The Vancouver Canucks have been quite active on the free-agent market, as the opening of the season kicks off on Sunday and the Canadian club appears ready to pounce on several players who have been made available.
On Wednesday, Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province reported that the Canucks have reached out to free agents Tyler Bozak and Riley Nash this week as they look to bring in a centre on July 1. While there is loads of competition for the coveted free agents, Vancouver has also been eyeing Derek Ryan, but the player seems to be creating quite the fight with a close rival.
According to TSN senior hockey writer Frank Seravalli, Ryan held a meeting with the Calgary Flames on Thursday and the team could have an advantage the Canucks do not have in their pockets. The new Flames head coach Bill Peters gave Ryan his first shot in the National Hockey League, and the two men might be ready to collaborate again on the ice, this time in Calgary.
It’s no secret the Flames want to add a right-handed centre, however, the Flames face close competition with the Canucks, who are also hunting down a centre for next season's roster.
Ryan's confidence will surely be boosted as he sees the two Canadian rivals fighting for his services: he didn’t skate in the NHL until he was 29 and it is encouraging to see that your hard work pays off. Ryan has proven to be a very good option on the fourth line for a team in need of some solid defensive play. He won 56.5% of his faceoffs last winter and was also a regular on the Carolina Hurricanes’ power-play.
Ryan, ranked fifth among free agent centres in this year's class on the TSN board, scored 15 goals and posted 38 points this season.
According to the information provided by Cap Friendly, Ryan's latest contract with the Hurricanes saw him paid just $1.4 million, and he could become an affordable option for either the Flames or the Canucks.
However, Vancouver will need to find interesting ways to woo Ryan if they want to win this fight over the Flames. After all, Peters not only gave Ryan his first NHL shot and coached him for three years in Carolina, he was also his bench boss during his junior days with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs... These guys go way back.
Let's see if the Canucks can find a creative way to beat the Flames and land Ryan. This will surely intensify the rivalry!