Editor’s note: NHL free agency was fast and furious, and the moves that teams did (and did not) make set the tone for next season. All week, we’ll examine the Sharks’ Pacific Division rivals, and whether their free-agency approach put them in better, worse or the same position. Today, we dive into the Vancouver Canucks.
Suffice to say, the Canucks aren't the Western Conference powerhouse they used to be.
To be fair, Vancouver has a couple of solid young guns in Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. (More on Boeser in just a bit.) And heck, they ended the 2018-19 regular season in the middle of the pack as opposed to dead last.
Nevertheless, they aren't the threat the Sharks used to face. It's no wonder San Jose bested them 3-1-0 during the regular season.
The rebuild in the post-Sedin Era continues as Vancouver has added some new pieces to the puzzle at the start of free agency.
Here's a look at what they've done so far, and how it may impact their standing in the division next season.
Players who signed
Canucks general manager Jim Benning was busy beefing up the team's blue line on the first day of free agency, signing defensemen Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn and Oscar Fantendberg.
The Myers' signing may worry some fans since it's a five-year deal, but the other two d-men have a lot of upside. Benn, who signed a two-year contract, will add more physicality and ended last season with the Canadiens with a plus-15. Fantenberg, on a one-year contract, adds further depth to the Canucks' d-corps and can help chew up big minutes.
The Canucks re-signed forwards Tyler Motte and Josh Leivo, both are two-way players with room to grow as part of Vancouver's forward assault, as well as defenseman Alexander Edler who was fourth on the team in points last season.
[RELATED: Free Agency Review -- Calgary Flames]
Players who left
The Canucks saw two departures on their blue line at the opening of free agency with Derrick Pouliot going to the Blues and Luke Schenn going to the Lightning -- although with the additions they've already made on defense, those exits likely won't hurt them much.
As for remaining restricted free agents, the Canucks still have Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin and Josh Teves on the docket. (Defenseman Ben Hutton would have been a restricted free agent but was not issued a qualifying offer.) Getting Boeser locked into a deal is likely one of the Canucks' top priorities at the moment, though that's going to be tricky since they only have $5,569,296 left in cap space.
After watching San Jose's Timo Meier sign a four-year deal on the first day of free agency, Boeser's likely looking for a deal that would eat up the rest of that cash.
Vancouver is probably due for another trade or two before the end of the summer to free up some breathing room and get Boeser inked to a deal. Whether that means Vancouver somehow finding a way to move Loui Eriksson is a story for another day.
[RELATED: Free Agency Review -- Arizona Coyotes]
Better, worse, or the same?
After just a week of the free-agent market being open, it looks like the Canucks have made some moves that make them better. But even with the additions Vancouver has made on defense so far, the d-corps hasn't been tested out against the offensive firepower of the Sharks or the Vegas Golden Knights.
Whether the changes they have made thus far make them a playoff contender still remains to be seen.