Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors. In this edition, we discuss the club’s reported interest in Russian forward Andrei Kuzmenko. The Canucks are exploring Tyler Myers’ trade value, and they are not sold on Brock Boeser. Additionally, Elias Pettersson has caught fire, while head coach Bruce Boudreau has shown trust in his fourth line of Tyler Motte, Juho Lammiko and Matthew Highmore.
Canucks Interested in Kuzmenko
Rick Dhaliwal reported the Canucks have reached out to Russian free agent Kuzmenko’s agent. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the Canucks are among 30 teams in the NHL interested in adding Kuzmenko, but teams won’t be able to interview him until the end of his Kontinental Hockey League’s (KHL) season.
The Canucks are interested in adding more talent from Europe as the club doesn’t have much in terms of prospects who are NHL ready. Part of the reason the president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford hired general manager Patrick Allvin is due to his connections in Europe (from ‘Canucks hire Allvin as 12th general manager in team history,’ The Province, January 28, 2022).
“Patrick did stand out. And he’s a very smart guy. He knows players. He knows how to evaluate players,” Rutherford said. “He knows how to find players. He’s well-connected in Europe, where we’d like to get into that market a little bit more and try to get some players out of there. And he just has a lot of good things going for him and as I said, we already have the working relationship. We know how that’s going to go.”
Allvin is the perfect GM for the Canucks as they start looking towards Europe to add talented players who are looking to play in the NHL. Adding Kuzmenko would be a big add for the new regime.
Canucks Exploring Myers Trade Value
The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reports the Canucks are exploring the trade value of defenceman Myers. The club is gauging the interest on multiple forwards, including J.T. Miller, Conor Garland and Boeser, leading up to the March 21st trade deadline. The Canucks are waiting to see how the club performs in the next couple of weeks before making a trade.
“The objective is to not only shake up the roster and retool a little bit, but also to free up a little bit of cap space going into next season so that Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford can really put their mark on this club,” Pagnotta said.
Myers signed a five-year, $30 million deal with the Canucks before the 2019-20 season, which has two years remaining following this season. The defenceman has played his best hockey with the club this season but is a good candidate to trade since the organization added Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the blue line this past offseason.
Canucks Not Sold on Boeser
The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli added Boeser to his trade targets list at number six. Seravalli notes trade chatter around the 24-year-old forward has grown louder as the Canucks are not sold on paying him his large qualifying offer of $7.5 million this offseason.
Boeser has scored 15 goals and posted 28 points in 46 games this season but has been impressive under Bruce Boudreau, as he’s scored 11 goals and posted 18 points in 24 games since the coaching change. Seravalli adds Rutherford has expressed the organization’s need to create salary-cap flexibility, which is why the Canucks may trade one of their top forwards. He also adds it is much more possible that Boeser is traded instead of J.T. Miller.
Seravalli also questions if the New Jersey Devils will be a fit for the winger. The Canucks have reportedly been interested in adding Devils centre Pavel Zacha, and he could be involved in a potential deal for Boeser leading up to the trade deadline.
Pettersson Regains Confidence
Pettersson has caught fire mid-way through the season after struggling for months. Over the past 15 games, he’s scored eight goals and posted 17 points, matching his point total through his first 37 games.
The forward added the wrist injury, which ended his 2020-21 season, affected him as it took him time to find his game after eight months between games.
During his recent run, where he has posted 10 points in his last six games, he has spent time playing alongside rookie Vasily Podkolzin and sophomore Nils Hoglander. Although the two forwards haven’t matched Pettersson’s production during their 56 even-strength minutes together, they’ve outscored their opposition 5-1. Additionally, they’ve posted a 56 Corsi-for percentage and an expected goals differential of 64.5%. The Canucks are hoping Pettersson’s hot streak can rub off on the two young forwards as Boudreau continues to turn to the closest off-ice trio on the roster.
Boudreau Trusts Motte-Lammikko-Highmore Line
Boudreau has found a trustworthy fourth line in Motte, Lammiko and Highmore (from ‘Canucks 5, Kraken 2: Contract Line is money in much-needed victory,’ The Province, February 21, 2022). The trio scored the opening goal against the Seattle Kraken on Monday in the opening minute of the game.
“They take direction really well and they do what you ask them to do,” Boudreau said. “And they can all skate. You take that and they pressure. They used to hold their own and now they’re scoring some goals and that makes them even more valuable.
“I like to put them on when the other team scores because they can change the direction and momentum a lot of times. Any time a coach has trust in players and they have it with the coach, it works.”
All three forwards are slated to be free agents after this season. Motte will be an unrestricted free agent, while Matthew Highmore and Juho Lammikko will be restricted free agents.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.