floating around on the UFA open market who could fit into the PTO in Vancouver.

Zach Aston-Reese, C/LW

27, 6’0”, 204 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
69 5 10 fifteen 48.1%

Aston-Reese and Jim Rutherford go back a long way, with Rutherford first signing the man they call “ZAR” as an undrafted NCAA player and then overseeing his transition to full-time NHL play with the Penguins.

Throughout his career thus far, Aston-Reese has developed a reputation as a defensive center and/or winger who can handle a surprising number of matchups against top-six competition and will usually break even. As minimum.

Announcement – Continue reading below

From HockeyViz.com

If the Canucks were looking for a little more competition in their back six, and if they were looking to form some sort of closing third or fourth line, they could do a lot worse than ZAR.

Josh Brook, RHD

23, 6’1”, 193 pounds

Games (AHL) Goals (AHL) Assists (AHL) Points (AHL) Corsi%
6 0 0 0 N/A

Brook is the least exciting name on the list, but he’s still a perfect candidate for a PTO as someone who has a lot to prove. Drafted 56the Overall, in 2017, Brook was heavily touted as being that rare sizable RHD who can skate, pass and defend, but injuries got in the way of his development. He has only managed 45 games in the last two seasons, and none of them have been at the NHL level. But if Brook is healthy heading into 2022/23, there’s no reason not to see if he still has that talent left, especially for a team as hungry for RHD as the Canucks.

Alex Chiasson, RW

31, 6’3”, 208 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
67 13 9 22 48.7%

I’ve been there, done that. The Canucks know exactly what they’d get from Chiasson, last year’s successful PTO…or do they?

Announcement – Continue reading below

From NHL.com

A few different Chiassons showed up for the Canucks in 2021/22. One of them was “Final Month Chiasson”, as he scored 11 points in the last 12 games of the season. No one expects Chiasson to show up all season, but it shows his versatility and ability to play up and down the lineup as the situation demands. He’s still an NHL player, even if it’s not in Vancouver.

Calvin de Haan, L.H.D.

31, 6’1”, 195 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
69 4 4 8 47.0%

De Haan can throw on the left, but he’s played a lot on the right side of the blue line throughout his career, and he might feel more comfortable there. Traditionally plagued by injuries, de Haan had one of his healthiest seasons in a long time for the Blackhawks and put up some respectable results considering the quality of the team around him.

Announcement – Continue reading below

Hits Hits/60 blocks Blocks/60
146 6.69 172 7.88

From NHL.com

De Haan is a pretty classic defensive defender these days, and he has a penchant for doing the dirty work of throwing hits, blocking shots and washing his face. In other words, he brings something the Canucks don’t have much at LHD … plus another desperately needed NHL-quality body at RHD.

Johan Larsson, C.

29, 5’11”, 198 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
43 7 14 twenty-one 50.0%

Honestly, it’s a bit strange that Larsson hasn’t been signed by anyone yet. He’s a very specific kind of analysis darling, the kind of player who can only be described as a “wet blanket,” in a good way.

Announcement – Continue reading below

From HockeyViz.com

Larsson regularly plays against top-six competition, and when he’s on the ice, nobody scores. Not his opponents, not his linemates and, with the notable exception of last season, certainly not Larsson himself. If the Canucks want to soften Bo Horvat’s deployment and create a back-six closing line, they could try Jason Dickinson in that role again, or they could give it to a more proven closing center in Larsson.

Ryan Murray, left hand drive

28, 6’1”, 206 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
37 0 4 4 48.1%

It’s hard to call Murray’s career a disappointment after he was part of a Stanley Cup winner at Colorado. But the 2012 second overall pick has been hampered by injuries since before he was drafted, and that caused him to become a bottom-pair defender rather than a #1 minute-eater.

xG Score Probability Control High Hazard Probability Control
49.0% 50.0% 49.4%

By NaturalStatTrick, 5v5

Announcement – Continue reading below

Still, Murray has found ways to be at least an effective defender at the bottom. He can handle decent competition, gets a lot of the little things right, and generally posts positive possession and control metrics. It’s nothing fancy, but he could be seen as a safer option for the Canucks’ bottom LHD spot than anyone else they’ve scored there, or is worth looking at, anyway.

Brett Ritchie, OR

29, 6’4”, 220 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
41 3 1 4 56.3%

If the Canucks are still looking for sand, Ritchie is probably the biggest hitter left on the market. His four points in the 2021/22 season, despite being in the top six with the Flames, doesn’t look encouraging, but Ritchie’s advanced stats are truly incredible.

xG Score Probability Control High Hazard Probability Control
57.72% 54.80% 62.79%

By NaturalStatTrick, 5v5

Does this suggest the 29-year-old right winger is ready for a big season? Maybe. Maybe not. But he does suggest that, despite his clumsiness, he is a more confident player than most might assume. If he could control penalties from him, it would be an even better bet. Still, Ritchie may not fit the speed profile that GM Patrik Allvin is reportedly looking for on his roster.

Announcement – Continue reading below

Dominik Simon, RW/LW

27, 5’11”, 190 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
72 3 10 13 54.6%

Rutherford drafted, signed and oversaw Simon’s transition to the NHL with the Penguins, so there’s a lot of history here. Simon eventually left Pittsburgh for the Flames, but returned last season, where he posted low scoring numbers and brilliant analysis in a fourth-row role.

Corsi (PIT) xG (Hole) Goal chances (PIT) Probabilities of high danger (PIT)
57.84% 58.01% 55.64% 56.89%

By NaturalStatTrick, 5v5

Simon was eventually sent to Anaheim in the Rickard Rakell trade, where he flopped, which likely explains why he remains unsigned. But he’s quick, he can kill penalties and he’s shown plenty of scoring ability in the past, so he may be a worthy competitor to bring to training camp.

Anton Stralman, RHD

35, 5’11”, 186 pounds

Games Goals assists Points Corsi%
74 8 fifteen 23 44.4%

At 35 years old and with 930 NHL games under his belt, we wouldn’t be surprised if Stralman wasn’t open to a PTO and just moved back to Sweden. But if he’s willing, the Canucks should be willing to take a look at him. Stralman was forced into a more or less top-pair role for the Coyotes last season, and he performed admirably, all things considered. He was definitely not as buried as he should have been.

From HockeyViz.com

After that, you have to think Stralman has at least enough left in the tank to compete with the likes of Kyle Burroughs and Tucker Poolman for a spot. And one more Swede in the mix wouldn’t hurt either.

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