With training camps now less than a month away, teams will be calling around to the remaining unrestricted free agents to see if their asking price has dropped. It appears that the Canucks are doing that with Evan Rodrigues as Rick Dhaliwal of CHEK and The Athletic reported in an appearance on Sekeres and Price (audio link) that Vancouver is “poking around” on the forward.
The 29-year-old is coming off a career season with Pittsburgh that saw him put up 19 goals and 24 assists while playing in all 82 games for the first time. His ice time jumped up to nearly 16 minutes per game and he played down the middle and on the wing. That type of versatility is always appealing to teams.
So, why hasn’t his market materialized this summer? Rodrigues’ splits from last season are likely playing a role in that. Of the 43 points he had, 30 came in the first half of the year and only 13 in the second half. The latter is more in line with his career numbers where he has been more of a depth forward so it’s not surprising that teams aren’t coming in overly high with offers, especially with flexibility at a premium.
Rodrigues ranked 24th on our Top 50 UFA list earlier this summer with a projected contract of three years at $3MM per season. At this point, it’s quite unlikely he’ll command that type of money or term so a one-year deal in an optimal situation with the hopes of generating a stronger market next summer might be the next best thing.
However, is Vancouver the most optimal spot for Rodrigues? They’ve added some depth on the wings this summer with Ilya Mikheyev and Andrei Kuzmenko and while Rodrigues could plausibly slide in down the middle when injuries strike, it’s not a position he has played full-time since the 2018-19 campaign. He could fit on the third line if they were comfortable deploying him as a center; otherwise, Rodrigues would likely be in a depth role with Vancouver which is what he should be trying to avoid. There’s still time for Rodrigues to be selective as he looks to find a home for next season but if nothing else, Vancouver would represent a fallback plan if the more desirable situations don’t present themselves.