It was a busy Canada Day for the Vancouver Canucks, which was headlined by the management group adding three defencemen via free agency.
Jim Benning said in a press conference this afternoon that it was their goal to add to their defensive group and improve the group and they felt they accomplished that today.
We’ll look at those defencemen signings and two others from today and what they bring to the organization.
The biggest contract signed today was by Tyler Myers, who inked a five-year contract with an average annual value of $6.0M per season.
Myers played in 80 games for the Winnipeg Jets last season, scoring nine goals and assisting on 22 more. That followed a career-high in points (36) in 2017-18.
The 6’8″ defenceman provides tangible value on the offensive side of the game. He is a very good puck mover and transporter that can skate with the puck out of his own zone, through the neutral zone, and into the offensive zone.
While in the offensive zone, Myers does well in creating shots from good locations and has shot rates that are above average compared to the rest of the league.
The team will look to use Myers in a bigger role this upcoming season as they hope that his addition will solidify the right side of the ice for the group.
The second signing of the day was adding Victoria native Jordie Benn, with a two-year contract with an average annual value of $2.0M per season.
Benn is an interesting player who does well in driving the play in both the offensive zone and defensive zone. Benn thrives in his own zone limiting shots against and limits his opponent’s ability to get high danger shots. He was a regular on the penalty kill and displays the same attributes that allow him to play well in five-on-five situations.
Although his strengths are in the defensive zone, Benn posted career highs in goals (5) and points (22) last season and matched his career high in assist (17). He is effective at moving the puck out of the zone to his wingers and then getting himself into a position to be open for slap-shot opportunities from the point.
He provides versatility to the defensive group as he can both sides and was effective on the right-side last season.
The third and final defenceman to be added to the group today was Swedish defender Oscar Fantenberg.
The 27-year-old left-handed Fantenberg started his NHL career in 2017-18 that saw him play 27 games with the Los Angeles Kings. He appeared in 46 games with the Kings before being moved to the Calgary Flames at the NHL Trading Deadline this past February.
Fantenberg is also very good at limiting the amount of shots that his opponents get and does well to keep them to the outside. He was mostly deployed in a depth role with the Kings and Flames with some limited time on the penalty kill and almost no time with the man advantage.
But as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Fantenberg has shown that he can control the shot share while on the ice, distributes the puck well, and isn’t afraid to transition with it.
He gives the organization more depth in an area that always needs more.
The Canucks management group always has an eye on the Utica Comets in the early days of July as they look to provide support for their prospects in the AHL. Those players could provide value to the big club at some point during the season.
With that in mind, they signed free agent centre Tyler Graovac on a one-year contract.
The 6’5″ and 208 lbs Graovac is coming off a strong AHL season last year that saw him score post 50 points (24-26-50) for the Stockton Heat.
The Brampton, ON native uses his size effectively to create space for himself and his teammates. He’s shown that he is a multi-faceted offensive player that can create his own goals or distribute the puck to his teammates.
Graovac has appeared in 62 NHL games between 2014-15 and 2017-18 with the Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals.
He’ll be in the mix for a depth player with the Canucks or could slot into the top six for the Comets to help the likes of Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, and Lukas Jasek next season.
The Canucks added to their organizational depth in the goaltender ranks by signing Zane McIntyre to a one-year contract.
McIntyre played his collegiate career at the University of North Dakota including the 2014-15 season with Canucks defenceman Troy Stecher. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Boston Bruins at the conclusion of that season.
He appeared in eight games for the Bruins during the 2016-17 season but has spent most of the time since then with their AHL affiliate.
The signing gives the Canucks more depth in the goaltending position and provides a veteran presence for the Comets.