The deadline to tender qualifying offers to restricted free agents came and went with the Canucks opting to let defenceman Ben Hutton, among others, hit the open market.

Hutton, the former fifth-round pick who has spent his past four seasons with the Canucks, will now be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. According to Rick Dhaliwal, Hutton is drawing interest from other teams on the open market.

Of course, just because the Canucks opted not to qualify Hutton doesn’t mean they can’t bring him back as a free agent. Had they qualified him and he accepted, Hutton would have seen his cap hit increase from $2.8 million to a cap hit worth a shade over $3 million. It also would have allowed Hutton to go to arbitration, which could have seen him end up with a cap hit north of $4 million given where ranked among Canucks defenders in ice time.

Hutton has become somewhat of a fan favourite in Vancouver for doing things like playing through a cyst the size of a baseball on his foot, so it would be unfortunate to see him end up with a different team. While letting Hutton walk for nothing isn’t great asset management, signing a third-pairing defender to a contract worth somewhere in the realm of $4 million isn’t ideal either.