If Vancouver Canucks fans can claim one victory when it comes to the Tyler Myers signing, it’s that it turned out to be much less painful than the seven-year, $49 million pact that was originally speculated. So, framed from that perspective, getting a big, right-hand shot defenseman with solid offensive credentials for $30 million over five seasons ($6 million AAV) could be seen as a win for the home team.
There is little doubt that Tyler Myers will make the Canucks better in the short term. Does he make them a playoff team? Almost certainly not. But along with J.T. Miller, the Canucks are a little deeper and a little better than they were last season. They’re still an enigma wrapped in a mystery when it comes to their identity and what GM Jim Benning is actually trying to do, but they will be a little better with Myers, particularly since the right side of their defense corps consists of Chris Tanev (who is good, but has never played a full NHL season and has averaged just 50 games a season over the past three), Troy Stecher (who is inconsistent) and Alex Biega (who is Alex Biega). He will certainly help on the offensive side of things for Vancouver and will likely have a chance to make a bigger impact with the Canucks in a more prominent role. For the most part, Myers was on the third pairing with the Winnipeg Jets.
But there’s a reason why he was on the third pairing and why the Jets were not interested in meeting either his asking price or his term. His defensive reads are, well, confusing would be a polite way of putting it. Bad defensive reads can sometimes be mitigated by having good foot speed, but Myers will never be accused of being fleet of foot. Quite frankly, he struggles mightily against fast, talented forwards, which again is one of the reasons why he was on the third pair in Winnipeg.
So why would the Canucks not make a push for Jake Gardiner instead? Well, probably for a couple of reasons. First, they have too much money committed to players they’d rather not have on their roster and that, combined with the $3 million annual cap hit they’re absorbing for the Roberto Luongo cap recapture, they can’t afford him. And even though Myers doesn’t have Gardiner’s speed, there are some health issues with Gardiner that the Canucks probably won’t have with Myers.
So here we have a team that is perhaps slightly closer to making the playoffs than they were last season, but is still a fair distance away from being a post-season contender. They gave up a first-round pick to get Miller and now the Myers’ long-term contract. It’s pretty clear that Benning is beginning to feel the heat of not having presided over a playoff game in his five seasons as GM. This is the kind of thinking – chasing veterans in an effort to tread water – that gets teams into trouble. This contract will not age well, but that hardly puts it in a minority when it comes to free agency. The problem here is the good years Myers has will likely be spent on a team that is still building toward being a contender.
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