Canucks News & Rumors: Lafreniere, Bear, Demko & More

In this edition of the Vancouver Canucks News & Rumors, the organization is interested in Alexis Lafreniere. Additionally, the Canucks are expected to start talks with defenceman Ethan Bear about an extension. Also, head coach Bruce Boudreau provided an update on Thatcher Demko and Tanner Pearson’s return from their injuries.

Canucks Interested in Lafreniere

On Monday, Rick Dhaliwal reported the Canucks are interested in New York Rangers forward Lafreniere. The organization is familiar with the 2020 first-round draft pick as his former agent, Emilie Castonguay, is an assistant general manager with the club. The Rangers are aware of the Canucks interest in the forward, as Vancouver checked in on Lafreniere after he was made a healthy scratch last week.

Alexis Lafreniere New York Rangers
Alexis Lafreniere, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Dhaliwal adds Lafreniere will not be cheap, but the Canucks can pull off a trade thanks to their assets, such as Bo Horvat. The 21-year-old is exactly what the Canucks are looking for in a trade as they attempt to retool their current roster. The organization is interested in adding players in their early 20s. Dhaliwal mentions the team was after former Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach before they traded him to the Montreal Canadiens.

Sign up for our regular 'Canucks Newsletter' for all the latest.

Lafreniere is off to a disappointing start to his NHL career. The former first-overall pick has posted 36 goals and 69 points in 172 games through three seasons. Although he is on pace to surpass his career high of 31 points this season, he isn’t playing up to the level expected of a first-overall pick. Head coach Gerard Gallant stated the forward has to be consistent to crack the lineup on nightly bases after Lafreniere was a healthy scratch in their Dec. 29 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Related: Canucks’ Potential Trade Pieces for Lafreniere

“’‘Consistency’ is a word I’ve mentioned before and we want him to be better,” Gallant said. “He wants to better, we want him to be better and be more consistent.” 

Canucks & Bear to Talk Extension

On the latest edition of Sportsnet’s 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported he expects contract talks between the Canucks and Bear to pick up this week. The organization traded their 2023 fifth-round pick for the right shot defenceman and forward Lane Pederson in late October. Bear is on a one-year, $2.2 million deal and will be a restricted free agent after this season.

Ethan Bear Vancouver Canucks
Ethan Bear, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)

Since joining the Canucks, Bear has jumped into a top 4 role on the blue line. Bear is a mobile and dependable defenceman for the Canucks. He has seen minutes alongside Quinn Hughes and Oliver Ekman-Larsson this season. In 26 games, he’s scored two goals and posted seven points with the team. The Canucks will like to keep his services as finding a quality right-shot defenceman is difficult in the NHL. Additionally, Bear is still young at 25 years old, and the club can help him grow as a player.

Demko, Pearson Nearing Return

Boudreau provided an update on Demko and Pearson’s return on Tuesday. He’s hoping both players will join the team on their upcoming road trip.

“[Demko] skated this morning, so that was really good. No equipment or nothing. He skated this morning and he felt pretty good. He’s hoping to at least put the equipment on, hoping before this week is out.”

Latest News & Highlights

Demko hasn’t played since early December due to a lower-body injury. Boudreau expected him back after the All-Star break in February. Meanwhile, Pearson hasn’t played since early November after hand surgery but is close to returning.

Klimovich Stepping Up in Abbotsford

Danila Klimovich has been hot in the American Hockey League with the Abbotsford Canucks lately. The forward had a tough start to the season, posting one point in 11 games at five-on-five, followed by being a healthy scratch in multiple games. However, in the last 14 games, he’s posted 12 points and now sits three points back for the team lead in five-on-five scoring.

Klimovich is one of the Canucks top prospects, and seeing him turn his season around is positive news for the club. The forward has yet to see time on the power play, and once he does, he will likely see an additional boost in his offensive output.