Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning hopes and believes his two re-signed young stars, centre Elias Pettersson and defenceman Quinn Hughes, will have plenty of time to acclimate to the team and prepare for the season with the regular season opener slated for October 13th in Edmonton. All three addressed the media on Sunday.
“They’ve been skating in Michigan, with Jim Hughes (Quinn’s dad and a development coach for agent Pat Brisson), he’s been working them hard, but it’s not like they’ve been in camp and getting hit, taking guys out and stuff, so that will take an adjustment period for them to get back to the physical play of the game,” Benning said, “but they look like they’re in great shape, they say they’re ready to go, they’re excited to be here, so hopefully they’ll be ready for the start of the year.”
“Obviously it wasn’t like camp but it was as good as we can get,” Hughes concurred. “We went pretty hard, my dad runs a tough skate, but we belong here now, so we were happy to get here.”
“it’s been good, we’ve been skating with Quinn’s dad,” Pettersson added. “He doesn’t go easy on us, so it’s been tough skates.”
Both players intimated their overwhelming desire to get back to the Canucks, likely a strong catalyst in the contract talks ramping to a conclusion quickly on this past Wednesday and Thursday.
“This is probably the best roster we’ve had in my three years here,” Hughes stated, “so that was another thing, I definitely didn’t want to be sitting at home too long because I think we have a really good team here and I wanted to be here. Me and Petey wanted to get here and get our feet wet and get off to a good start to the season.”
“Just wanted to get back to the team,” Petey said. “Both me and Quinn felt like it was wrong, being in Michigan when the team went into training camp and preseason, so we just wanted to be here as fast as possible. Maybe it took longer than possible but we’re both happy with our deals.”
Pettersson’s deal is for three years and $7.35-million per season and Hughes received six-years for $7.85-million per season.
Jim Benning on Hughes: “He wanted a little longer term so we worked through that and I think we got to a number that we were comfortable with and they were happy with, so we were able to do that for a little bit longer,” Benning said.
Benning on Petey: “We signed him to a three-year deal, we own him for four years before he’s unrestricted, so we’ll just see what it looks like the next three years,” Benning said. “You know, next time we’ll try to do an eight year extension with him.”
Pettersson gets a record-breaking contract for an NHL three-year bridge deal coming out of entry-level, despite missing the final thirty games of last season with a wrist injury. He says he’s back one-hundred percent and there were no issue with his summer training.
“I’m ready to go,” Pettersson stated. “I’m hungrier than I was before my injury, so I’m very much ready to get the season started. When I went home to Sweden my wrist was fine to do full work-outs.”
Now the attention turns to taking advantage of what’s left of the preseason.
“Just do everything we can day by day,” Pettersson said. “I’m not sure when our first game is going to be, but (we’ll) make sure we’re as ready as possible when the season starts.”
Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Travis Green suggested the Tuesday game was a highly unlikely target for the two players, especially considering tomorrow (Monday) is probably an off-day in terms of a full team practice. The Thursday-Saturday preseason home and home starting in Edmonton is a more realistic spot for Pettersson and Hughes to see game action.
“Obviously as quickly as possible without rushing it,” Green said. “Kind of have plans to get them into the last two games.”
“I’m just excited to play in front of people, I didn’t realize how much of a difference the fans make until last year, so I’m really excited to have fans back in the stadium.” Petey said.
The face-off for the Vancouver Canucks hosting the Winnipeg Jets Sunday will happen Sunday afternoon a little after 4 pm.