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Canucks Daily: Rathbone’s Role, What it Means for Future of Other D-Men

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Vancouver Canucks, Rathbone and OEL
Vancouver Canucks defencemen Jack Rathbone and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (OEL) holds a no move clause with his deal that pays him $7.26-million per season from the Vancouver Canucks and another million in retained salary from the Arizona Coyotes through 2026-’27.

Let’s starts there, because if Vancouver Canucks defenceman Jack Rathbone lives up to or exceeds expectations, we’ll inevitably start to hear talk about how and why the Canucks need to get rid of OEL’s cap hit.

It would mean Quinn Hughes, OEL, and Rathbone all stacked on their natural left side.

Not so fast says Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau.

“Watch the playoffs, you can’t have enough depth, it’s impossible,” Gabby told VHN on Friday. “I think it’ll make us a better team, it’ll make better competition for all the defencemen, so it’ll be good.”

Boudreau also mentioned Travis Dermott’s name, another lefty who can actually play both sides effectively. In a perfect Canucks world with the current roster depth, while dangerously assuming Rathbone’s effectiveness, Dermott will be playing on the right. That’s where the club’s biggest question marks remain for the not-so-distant future.

It sounds a bit crazy, but $16-million or so per season on the left side of the D-corps, given the talent, doesn’t seem as off the mark as $6-million for Tyler Myers on the right. Stanley Cup contenders spend in the neighbourhood of $30-million on their bluelines. The Vancouver Canucks need to add talent and re-appropriate.

Luke Schenn is a tough, valuable and inexpensive veteran, but likely not a long-term solution at the minutes presently required. Myers eats minutes at even strength and on the penalty kill and offers physicality. Can Vancouver upgrade his slot? Tucker Poolman’s health remains a question mark. Kyle Burroughs is a feisty depth D-man. Could Noah Juulsen late-bloom into something close to his 2015 1st-round expectations?

More questions than answers as we speak, but Rathbone’s emergence would be a welcome first step overall.

“We believe in Jack and I see a very talented young player,” Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin said on Friday. “It’s been unfortunate for a player like Jack that Covid hit when he turned pro with the taxi squad, and maybe not playing as many games as you’d hope. He’s an extremely talented player. Nothing is for granted here, and I expect Jack to come in and compete for a spot on our team. We want to make sure we create internal competition. We’re excited for younger players to be pushing for ice time.”

“He can skate and he can move the puck and those are two great assets to have,” Boudreau added. “I mean, you look at Colorado winning the Cup and the number one thing I think they had was great skating defenseman and great puck moving defenceman. We hope Jack grows into that role, it’s not going be given to him, but we know how hard he’s gonna work and I’ll think he’ll be ready for camp this year. A lot more of knowing what to expect than he did last year.”

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