NHL agent J.P. Barry frequently speaks with Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning.
Lately it’s often been because Barry represents Canucks forward Loui Eriksson whose name has been involved in trade rumours recently. But Barry also expects to speak with Benning regarding two of his other clients — Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner and Winnipeg Jets blueliner Tyler Myers — when free agency season officially gets under way.
“We can start talking to teams on the Sunday (following the 2019 NHL Draft) so I think we’ll probably be in Vancouver (the draft’s host city) and some of these teams will be there so we’ll probably start talking to teams as early as (June 23),” Barry told Sportsnet 650 on Friday.
Benning made it clear when speaking to reporters in Buffalo earlier this month at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine that he’s looking to upgrade Vancouver’s back end via the draft and in free agency.
Gardiner and Myers both become unrestricted free agents on July 1 and next to Erik Karlsson, they’re likely to be the two most-coveted defencemen available.
“For certain players, a top-four position on the Canucks could be a good spot,” Barry added. “Vancouver’s definitely one of the teams that’s gonna be in the mix and we’ll see. I mean, they have to step up. We have to hear from Vancouver. Obviously, they could make two trades next week and that could be it, right?
“Free agency’s a moving target. You got these trades moving and we could arrive at the draft and Vancouver’s got two new defencemen so they’re out of the picture. But obviously it’s a team that has some opportunity in the top four so they’re definitely going to be on the list.”