Although the Canucks already have 15 forwards on one-way deals for next season (plus Elias Pettersson who is already a front-line fixture on an entry-level pact), they’re still interested in bringing back winger Josh Leivo, reports Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre (Twitter link).
The 27-year-old got off to a strong start last season, picking up 19 points (7-12-19) in 36 games and appeared to be well on his way to setting new career highs in goals and points (he had already done so for assists). Logging just over 15 minutes a game, there was some stability in a middle-six role that he had been craving going back to his time as a depth player in Toronto.
However, a fractured kneecap in mid-December ended his season prematurely and he was not part of Vancouver’s playoff roster either. As a result, instead of entering the open market with a bit of momentum, Leivo reached unrestricted free agency with some uncertainty and question marks.
At this stage, it seems unlikely that Leivo will be able to land the $1.5MM he made last season but on a one-year deal to prove that he’s healthy, he’s an intriguing buy-low bounce-back candidate. The Canucks appear to be aware of that although they’ll have some work to do to find a spot for him on their roster and fit him in on the salary cap as by the time they waive some veterans to get back under the Upper Limit, they likely won’t have enough money to bring anyone else in up front. They’ll soon have a small second buyout window at their disposal following Jake Virtanen’s deal from earlier today but it seems unlikely that they’ll use it given the lack of viable options (as Loui Eriksson’s deal is virtually buyout-proof) so GM Jim Benning will have his work cut out for him if he wants to keep Leivo around.