Although the NHL’s regular season has been suspended, hockey news is still regularly emerging from the Vancouver Canucks organization. Although little of that news involves players on the ice, it does involve players within the organization and those who are at home during the COVID-19 disruption.
In this post, I’ll try to keep Canucks fans more up-to-date on news emerging from the team.
Item One: Canucks Remind Tyler Myers of His Old Winnipeg Jets
As Sportsnet reported earlier this week, Tyler Myers is encouraged by the progress his new team has made this season. He made a direct comparison to the Winnipeg Jets in a video conference from his offseason home in Kelowna, BC earlier this week.
Myers noted, “I take a look at that year in Winnipeg where we almost made it to the Final — had a tough series against Vegas — [and] there’s a lot of similarities I can take from my experience with my first year here in Vancouver to that team.”
Myers enumerated some of those similarities: “One of them being there was such a solid, dynamic core in Winnipeg. I think we have such a good, solid core group of guys [in Vancouver]. You add in a piece here and there to keep developing your team. I guess what I’m trying to say is we’re close. We’re close to that point of becoming a winning team. It’s just a matter of experience and getting that feeling of what it takes to win. And part of that is getting that experience in the playoffs.”
Second, Myers also praised the play of the Canucks’ younger skaters and noted that they had become key drivers of play.
Related: History of the Houston Aeros
In the first season of his five-year, $30-million contract with the Canucks before the NHL suspension, Myers had six goals and 21 points in 68 games. It took him a bit of time (until December) to get his scoring going, but when he did, he added great value to the team.
Item Two: Tyler Toffoli Likes Vancouver – Will He Return, Maybe?
Earlier this past week, Tyler Toffoli reported that, although the Canucks made a good impression on him, he’s not sure if he’ll be back with them next season.
On a personal level, he shared that his teammates treated him “awesome” and the fans and the coaching staff were great. In a recent interview from his home in the Manhattan-Hermosa Beach area of Los Angeles where he’s lived since playing for the LA Kings, he said: “I had a lot of fun.” Then he repeated “awesome” once or twice more.
Although Toffoli admitted that he hasn’t really thought about where he’d go after this season, he admitted: “The only conversation that we’ve really had is to see where this season is going to go. That’s not my decision, where the cap’s going to go. As I said, nobody could have ever imagined this happening and this scenario.”
As Canucks fans know well, Toffoli will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. After he joined the team, he scored six goals and 10 points in 10 games. That was, in part, because head coach Travis Green played him alongside the great young Elias Pettersson and the successful J.T. Miller (who I voted for as the most exciting Canucks player this season in a poll). Toffoli also earned plenty of time on the team’s first power-play unit.
Item Three: Will Nikita Tryamkin Stay in the KHL?
In his 31 Thoughts column a few days ago, Elliotte Friedman noted that, although two Russian players had signed with NHL teams – Alexander Barabanov (the Toronto Maple Leafs) and Ilya Sorokin (with the New York Islanders), many KHL players have decided to stay home in Russia instead of moving to the NHL. Friedman specifically noted that, with the uncertainty of the NHL’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential flexibility of the salary cap, Konstantin Okulov has decided to play another season in the KHL.
Where does that leave the Canucks’ Nikita Tryamkin? As Friedman rightly notes, the team’s cap situation is tight and no one knows where it’s going to move. As a result, it’s not clear whether Tryamkin will play in the NHL or the KHL next season. In the latter part of March, Tryamkin’s agent Todd Diamond announced that his client’s game was better suited for the NHL than the KHL. At the time, it seemed to be an invitation for Canucks general manager Jim Benning to sign him; now, who knows?
Item Four: Nils Hoglander Scores Swedish Hockey League’s Goal of the Year
In a goal you have to see to believe, Nils Hoglander won the Swedish Hockey League’s (SHL) Goal of Year award for the second season in a row. The “lacrosse-style” goal was one of Hoglander’s nine goals and 16 points in 41 games this season with Rogle BK. The Canucks picked Hoglander in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft (40th overall). Whether he finds success in the NHL or not, he’s obviously a master at lacrosse-style goals.
What’s Next with the Canucks?
In another short bit of news, the enigmatic young and talented Russian forward Nikolay Goldobin signed a two-year KHL contract last week. Sadly, it didn’t work out with the Canucks; however, this wasn’t much of a surprise to the team that tried to trade him at the deadline.
The big news – and there’s plenty of time to figure this out – will be what happens to Toffoli. He looked good with the team; and, should the salary cap’s upper limit not deviate too much, Benning should be able to move some money to sign him. That would be a great move by the team.