Hamhuis would be ideal for Canucks

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:57 AM ET

This is Mike Gillis' moment to shine.

The pressure is on the Vancouver GM to build a Stanley Cup winning team this offseason. Last week's Keith Ballard deal was a good start but the defining additions must be made beginning this Thursday when free agent frenzy kicks off.

Gillis' priority list is obvious - strengthen the blueline and retool the bottom six forwards.

"Last year in the playoffs, our achilles heel seem to be the fact that we have defencemen get hurt or we didn't have enough depth to compete at the level we wanted to," said Gillis.

Here are several UFA's worth taking a look at:

Dan Hamhuis, D: All signs point to Hamhuis testing free agency. His rights have been traded twice, and unless Pittsburgh gives him a convincing offer prior to July 1, the defenceman will hit the market. The Smithers, B.C. native is said to want guaranteed top-four minutes, along with several other on-ice demands. Whether Vancouver can meet his needs or not, they will gun for the most coveted UFA defencemen available this summer.

Paul Martin, D: If the Canucks strike out with Hamhuis, Martin is not a bad second choice. The 29-year-old will come at a cost (he made $4.5 million last season) even though he missed 60 games with injury. He is solid at both ends of the rink, having racked up three 30+ points seasons and is a career plus-55 with the New Jersey Devils.

Anton Volchenkov, D: Both Volchenkov and Ottawa Senators teammate Andy Sutton are viable additions. They block shots, play physical, and will protect the crease. One might come cheaper (Sutton) than the other, but the selling point: either one are upgrades from Kevin Bieksa.

Willie Mitchell, D: The option is still there. When healthy, Mitchell is one of the top shut down defencemen in the league and is already a leader in the Canucks locker room. It comes down to his post-concussion condition and willingness to take a pay cut, even if it is for one season.

Arron Asham, RW: After a strong postseason with the Philadelphia Flyers, Asham will look for a raise from the $640K he made in '09-10. He's a better version of Rick Rypien and fights more than Darcy Hordichuk. Enough said.

Glen Metropolit, C: Metropolit is a hard-working two-way centre, who's offensive side came out with the Montreal Canadiens (16 goals in 69 games).

Other bottom six forwards available include Manny Malhotra and Petteri Nokelainen.


Videos

Photos