Even in these days of COVID-19 and the suspension of NHL regular-season games, there are still Vancouver Canucks news and rumor items to report. However, those don’t happen on the ice but instead includes player signings, off-ice news, the impact of COVID-19 on hockey decisions, and reviews and speculations about how a player’s past work might point toward the future.
In this post, I’d like to help Canucks’ fans stay more up-to-date with what’s happening with the team.
Item One: Canucks Scouting Division Rickety Prior to 2020 Draft
Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre recently reported that the Canucks were likely to lose Judd Brackett, the team’s director of amateur scouting when his contract is up at the end of June. That could be an issue going into the draft because he has been a key figure in the Canucks’ organization since he was promoted to the position of director in 2015.
Obviously, Brackett has been one of the key movers and shakers who’ve helped the franchise work on its rebuild. There’s no doubt that the team has drafted well over the last few years. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are certainly two examples.
In a recent interview on 650 radio in Vancouver, Elliotte Friedman corroborated MacIntyre’s report and suggested that the two sides are likely to break ties after Brackett rejected an extension offer made by the Canucks.
As Friedman put it, “Judd Brackett and the Vancouver Canucks clearly are not comfortable with each other. For whatever reason, the organization is not comfortable with him, and he is not comfortable with them. I think everybody can see that at this point in time.”
MacIntyre reported that the impasse between Brackett and the rest of the organization has nothing to do with pay or job title, but because the team shook up the scouting department last offseason by firing four of Brackett’s scouts. Interesting, just when things start to turn around – now this?
Item Two: Michael Buble – A Canucks’ Super-fan
To put it simply, 44-year-old Canadian singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer Michael Buble is in love with the Vancouver Canucks.
How much? Buble pledges that “I’ve been in love my whole life and my heart has been broken so many times. But I’ll never leave. I will stay loyal and be by their side.”
In a Sportsnet article on May 9, Buble discussed his broader love of hockey as well. He shared that he’s a huge collector and that, because he’s able to travel around the world performing, he’s also been able to collect memorabilia. Pucks are his specialty.
Buble reported, “I’m a Canucks fan but I love hockey, I really do. I’ve got thousands of pucks from places that you’d never think. From South Africa, little towns in Spain or England that have little teams. I have them all.”
For Canucks fans, in 2011 Canucks TV filmed a segment of Buble skating with the team during a practice and trying to score on then-Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. It’s a great little watch.
Item Three: Counting the Ways the Canucks Will Feel the Salary-Cap Squeeze
The salary-cap squeeze sounds a bit like a dance move, and undoubtedly the Canucks will have to engage in a number of gyrations over the next few months to shake things up. But, as MacIntyre reports in a Sportsnet’s mailbag article this past week, the Canucks are certain to feel the salary squeeze.
Specifically, MacIntyre noted that his entry-level contract would actually help Nils Hoglander make the Canucks roster if he were good enough to play. That’s because the team is in danger of “suffocating under the cap, are going to need players who can contribute on entry-level contracts.”
MacIntyre suggests that, if needed, the Canucks would move a more expensive player to make room for Hoglander on its roster. Where does that put Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli? Who knows? But, when the salary cap was projected earlier this season to be at least $84 million, a priority was to re-sign both Markstrom and Toffoli.
That’s no longer the case and it’s too bad. I thought Toffoli was a good fit. There were rumors that the Canucks might have wanted to sign unrestricted free agent Alex Pietrangelo (who wouldn’t want him, really?), but there’s no chance now given the team’s salary-cap issues. As well, MacIntyre reports that the team would love to bring Nikita Tryamkin back to the NHL and suggests that it would likely take a one-way deal to get him here.
Furthermore, defenseman Chris Tanev? After the Canucks signed Tyler Myers last offseason, they likely can’t afford to re-sign Tanev unless they might be able to bring him back on a discounted deal as they did with Alex Edler.
Perhaps, but Edler’s a different “kettle” of smoked salmon. Vancouver is his home, and he has strong ties to the community and simply won’t leave. I have a sense he’d retire before he left the Canucks because his family is so firmly settled in Vancouver. As well, if I were the Canucks organization, Edler would be one of those players – Carey Price is another one in Montreal – who I just wouldn’t want to leave. He’s such a positive representative for the organization throughout the Vancouver area.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
Speaking about Toffoli, there’s no doubt that the Canucks have put together a great group of forwards. But something has to give with the salary-cap issues the team faces and general manager Jim Benning has some tough questions to answer – and soon.
Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, and Adam Gaudette seem solid at forward. I’m also a huge fan of newcomer J.T. Miller and think he adds too much to the roster to let him slip away. Keeping Toffoli, as I noted, would be nice; however, he simply might be too expensive.
As I say, there are questions to address. Might there be a big trade coming? It will be interesting to see how Benning plays it.