The Vancouver Canucks signed pending restricted free agent Conor Garland to a five-year contract worth $24.7 million. His contract carries an annual average salary of $4.95 million, which is a significant jump in pay compared to last season’s $775,000 salary he earned with the Arizona Coyotes. This latest move leaves the Canucks with over $20 million in cap space to make other roster adjustments.
The Coyotes recently traded Garland and their captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson to Vancouver on July 23, 2021. In return, the Coyotes received Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, a 2021 first-round pick (Dylan Gauthier), a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2023 seventh-round pick. The Canucks wasted no time securing Garland’s services as they continue to build towards a division title and deep playoff runs in the coming seasons.
Made in the U.S.A.
Garland grew up in Scituate, Massachusetts, where he played for the Boston Jr. Bruins in the Empire Junior Hockey League. He then took a chance with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, in the United States Hockey league, for six games in the 2012-13 season.
Related: 2021 NHL Free Agent Signing Tracker
Despite bouncing around between leagues and teams, Garland continued to chase opportunities, which led him to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His career with the Moncton Wildcats started slow, but by his third year (2014-15), the right winger scored 129 points in just 67 games, finishing the season with 94 assists. Garland won the Michel Brière Memorial Trophy for being the league’s most valuable player. He also won his first back-to-back scoring titles while tying Dylan Strome for the Canadian Hockey League Top Scorer Award.
His hard work paid off as Arizona selected the 5-foot-10, 165-pound winger with the 123rd selection in the 2015 Entry Draft.
Recapture the Glory Days
In 2017-18, Garland started to find his groove again at the NHL level after struggling to put up points in the American Hockey League, reaching a personal best of 27 points. Since joining the Coyotes in 2018-19, he’s collected 96 points thanks to 47 goals and 49 assists in 167 NHL games.
In Vancouver, Garland will slide into the second line playing alongside team captain Bo Horvat and upcoming star Nils Hoglander. Horvat will benefit from having someone on his wing who can put the puck in the net and act as a setup man. Hoglander, meanwhile, is coming off a rookie season where he scored 27 points in 56 games. He was a little streaky, so having another winger on his line who has been through the battles to help keep him grounded will benefit the whole unit.
Garland knows what it is like to play and succeed in a Canadian market. He will adjust to the pressure of Canucks media and fans with no issues. That was probably a determining factor in the deal since playing in the north has benefited him enormously throughout his junior career.
This deal would be considered a win-win for both the player and the franchise. Garland can show that he is still the player the Coyotes envisioned him to be, while the Canucks continue to build their core without breaking the bank on other expensive free agents who may not get the job done.
Ryan Gagne is one of the newest members of The Hockey Writers, covering the New York Islanders. He grew up in a small town in northern New Hampshire, where he idolized the Boston Bruins. Before moving to Canada in 2008, he was the equipment manager for his high school varsity hockey team and a sports journalist for the local newspapers. Ryan has been active in the hockey community, whether coaching, officiating, instructing, or playing. He is the ultimate rink rat with 19 years of experience making ice and driving the Zamboni. An avid fantasy sports player, Ryan created a blog, Keeping the Stats, where he dissects his teams and brags about his 2020 fantasy football championship. Outside of hockey, his life revolves around the New York Yankees, much to his wife’s chagrin.