Monday, the Vancouver Canucks qualified restricted free agent (RFA), minor league netminder Michael DiPietro, their 3rd-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, but have decided to part ways with two-thirds of this past season’s ‘grind line’, Juho Lammikko and Matthew Highmore, along with mostly minor league forward Justin Bailey. The latter three become unrestricted free agents and are available on the open market on Wednesday.
All three were making in between $725,000 and $750,000 last season, with Bailey making $400,000 on the minor league portion of his two-way deal. This was not an economic decision so much as an opportunity to upgrade their forward group, which they feel they’ve already done with the signing of other free agents.
The #Canucks announced today that they have extended a qualifying offer to Michael DiPietro. The following players were not sent qualifying offers: Justin Bailey, Matthew Highmore, and Juho Lammikko.
— Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) July 11, 2022
Bailey never quite wrapped his head around the NHL game, his mind maybe not keeping up with his feet. He put up solid numbers with the American Hockey League Abbotsford Canucks during the regular season with 27 points in 30 games played, and the 27-year-old will more than likely start the season again at the AHL level.
Lammikko came to the Vancouver Canucks last October 10th from the Florida Panthers with defenceman Noah Juulsen in a deal that allowed the Canucks to rid themselves of their 2015 5th-overall draft pick Olli Juolevi. Let’s just say he didn’t work out.
From VHN’s ‘Canucks Roll Call’ featuring Lammikko on May 24th: Either way, this is an upgradeable situation and in a move to playoff and Cup contention, one would think Lammikko is on the outside looking in.
Neither did Lammikko for that matter. Although he did improve during the course of the season, that wasn’t saying a whole lot considering his start. He ended up with 15 points in 75 Vancouver Canucks games. The new team brass will expect more offensive output from whatever bottom-six forward group they end up with.
Highmore brought a scrappy quality to his physical play and skated with no fear. He managed to add 12 points to the cause over 46 games. VHN was more optimistic about his future.
DiPietro, who made just $70,000 last season at the AHL level, will either provide depth in the crease in the Canucks organization or for another NHL franchise should he be moved as part of a deal. He’s struggled in three career NHL appearances.