Top 5 NHL free agents Vancouver Canucks must target in 2024 offseason ft. Nikita Zadorov

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks
Nikita Zadorov was one of the best Vancouver Canucks trades in years.

The Vancouver Canucks finished the 2023-24 season with the second-best record in the Western Conference and had three skaters rank in the top 15 in league scoring.

After a crushing defeat to the Edmonton Oilers in the second round, the team is close to advancing to the Stanley Cup Final and winning the franchise's first championship.

Now that Rick Tocchet has won the Jack Adams Award as head coach of the year, the Canucks will turn their attention to the offseason, and with close to $23 million available, which players could they add to their already talented lineup?

Top 5 NHL free agents Vancouver Canucks must target in 2024 offseason

#1. Nikita Zadorov (Vancouver Canucks)

Nikita Zadorov requested a trade from the Calgary Flames and was granted one just a quarter into the season, landing with the Canucks in November 2023. Although he's not known for his offensive capabilities, he's a tough-as-nail competitor.

During Vancouver's series against the Oilers, Zadorov had one of the most significant presence in the matchup, just playing a physical game that wore down all the stars in the Edmonton lineup.

Considering that the Canucks have five free-agent defensemen to bring back or replace, keeping Zadorov has to be a priority.

#2. Elias Lindholm (Vancouver Canucks)

Elias Lindholm is another former Flames player who relocated from Alberta to British Columbia before the NHL trade deadline. Realistically, he was disappointing, with just 12 points in 26 games. However, he redeemed his reputation with timely goals in the postseason, with 10 points in 13 games.

As a premier top free agent center, several teams will reach out to the former 40-goal scorer, including the Boston Bruins. Yet, the Canucks would be wise to keep the Swedish center and give him a chance to build upon his playoff performance and help the team reach a different ending in 2024-25.

#3. Shayne Gostisbehere (Detroit Red Wings)

As mentioned, Vancouver could be short five defensemen this offseason. Four will be unrestricted free agents, and one will be restricted. If only a couple of them return, general manager Patrik Allvin will still need to build the backend again.

That's when Shayne Gostisbehere's name comes in. As a well-traveled veteran, he played with the Detroit Red Wings last season and recently compiled the best totals of his career since 2018.

Although he's 31, and the Canucks could opt to stay with players under 30, there's the element of adding veterans to help the young one develop. Even though Quinn Hughes will win the Norris Trophy, others in the lineup could benefit from a veteran mentor.

#4. Jake Guentzel (Carolina Hurricanes)

Jake Guentzel is going to be the most sought-after free agent. He is a two-time 40-goal scorer with his name on the Stanley Cup. Not only is he an elite player in today's NHL, but he's also a more clutch playoff performer and would be an enormous boost to the Vancouver lineup.

Jake Guentzel, Carolina Hurricanes
Jake Guentzel, Carolina Hurricanes

Now, Guentzel's next contract may be out of the Canucks budget, but if it's possible, management would need to at least kick tires on a potential blockbuster signing. They already have one of the most talented lineups in the NHL, so imagine if they acquired someone like Guentzel.

#5. Patrick Kane (Detroit Red Wings)

As much as Allvin should work on shoring up his defensive corps., he should also go out and acquire a veteran impact player to teach the rest of the lineup how to win. Luckily, there is a future Hall of Famer looking for another contract, and his name is Patrick Kane.

Kane is a three-time Stanley Cup winner and won playoff MVP during one of those runs. He's one of the greatest American-born skaters ever and has built a winning legacy with Original Six franchises.

After missing time for hip surgery, he returned and scored 20 goals and 47 points in 50 games. Even at 35, Kane has shown he can still play at a high level and would be an incredible asset for Vancouver.

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