If Jim Rutherford is Santa and the salary cap is the Grinch, then the Vancouver Canucks could make a pretty suspenseful Christmas movie, one with a plot that would extend into summer. But before he gets to roster manoeuvring, the new President of Hockey Operations and interim General Manager for the Vancouver Canucks has other items on his NHL holiday list.
Fill the GM position(s)
We keep hearing a lot about Patrik Allvin, for six years a hockey op’s employee and eventual assistant general manager under Rutherford in Pittsburgh and still the assistant for GM Ron Hextall and the Penguins. He actually beat Rutherford to that organization, joining it in 2006 as a scout. At that point, JR was winning a Stanley Cup while running the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canucks apparently have permission to speak to the Pen’s about Allvin which would mean he’s under serious consideration for the GM gig.
The Swedish-born former minor league defenceman would be just the second European general manager in the NHL along with Finn Jarmo Kekalainen of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rutherford has mentioned an interest in having a diverse front office.
Chris MacFarland is another name that has popped up. The assistant GM in Colorado, MacFarland has been working in hockey op’s around the NHL for two decades, oddly enough, sixteen of those years in Columbus. He would have more of a business acumen than the Swede. I’m not sure either guy would leave their present situation without the move coming with a promotion.
While filling job vacancies is more of practical matter, there’s also one’s holiday wish-list. The momentum and confidence we’ve seen from the Canucks since head coach Bruce Boudreau took over is definitely a gift Rutherford would like to see keep on giving. After a slow start Elias Pettersson is becoming himself again in a big way while Brock Boeser is already back to lighting lamps. I reckon in Christmas lyrical terms it would be “two snipers sniping.”
Boeser is interesting because he requires a $7.5-million dollar qualifying offer as a restricted free agent next summer. Is Rutherford gonna keep a saddle on that horse? I reckon we’ll see in the coming weeks. Apparently this holiday movie just turned into a Western.
I Think You Might be Right
More depth on the right side of the Vancouver Canucks D-corps would be a welcome sight. Colin Miller of the Sabres would be just one name that comes to mind. The 29-year-old pending UFA makes under $4-million a season. Again, a little irony, or is it a coincidence, the Pittsburgh Penguins may be thinking the same thing.
And just how important is it to have a right-handed centre? It’s kind of a big deal on strong-side face-offs and it offers added versatility in special teams situations. Right now the Vancouver Canucks are pure lefty through and through.
Good Health in the New Year
Always a lovely sentiment to pass along, but particularly poignant as 2021 becomes 2022 with the ongoing Covid pandemic. Like everyone else, every NHL GM would love to see this problem go bye bye. If the Omicron variant peters out and becomes a variation of the common cold, good on us. Right now it appears to be headed that way.
In the meantime, Rutherford must keep his virology considerations on the front burner.
Let’s wish that away if we may.