In this edition of Vancouver Canucks’ News & Rumors, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes sign their extensions mid-way through training camp. Meanwhile, Brock Boeser highlights the team’s injured list as he could miss the remainder of preseason. Additionally, Travis Hamonic has decided he will not opt-out of the 2021-22 season, while the Canucks made their first roster cuts.
Pettersson and Hughes Extended
The Canucks announced they extended their two cornerstone players on Sunday. After months of negotiating, the two sides finally came to an agreement. The Canucks locked up Hughes to a six-year deal with an annual average value (AAV) of $7.85 million. Meanwhile, the club signed Pettersson to a bridge deal for three years with an AAV of $7.45 million. Both players were represented by J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson at CAA.
Hughes’ $7.85 million AAV is great for the Canucks, especially compared to the other defencemen who have signed extensions this offseason. For example, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenceman Zach Werenski to a six-year extension with an AAV of $9.58 million. Werenski, 24 years old, has scored 65 goals and posted 189 points in 335 games, which is good for .56 points per game played (P/GP). Meanwhile, Hughes, who turns 22 in October, has posted 11 goals and 97 points in 129 games, which gives him a .75 P/GP. He is one of the top offensive defencemen in the NHL. Although the biggest knock on him is his struggles in the defensive zone, that is something he can work on over the next six years.
As for Pettersson, he signed a bridge deal since the Canucks are in a cap crunch. For now, the Canucks will get more value out of the forward than his cap hit shows. After his three-year contract is up, he will still be a restricted free agent (RFA), but he should receive a big payday. After his contract expires, he will have arbitration rights and an $8.82 million Qualifying Offer. He will likely receive a deal closer to $10 million if he continues to produce at his .93 P/GP, with longer-term. Pettersson’s agent Barry noted they tried to get the forward a five-year deal and added he likes Vancouver and wants to stay with the organization.
Canucks fans will have to wait until the final two preseason games before watching the two players back on the ice.
Hamonic Not Opting Out
Hamonic decided not to opt out from the 2021-22 season after the deadline passed on Friday, Oct 1st. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman stated he thinks Hamonic will play but not at the start of the season.
Last week there were rumblings about Hamonic’s future with the Canucks. The defenceman did not join the team at the start of training camp, leading many to believe he was unvaccinated, which would make the season difficult for him. He had the option to either opt-out of the season or retire from hockey. Had he opted out or retired, the club would have an additional $3 million in cap space to add a replacement. Instead, the Canucks will have to wait and see when and if Hamonic joins the team.
Boeser Highlights Injured List
The Canucks announced a few injured forwards over the past few days. Boeser is the biggest name among the injured players, and he could miss the rest of the preseason.
The Canucks’ 2020-21 leader in points (49) and goals (23) is off to a tough start with an undisclosed injury. The worry lies in how big of an injury Boeser has suffered. Over the past few seasons, he has dealt with injuries, which have affected his play. He was healthy in his first season, which led to him being the runner-up for the Calder Trophy. Meanwhile, his second and third seasons were marred with injuries, which caused him to struggle during the season. Last season, he started the year without any injuries and stated it was the best he’s felt since his rookie season.
“Knowing my body now and knowing what I need to feel good, I’m feeling confident and I feel like my shot’s back where it was my first year.”Boeser said after the 2020-21 season opener.
If Boeser’s injuries are not as serious as the ones in the past, he should build on his impressive 2020-21 season. If they are, we could see the forward struggle at times throughout the season. The 2021-22 season is important for the 2015 first-round pick since he will be an RFA this offseason.
Additionally, general manager Jim Benning announced Brandon Sutter will not be available for the start of the season. With Motte and Sutter out, there is now an opportunity on the fourth line. North Delta, B.C. native Nic Petan is the leading candidate for the fourth-line center spot. Head coach Travis Green believes the forward has built on his skilled game through his stops around the NHL, gaining an understanding of puck management, backchecking, sticks in lanes and other parts. If he continues to play the way he has in the preseason, the spot is his to start the season.
William Lockwood is another player who the team could be taking a look at as a fourth-line centre but is more likely to start the season in Abbotsford. The team also revealed 2021 second-round pick Danila Klimovich has been dealing with a minor injury. Klimovich survived the team’s first round of cuts and should be back with the team soon, but there is no guarantee he will play in another preseason game.
The Pearson-Horvat-Hoglander Line
The Canucks beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Sunday night. The first line included Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson and Nils Hoglander. The trio impressed on Sunday night, as they scored two goals and posted an 81.82 Corsi For % through 6:57 time on ice.
The three made up the club’s second line for the majority of the 2020-21 season, and if they continue to play as they did on Sunday night throughout the remainder of the preseason, they should start the season together. Hoglander provided the line with an extra spark on Sunday, which was noticed by Green.
“He was a lot more energized, he skated better tonight, he was on the puck, first on the puck, winning puck battles, he was good tonight.”Green said about Hogalnder’s performance on Sunday.
With Boeser’s current injury, if he misses the start of the season, Conor Garland could find himself on the first line with Pettersson and J.T. Miller. Rookie Vasili Podkolzin will then start on the third line if Green decides to keep the trio of Pearson, Horvat and Hoglander together.
Canucks Reduce Roster
Benning announced the team had reduced its roster by 16 players on Sunday. Notable names included Jett Woo, who was loaned to the Abbotsford Canucks, Viktor Persson who was assigned to his junior team the Kamloops Blazers and Connor Lockhart, who was assigned to the Erie Otters of the OHL. Persson and Lockhart were unlikely to make the team, but Woo could have remained with the team for a bit longer through training camp. Instead, he will join Abbotsford and should be a top player for the AHL team.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.