Being a “tweener” team is never a good thing as it relates to the NHL Draft. If the Vancouver Canucks make the playoffs or fall just short, there’s the likely chance they’ll be a middling team when it comes time to make their first round selection in 2022. That’s the situation barring any deals. They presently don’t have a 2nd-rounder in 2022 while holdng the Winnipeg Jets’ 3rd round pick, not their own.
This is the least of their worries right now.
The ‘Comeback Canucks’ have put President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and General Manager Patrik Allvin in a wee bit of a predicament. The 2021-’22 Vancouver Canucks continue to develop as one of the NHL’s great stories this season. From oblivion in November to actually threatening for a playoff spot in March. Obviously there are no guarantees, the odds are still against them, but their resurgence has been great for the Vancouver fan base.
One of those fans, team owner Francesco Aquilini, could be seen smiling and chatting with players outside of the Canucks dressing room after his team’s 6-4 win in Toronto. He’s enjoying the ride.
Meanwhile, Rutherford and Allvin have to balance the right now with the future. They’d love to clear a bit of cap space moving forward and they’d love to add some defensive depth. They need to build the prospect base. Lots to to, but the idea of gutting this dressing room at a time when the BC Boys are capturing the hearts of the faithful makes decision making even more difficult.
The simplest option is to wait. They can see how the first four of five games of the Canucks upcoming homestand go before making a decision or decisions. They do have a little bit of wiggle room for now with two full weeks to the NHL trade deadline. In fact, the entire homestand ends one day before that deadline with a game against the Buffalo Sabres, but if they’re hitting the market they’d prefer to be involved ahead of the last minute.
A very difficult four-game road trip awaits them after that, with stops against the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild on a back-to-back, followed by visits to the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues.
It was the just concluded road trip that complicated decision-making issues. It included wins against the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs and a loss against the New Jersey Devils, maybe the exact opposite of what some had predicted.
The Canucks sit four points out of the 2nd Western Conference wild card spot, five back of the first wild card, six points back of third place in the Pacific Division and seven points out of 2nd place. Yes, take it ‘one game at a time’ as they say, but realistically the Canucks need to win at least five of their next seven games.
If not, the team will be making Rutherford and Allvin’s pre-deadline decisions for them. Fans should enjoy the ride in the meantime.