Canucks’ News & Rumors: Halak, Pettersson, Ekman-Larsson & More

Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors. In this edition, we look at the recent Jaroslav Halak trade rumors. Also, Elias Pettersson has been placed on COVID protocol while there is an update on the Canucks matchup against the Ottawa Senators.

Halak in Trade Rumors

TSN’s Darren Dreger believes the Canucks would consider trading Halak. He adds the team is open to moving the veteran back up since Thatcher Demko is likely to play a lot. Additionally, the return for Halak should be decent.

Jaroslav Halak, Vancouver Canucks
Jaroslav Halak, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Matthew Sekeres reports if Halak plays two more games, he will earn a $1.25 million bonus, which applies to next season’s cap. Dreger adds the bonus money does play a part in the team trading him but isn’t the main reason for a potential move. However, Halak does have a full no-move clause before any trade is made. 

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The 36-year-old has started seven games this season, posting a 1-4-2 record, a 2.59 goals-against average, and a .915 save percentage. If the Canucks trade Halak, the team will likely call on 22-year-old Michael DiPietro to back up Demko for the remainder of the season. The 2017 third-round pick has played two NHL games in his career, but he has spent the last three seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL). This season he has a 3-6-2 record in Abbotsford. Demko will likely play a majority of the games for the remainder of the season, as he has been one of the best goalies in the NHL the last month. 

Game Against the Senators is a Go

The Canucks will take on the Senators on Saturday. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly joined Donnie and Dhali to confirm the game between the two teams will go on as scheduled. The game will be at 50% capacity due to attendance restrictions in B.C. The Canucks have not played a home game since their Dec. 16 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Pettersson on COVID Protocol

On Wednesday, the Canucks announced Pettersson has been placed into the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. The team will be without the forward in their match-up against the Senators and the start of their upcoming five-game road trip. Pettersson has struggled to produce this season as he has scored six goals and posted 17 points in 34 games. 

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Head coach Bruce Boudreau is hoping the forward can regain his confidence and believes he will have to push through the frustration. Boudreau also noted Pettersson is working harder in practice. The head coach adds the team will improve once Pettersson starts to produce once again (from ‘Canucks: Pettersson’s pluck to improve game now slowed by COVID-19,’The Province, January 6, 2022).

“I have no complaints. I know he hasn’t scored, but when I go home at night and (think) when Pettersson starts to score, and if everybody else can continue to do what they’re doing, we’ll be a real difficult team to beat,” Boudreau said. “We’re getting it done right now without a lot of scoring input by him, but I don’t anticipate that to be the case much longer.”

Ekman-Larsson Doing Great in D-Zone

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted an interesting stat about Oliver Ekman-Larsson in his recent 32 thoughts article. The veteran defenceman is the only player in the NHL to be on-ice for more than 500 minutes at 5-on-5 and allow fewer than 10 goals against (9).

Related: An Interview with Nadia Popovici, the Hero Behind the Bench

Ekman-Larsson has played well defensively this season, despite being considered an offensive defenceman. His play has been the opposite as he has only scored two goals and posted six points in 31 games. Part of it could be due to his 43.11 offensive zone start %, the second-lowest in his career. Nonetheless, Ekman-Larsson has played well, and his lack of offensive production hasn’t been a big deal, especially with Quinn Hughes’ play

Boudreau Instilling Confidence in Canucks

Boudreau joined Dreger and Ray Ferraro on “The Ray & Dregs Hockey Podcast” and discussed the team’s turnaround. He noted he used the same formula he used when he first joined the Washington Capitals and Anahiem Ducks. He joined both clubs mid-season before turning the teams around.

With the Capitals, he joined the time while they had a 6-14-1 record but finished the season with a 43-31-8 record. Meanwhile, with the Ducks, he joined the club when they had a 7-13-4 record in the 2011-12 season. Under Boudreau, the team had a 27-23-8 record. Although the Ducks missed the playoffs, they followed up with a 30-12-6 record in the 2012-13 season.

Boudreau’s formula included instilling confidence in his teams. All three teams, including the Canucks, were loaded with talent, and Boudreau noted the teams needed to be in a positive environment to succeed.

So far, the new head coach has worked wonders for the Canucks, and the timing couldn’t have been better. The club is now three points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Oilers have a 2-6-2 record in their last 10 games, while the Canucks have posted an 8-1-1 record in their last 10. 

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