Canucks News & Rumors: Ekman-Larsson, NHL Draft, Boudreau & More

In this edition of Vancouver Canucks News & Rumors, the club is exploring the trade market for defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The NHL held the 2022 Draft Lottery on Tuesday, and the Canucks remained at the 15th overall slot. Additionally, head coach Bruce Boudreau commented on the current contract negotiations between him and the organization.

Canucks to Explore Ekman-Larsson Trade Market

Elliotte Friedman said he thinks the Canucks are trying to find a market for defenceman Ekman-Larsson. However, he adds the veteran does have control over his future. He has five years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.260 million deal and a no-move clause. 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson Vancouver Canucks
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Generating interest for Ekman-Larsson could be tough due to his age and his contract. Although the defenceman played well in his first season with the Canucks, his offensive production dropped. He scored five goals and posted 29 points in 79 games, which is mostly due to Quinn Hughes quarterbacking the team’s first power-play unit. 

Canucks Will Draft 15th Overall

The NHL held the 2022 Draft Lottery on Tuesday, and the Canucks are set to draft at 15th overall. This will be the organization’s first draft under their new regime headed by president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin. 

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“I think there is a lot of good players in the draft,” Allvin said. “I don’t think there is a lot of difference between, I would say, maybe four, five and down to 15, 16. Obviously, we know that with time there might be some good players being picked after (15). I think our staff is pretty excited about picking 15th.”

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The player the Canucks select at 15th overall likely won’t join the team immediately and will have time to develop into an NHLer. A few names Canucks fans could hear on draft day includes forwards Conor Geekie and Brad Lambert and defencemen such as Pavel Mintyukov and Owen Pickering.

Boudreau Hopes to Confirm Return Next Week

Boudreau told Rob Simpson of Vancouver Hockey Now that he hopes to confirm the option to return for the 2022-23 season with the Canucks by next week. He added there are a couple of minor details to work out and that the wait isn’t about leverage. Rutherford mentioned the club will not offer Boudreau an extension until after he has coached a full season. Simpson reported the extension isn’t one of the details the head coach mentioned.

Canucks Past Draft Choices Revealed

The Canucks had the worst luck in the NHL Draft Lottery from 2016 to 2019, as they club dropped at least one slot. In 2016, they dropped from third overall to fifth overall, while in 2017, they dropped from second overall to fifth overall. In 2018, they dropped from sixth to seventh, and in 2019, they dropped from ninth to 10th. 

Related: 3 Canucks That Could Be Traded for the Devils’ 2nd Overall Pick in 2022

The Athletic’s Harman Dayal discussed who the team would have selected in each of those four drafts had they not dropped down (from ‘Cale Makar? Trevor Zegras? How Canucks could have looked if the draft lottery didn’t exist,’ The Athletic, May 10, 2021). In 2016, the club would’ve taken Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third overall pick instead of Olli Juolevi. As for 2017, instead of selecting Elias Pettersson, the team would’ve taken star defenceman Cale Maker, and in 2019, they would’ve selected Trevor Zegras if he was available over Vasily Podkolzin. However, in 2018, the Canucks had Hughes ranked higher than the seventh overall spot and would have taken him had they selected sixth overall. 

Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canucks
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Canucks dropping in the 2017 and 2019 NHL Draft is something fans of the club are likely fine with, as the club walked away with Pettersson and Podkolzin. However, dropping in the 2016 NHL Draft from third overall to fifth overall and selecting Juolevi instead of Dubois is tough. Dubois has posted 102 goals and 239 points in 361 NHL games and is top-six centre, while Juolevi played in 23 games with the Canucks before they traded him to Florida. 

Canucks Finalist for Kuzmenko

Rick Dhaliwal reported the Canucks are now finalists in signing Russian free agent Andrei Kuzmenko. The club has made the shortlist of teams, while a decision is still weeks away, according to Kuzmenko’s agent. He can only sign a one-year, entry-level deal. The forward is 26 years old and was second in Kotential Hockey League (KHL) scoring this season.

More Canucks Headed to IIHF World Championships

Last week, the Canucks announced Ekman-Larsson was headed to Finland to play for Team Sweden in the IIHF World Championship. This week, the veteran defenceman will have a few other Canucks joining him in the tournament. Prospect Linus Karlsson will join Ekman-Larsson on Team Sweden. Meanwhile, Juho Lammikko will play for Team Finland, and goaltender Arturs Silovs will compete for Latvia.