What personnel do the Vancouver Canucks want to keep on-board moving forward regardless of where they finish in the standings this season? That’s question number one, and there’s a logical approach to the answer. The goal, of course, is winning the Stanley Cup at some point.
That doesn’t mean these selections will hold up, depending on Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin’s preferences, but these bedrocks need to stay in place on the most basic hockey levels.
Call it ‘doing inventory’ eleven days before the NHL trade deadline.
The name of the game. The Vancouver Canucks have one of the best in the business in Thatcher Demko. He’s in and/or still entering his prime at age-26. ✓
The back-up will change. The Jaro Halak concept was a sound one, it just hasn’t panned out thus far for a variety of reasons. Likely not to waive his no move clause, Canucks fans will get a chance to see if he can still help the cause. If there’s still a cause to help.
The off-season goalie market always offers options and there are potential options within the franchise in Spencer Martin and maybe Michael DiPietro at some point. Arturs Silovs someday?
If Halak finds it again, do you bring him back for another cushion year for less cash? Sounds a bit nuts on the surface, but it actually would be an even bigger risk for him, a guy wanting to get to 300 career NHL victories and not seeing any action. With just two this season, he remains 17 wins away.
Every NHL team needs a sturdy, reliable back-up, period, and ultimately the Canucks aren’t spending that much of their salary cap on goalies.
They have their number-one puck moving defenceman, special teams stalwart, and future on the blueline in Quinn Hughes. They will upgrade his partner at some point. ✓
For now, while somewhat effective and heavy, Luke Schenn is ultimately a temp’ in that position. Schenn could be moved depending on how these next few games go.
Who will be the Don Sweeney to Hughes’s Ray Bourque? (Yes, I realize that’s a hefty comparison, but it’s just an analogy, with the focus on the Sweeney side of things). The goal in this case is to find Hughes’s ‘Sweeney’, or even better.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has performed to his old standards and has played with a surprising amount of bite at times. The veteran Swedish blueliner can get a bit ornery. Right now he represents strong depth on the left side behind Hughes and could do so for multiple seasons more. How long with five years left at $8.250-million per season? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say three for now. Gives management a little time to try and fill the talent coffers. ✓
Given the lack of depth on the right side, Vancouver Canucks fans could probably handle Tyler Myers for two more years, but the just-turned-32-year-old comes at a fat $6-bills (million) per season for his efforts. No check-mark here, he and the rest of the defencemen are all fair game for whatever maneuver the regime deems necessary.
The key for any club being strength up the middle. Elias Pettersson, age 23 and in year one of a three-year bridge, and a JT Miller, age 28 and a season away from a big, fat raise? That’s a pretty dynamic duo, but it’s not a perfect world we live in and affordability enters the picture. Miller too old for you? Too temperamental?
Oh, that’s right, someone said he was getting traded two months ago. I forgot, how silly of me.
If ‘Petey’ is winning draws and that’s your one-two punch up the middle with Bo Horvat also in the mix, I’m giving the club the here-and-now check-mark. Actually, could for the start of another season as well. ✓
Horvat will require a new deal after next season. His geographic future will be determined prior to the 2023 NHL trade deadline.
Darn that time-space continuum.
He’s popular, he works hard especially when he’s on his game, and he can snipe. Brock Boeser. But there’s a reason we legitimately we’ve heard his name out there and that’s his $7.5-million RFA qualifying offer. That’s a lot of cap space.
I keep Conor Garland. Maniacal talent and worker at a good price and only 25. Plus the pure entertainment factor.
Any other must-holds for you? Tanner Pearson is 29-years-old and making just $3.25-million for two more seasons. Not too shabby.
Otherwise the Vancouver Canucks have decisions to make on mostly inexpensive role players. Comes down to work ethic, production and chemistry, to suggest the obvious.
My wish list: A banger up front to add a little truculence consistently, a bit more scoring off the wing whether it comes from current youngsters finding their games or from the outside, and D, D, D, and D.
There’s your base. I’ll leave the math up to the capologists for now as it’s mainly a discussion for just a wee bit later and/or when a deal is in the making.
Is the Canucks franchise actually in better or worse shape, on-ice, than you thought it was?
Four check-marks for Jim Benning’s team (as it stands). Thanks for coming.