Nick Kypreos is not just multi-media, he’s multi-genre. After leaving Sportsnet TV prior to last season, the former NHL player and Stanley Cup champ with the 1994 New York Rangers established the popular “Real Kyper” podcast, released a book about his unlikely hockey career entitled Undrafted – Hockey, Family, and What it Takes to be a Pro, and helped start his wife’s beverage company “Little Buddha Cocktail Co.” that makes specialized mixed drinks in a can. Catching up with the outspoken Kypreos for the international hockey newsletter Hockey Wanderlüst, we had a chance to mix some Vancouver Canucks analysis into the conversation.
“Oliver Ekman-Larsson will help stabilize that blueline, I think it’ll alleviate a lot of the pressure on (Quinn) Hughes,” Kypreos said. “Say what you will, there will be a lot of pressure once they sign, whatever contract they do, you assume that they’re going to be bridge deals. Last that I heard, neither one of them was interested in an eight-year deal.”
Getting the most for his clients out of bridge deals would be a logical step for Pat Brisson, the agent for both Hughes and centre Elias Pettersson. Brisson talked about timing pressure points in negotiations when we spoke to him this past Monday. With the right timing and some mildly creative salary capology, the Canucks should have upwards of $14-million available for the duo. Does the team try to go long term on one and shorter with the other, namely Hughes?
“Whatever it is,” Kypreos added, “and we’re looking at bridge deals from (Cale) Makar right now up around nine-million dollars (per season for six years), there’s gonna be a tremendous amount of pressure on those young kids still.”
Makar is different in that he’s a right shot who continued to take massive steps in year two of his career, albeit for the best regular season team in the National Hockey League, the Colorado Avalanche. A point-a-game defenceman, Makar had beaten out Hughes in the rookie-of-the-year Calder Trophy voting in 2020. Hughes finished second. The Canuck is a lefty who actually took a step backward in year two although his team’s situation and fortunes were much different. The Canucks finished last in the Northern Division after suffering through the worst Covid-19 season of any NHL team. The affects of that and the comparisons will mean Hughes will not be signing for $9-million a season. So for now the comparisons end.
Kypreos used the word “pressure” four times when talking about the youngsters and the situation in Vancouver.
“Maybe they should give a call to Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews (in Toronto) a call and ask for their advice on how to handle it because it’s gonna come,” Kypreos said.
Kypreos liked the other moves Jim Benning made this summer but his attention kept coming back to the two young stars. General Manager Benning and Head Coach Travis Green are definitely under the microscope to make the postseason, but their destiny will likely be determined by two the “kids”. Pettersson is 22-years-old while Hughes turns 22 the night after the Vancouver Canucks season opener in Edmonton.
“Whether or not you think this team is a playoff team or not, next year there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on Pettersson and Hughes to carry this team, despite Ekman Larsson alleviating some of that pressure,” concluded Kypreos, coming back to where he started with the Vancouver Canucks biggest off-season acquisition.
Pressure to sign, pressure to perform, pressure to win.
*Watch the rest of the Kypreos conversation with Hockey Wanderlüst here, including a lively discussion on the NHL and its Olympic participation and European hockey players past and present.