In this edition of Vancouver Canucks’ News & Rumors, the team is hopeful Brock Boeser plays on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. Conor Garland has been impressive in his first three games with the club, while there was an update on the Travis Hamonic situation. Additionally, Brandon Sutter will be out for a while, and the Canucks had a few more roster updates.
Boeser Participates in Team’s Practice
After being out of the lineup for a few weeks, Boeser was a full participant at practice on Monday. He lined up next to Elias Pettersson and NIls Hoglander on the team’s first line.
Boeser had been skating with the team as an extra forward but was finally a full participant at practice on Monday. Participating in practice was the first step in his return to the lineup. The forward said he is being smart with his body early in the season, dealing with any injuries now instead of pushing through the pain and potentially dealing with it later. He has been with the team on the road as the Canucks are three games into their six-game road trip. He and Green are both hopeful the forward can suit up to take on the Sabres on Tuesday.
Canucks are off to a 1-1-1 start in the 2021-22 season but have been without their 2020-21 leader in goals and points. Boeser has been out of the team’s lineup since Oct 1st when head coach Travis Green said the forward would miss a week. He started the season on injured reserve, which means the Canucks would have to designate someone off their roster before activating him.
Canucks fans had their first chance at seeing Garland suit up in their team’s jersey, and the forward impressed. Garland, who has a point in each game (one goal, two assists), showed off his skill, but the most noticeable part of his game has been his compete level.
In Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the forward did a lot to keep his team in the game. From scoring his first goal as a Canuck, and the team’s only goal of the game to drawing penalties for his club(from ‘Canucks notebook: Conor Garland using skill, will to drag club into the fight,’ The Province, October 17, 2021).
“I don’t think it’s (drawing) penalties from being a pest or anything — it’s from having the puck on your stick and being hard to defend,” Garland said. “When I’m playing well, I’m using my edges and speed. And when you beat somebody, they sometimes have to haul you down and it’s probably more from that, being competitive in dirty areas.”
Garland’s performance also impressed his head coach, who described him as ultracompetitive.
“It’s a big part of his game — he’s a competitive guy,” said Green. “And those guys go to hard places and are involved around the puck and do whatever it takes to win. You can’t have enough players who are ultracompetitive and that’s what we look for.”
Hamonic Placed on Temporary Leave of Absence
The Canucks have placed Hamonic on a temporary leave of absence, general manager Jim Benning said in a statement on Monday. The Canucks waived the veteran defenceman before the start of the 2021-22 season, as he is unsure if he will play this season and remains at home dealing with personal matters.
The organization signed the defenceman to a two-year contract with a cap hit of $3 million. Since he was buried in the minors, his cap-hit decreased to $1.875 million. Now that the club has placed him on a temporary leave of absence, his current cap-hit is $0. Therefore, the Canucks have $1.950 million in cap space, but the club prefers Hamonic joins the team if and when he is able to.
The Canucks announced Sutter will be out for a while as the forward is still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms months after testing positive for the virus.
“He’s experiencing some of the symptoms of the COVID. I guess they call it being a long hauler,” Benning said. “He still has some issues he’s working through with that. So once he’s feeling better, the first step for him is to get feeling better and then once he’s healthy enough and feeling better, he’ll start working out and get back out on the ice.”
Sutter trained with few problems during the offseason, but fatigue became a problem for him mid-way through August. Benning stated there is no timetable for when he will return.
The team had an outbreak in late March, which saw 24 players and four coaches test positive. The outbreak kept the team off the ice for over three weeks.
The Canucks had two roster updates over the past week. First, the Canucks signed Alex Chiasson to a one-year, $750,000 contract. The team signed the forward to a professional tryout, and he appeared in four pre-season games.
“Alex is an established veteran who plays a physical game and brings a valuable net-front presence to our team, particularly on the power play,” said Benning. “He’s a bigger player that doesn’t shy away from the tough areas of the ice and has fit in well with the rest of our forward group so far.”
He has one goal and two points through three games this season. He has split time playing on the team’s top-six and bottom-six while playing on the first power-play unit in Boeser’s absence.
Additionally, the team placed Zach MacEwen on waivers, but the Philadelphia Flyers claimed him. The 25-year-old recorded one goal, one assist and 44 penalty minutes through 34 games last season.
Abbotsford Canucks Pickup First Win
The Abbotsford Canucks opened their inaugural season on Saturday against the Bakersfield Condors, suffering a 5-3 loss. However, the American Hockey League (AHL) team won their first game on Sunday against the Ontario Reign in a shootout.
Danila Klimovich scored his second AHL goal on Sunday night. The 2021 second-round pick is off to a hot start in Abbotsford, moving up the lineup and playing with Carson Focht and Phil Di Giuseppe. Originally, the forward was supposed to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), but after his hot start, he should remain in the AHL for the remainder of the season and could potentially make the jump to the NHL for a few games with Vancouver.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.