Canucks’ News & Rumors: Hughes, Rutherford, Garland & More

In this edition of Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors, Quinn Hughes is out for the team’s next three games, while Jack Rathbone posted a five-point game in Abbotsford. Meanwhile, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford, new general manager Patrik Allvin and the Canucks front office is starting to discuss how the club will approach the trade deadline. Also, Conor Garland discussed his struggles before Tuesday’s game against his former team. 

Hughes Out With COVID

The Canucks announced Hughes has been placed into the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Monday. The defenceman missed Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes and will miss Wednesday night’s game against the New York Islanders and Saturday night’s matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Losing Hughes is a big blow to the Canucks, as the defenceman plays a large role in the team’s offence. He has two goals and 34 points in 45 games, second-best on the team and most on the defence by 22 points. In his absence, the Canucks will need some of their other top defencemen to step up, such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who posted three points against his former team on Tuesday, and Tyler Myers.

Rathbone Posts Five Points in Abbotsford

Rathbone posted an impressive five-point (one goal, four assists) performance in the Abbotsford Canucks’ 8-5 win over the Tucson Roadrunners. Rathbone made the team in Vancouver out of training camp and participated in nine games this season before being sent to Abbotsford to regain his confidence. 

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With Hughes out, many expected the Canucks to recall Rathbone as he can provide the club with offence from the back end. Instead, the Canucks decided against it for a few reasons. First, Rathbone has missed a good chunk of games in the American Hockey League due to a shoulder injury. Next, head coach Bruce Boudreau discussed the team’s reason for not bringing in the 22-year-old defenceman. 

It is hard to agree with the club’s reasoning as to why Rathbone wasn’t called up. He’s played in eight of the team’s last 10 games, which includes his five-point performance. Additionally, the Canucks’ defence hasn’t provided the club with much offence outside of Hughes, and with him out of the lineup, this would be the perfect time for Rathbone to prove himself. 

Rutherford, Allvin & Front Office Starting to do Real Work

The Canucks front office is going to start to do real work as members start to arrive in Vancouver (from ‘ Canucks to chart future in key meetings this week, Jaroslav Halak’s bonus and Jim Rutherford talks trade rumours,’ The Athletic, February 7, 2022). The front office will be making crucial decisions on how the club will proceed ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21st. 

Related: 3 Canucks Defencemen to Step up With Hughes Out

Allvin has been working the phones for trades since last week, while new assistant GM Emilie Castonguay will take over the day-to-day management of the Canucks’ roster and the salary cap. Director of player development, Ryan Johnson, covered Castonguay’s role before the club hired her. The club now has all the pieces of their front office set and will begin to work on a few fixes. The team needs to clean up their salary cap and add prospects. However, there is belief the organization will wait a few weeks before making a major move to get a sense if the Canucks will make it to the postseason.

Garland Talks About Struggles

Garland scored the opening goal for the Canucks against this former team, the Coyotes, on Tuesday. The forward discussed his recent struggles before the game. He noted there are no excuses for his poor play over the past eight weeks as he hasn’t played to his standards or consistently.

Although he had posted 10 goals and 24 points in 41 games, Garland had only scored one goal and posted three points in the past 12 games.  The forward has hit a tough stretch, which is disappointing as he is expected to be one of the club’s top producers. However, he started off the season great, being one of the team’s better players while the Canucks struggled to pick up wins. A reason for his struggles could be due to the multiple breaks in between games. The Canucks had a few games postponed in late December and early January, and then Garland missed a few games as he was placed on COVID protocol.

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Therefore, there is still hope he will bounce back to finish off the season. Garland’s goal against Arizona adds hope that the forward has returned to his productive ways.

Hamonic and Poolman Update

Defenceman Travis Hamonic should return to the Canucks’ lineup within the next week, while Tucker Poolman was placed on injured reserve as he is dealing with headaches and migraines. Hamonic has missed a majority of the season as he has only played in nine games this season, while Poolman has played in 39 games for the club. The Canucks have invested $5.5 million in both players and expected them to be locked on the right side, but that has not been the case.