In this edition of the Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors, Canucks assistant general managers (GM) Emilie Castonguay and Cammi Granato have drawn interest from other NHL clubs. Also, Kevin Bieksa commented on the team’s culture heading into next season. Additionally, Nils Hoglander helped the Abbotsford Canucks advance to the Pacific Division Semi-Final in the American Hockey League (AHL) 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Interest Across NHL in Canucks Front Office Members
Canucks assistant GMs Castonguay and Granato have drawn interest from NHL teams for open executive positions. On last the April 19 edition of Canucks Central on Sportsnet 650, Irfaan Gaffar mentioned Castonguay’s interview with the Philadelphia Flyers for their president role. Elliotte Friedman and Rick Dhaliwal confirmed the interest around the league in Castonguay. Gaffar said he isn’t sure if Granato has an interview with the Flyers, but he did hear her name around vacant jobs.
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However, on the April 24 edition of Sportsnet’s 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Friedman noted Castonguay told the Canucks she wasn’t looking to leave and was happy to be with the organization. Castonguay will likely remain with the club and continue managing the cap and contract negotiations. As for Granato, Friedman stated she is on the Flyers raider on Donnie and Dhali.
Bieksa Comments Canucks Culture
Bieksa joined Donnie and Dhali on Monday and discussed the Canucks culture moving forward. He talked about the club’s strong finish to the season and how they can improve moving forward.
“They ended the season amazing, obviously,” Bieksa said. “It starts all over fresh in the offseason, but I think Tocchet’s been really good for them, and Adam Foote and Gonchar. These guys have been really good for them. They’re all ex-players and they’re all like tough, gritty, take-no-shortcuts kind of guys. Certainly, they were when they played.
“I’m all about habits. I just like the habits, and the way that guys competed down the stretch. The wins were nice, and let’s be honest, having Demko healthy was pretty nice as well.”
Bieksa added the Canucks need a fresh start, and the games to start next season will be a lot harder than they were down the stretch at the end of the 2022-23 season. He also commented on his culture speech from November, noting the team will have to change the culture. He added the culture of this group won’t be the same as the one the Canucks had when the defenceman was on the team since their leader group is different.
“Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are a lot different than me and Ryan Kesler. Let’s be honest. Those are different personalities. They’re going to form their own leadership style, and then they’re going to hopefully run with that.”
Hoglander Leads Abbotsford Through First Round
Abbotsford beat the Bakersfield Condors in the first round of the AHL 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. After a 3-0 win in Game 1, the club finished the series in Game 2 with a 4-2 win.
The player who stood out in the first round was 2019 second-round pick, Hoglander. The Swedish winger posted a goal and an assist in Game 1 and followed up with the game-winner and an assist on the second goal in Game 2. Hoglander has two goals and four points in two games to start the playoffs. The Swedish forward is continuing his improved play in the AHL. He posted 14 goals and 32 goals in 45 games after the Canucks sent him to the minors.
As for Abbotsford, they are on to the Pacific Division Semifinal and will face the Calgary Flames minor league team, the Calgary Wranglers. The best-of-five series starts on April 26.
Lekkerimaki Strong Finish
Jonathan Lekkerimaki has impressed in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan playoffs this season. After a tough performance in the regular season and the 2023 World Junior Championships (WJC), the Canucks’ 2022 first-round pick has turned it on in the postseason for Djurgardens IF. He recorded three goals and nine points in 29 regular season games before he was injured. At the WJC, he posted one goal and four points in seven games with Team Sweden.
However, in 12 playoff games, he’s scored four goals and posted 13 points, including four assists in Game 4 of the Final. This is a good sign for the Canucks, as Lekkerimaki is the organization’s top prospect and is bouncing back after a rough year. The 18-year-old will have to be productive to keep Djurgarden’s hopes alive as they trail 3-1 against MoDo.