The 2020-21 season was very disappointing for the Vancouver Canucks. Not only did the Canucks finish with a 23-29-4 record this season, but they also finished at the bottom of the Scotia North Division and 24th in the entire league.
As the team’s season comes to an end, the focus shifts to the offseason. To start the offseason, the Canucks held an end-of-season media availability with general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green on Friday.
Travis Green’s Contract Extension
Prior to the media availability, the Canucks announced they’ve agreed to terms on a multi-year extension with Green. During the media availability, it was revealed the head coach agreed to a two-year extension.
Green discussed wanting to stay in Vancouver to create a winning team. The head coach added a big reason for him to stay goes back to when he joined the Canucks four years ago, and the goal to build something and he is still committed to that goal. The 2017-18 season was his first with the club, as they finished with a .445 points percentage (P%). The team improved over the following two seasons, finishing the 2018-19 season with a .494 P% and finishing the 2019-20 season with a .565 P%, before falling to a .439% this season.
Green has done a great job of developing young players on the main roster, which has led to the team’s improvement in prior seasons. He has been the club’s head coach during the rookie seasons of Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko and Nils Hoglander. Since he will be around the following two seasons at the very least, he will be around for Vasili Podkolzin’s rookie season, and potentially the first-round pick the Canucks add this year. Green has proved he can help the team’s top prospects find their game over his first four seasons.
One thing to note is both Benning and Green now have two years remaining on their current contracts with the franchise. Therefore, in the next two years, the team will likely have to reach the playoffs for the owners to bring both of them back.
Benning stated the Canucks’ plans for this offseason during the media availability. The GM wants to be aggressive this offseason to make sure the Canucks can make the playoffs next year. He plans on making changes by exploring trades, free agency and buyouts. This could mean the potential of the team buying out Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, or Jay Beagle.
Also, there have been rumours of a player on the team potentially asking for a trade due to the poor season the Canucks had, but Benning confirmed no player had done so. As for exploring options through trades and free agency, Benning stated the roster needs more speed up front. Additionally, the club will need some veteran leadership and depth scoring since the team wants to have three scoring lines.
Although most of those needs make sense, veteran leadership is something the club has and may not need to look for. Bo Horvat (26) has been a great leader as the captain the past two seasons, as well as J.T. Miller (28), who stepped up for his teammates when they were returning from their COVID-19 outbreak. They still have veteran forwards in Beagle and Roussel, unless those two are bought out, signing additional vets seems pointless. The Canucks do need skilled depth forwards, as they have lacked depth scoring for some time. Forwards Blake Coleman, Mikael Granlund and Mike Hoffman are potential options.
It’ll be interesting to see if Benning can add help this offseason after the club re-signs Pettersson and Hughes. The Canucks are in a cap crunch, so it may be tough.
Sedins and Their Potential Roll
Earlier this week, it was reported the Sedin twins could be joining the team in a managerial role. Benning clarified the twins returning won’t interfere with assistant general manager John Weisbrod’s role. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Fredman stated the Sedins will have some say in the Canucks’ moves if they join the front office.
It seems like the Sedin twins are being brought in to save the Canucks’ image, which has been damaged over the past few years. The two players are fan favourites after spending their entire careers with the Canucks and finishing top two in franchise points. Still, I am unsure if this will help with the team’s image as it doesn’t fix any of the real issues the club has, such as limited cap space.
2021 Offseason Is Important
The 2021 offseason is important as the Canucks will be attempting to restore faith in the club. The 2020 offseason saw the team losing four unrestricted free agents, which resulted in the organization taking a step back this season. If Benning can add depth scorers while re-signing Pettersson and Hughes, the 2021-22 could be promising.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.