In the first edition of Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors in 2022, Jim Rutherford narrows his general manager (GM) list to five candidates. Meanwhile, the NHL named Thatcher Demko the third star of December. Additionally, the Canucks have another game postponed, while Brock Boeser flew back to Vancouver on Monday from Anaheim while being on the COVID protocol list.
Rutherford Narrows Down GM List
The Province’s Ben Kuzma believes Patrik Allvin has moved to the top of Rutherford’s GM hiring list after he noted his preference for the Canucks’ next GM (from ‘Canucks notebook: Has Patrik Allvin moved to top of GM hiring list?,’ The Province, January 3, 2022). Rutherford is narrowing his list down to five candidates from 40. He notes the team’s next GM should be someone who hasn’t taken on the role before, as well as someone he can mentor into sticking with the club for a long time.
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Allvin meets all of Rutherford’s requirements as the Canucks’ president promoted him to the assistant GM position with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019. Allvin has been with the Penguins since 2006 but could be making a change shortly, as he has been the front runner for the job for a few weeks now. He started as a European scout with the Montreal Canadiens before taking on the same position with the Penguins. He was later named the director of European scouting with the club in 2012 before becoming the director of amateur scouting in 2017. He is still an assistant GM under Ron Hextall, although he spent a few weeks as the interim GM in Pittsburgh after Rutherford’s departure last season.
Demko Named Third Star in December
Demko was named the NHL’s third star in December. Toronto Maple Leafs’ centre Auston Matthews was named the first star, while Vegas Golden Knights’ winger Max Pacioretty was named the second star.
Demko played a key role in the team’s success last month, finishing December with a 7-1-0 record. He registered a 1.72 goals-against average (GAA), a .946 save percentage (SV%) and one shutout. The 26-year-old now has a 15-11-1 record on the season, along with a 2.55 GAA and a .920 SV%, a career-best in both categories.
The 2014 36th overall pick was a strong consideration to be the starting goaltender for the U.S. at the 2022 Winter Olympics before the NHL announced the league’s players will not participate. Additionally, his impressive performance in December has led to him joining the Vezina Trophy conversation(from ‘Canucks: Demko better than advertised in latest remarkable run,’ The Province, January 3, 2022). Despite the added hype, Demko remains focused on helping the Canucks find their way into the postseason.
“It’s an honour to be in that discussion, but I haven’t even played half the games yet,” said Demko. “So we can just cool down on that a bit because we’ve got a lot more work to do to get into the playoffs and have some ground to make up — but we’ve set ourselves up pretty good.”
Demko will need to play at a Vezina Trophy candidate level to keep the Canucks in the playoff hunt.
Canucks Games Postponed
On Dec. 31, the Canucks announced the postponement of their Jan. 5th matchup against the New York Islanders due to current attendance restrictions in B.C. The restrictions in B.C. only allow for 50% capacity at Rogers Arena.
The game will be rescheduled for a later date when the restrictions are either eased or lifted. The game against the Islanders is one of eight games postponed by the NHL due to the attendance records in Canada. The Canucks have had six games postponed this season. Meanwhile, the club is scheduled to host the Ottawa Senators next on Jan. 8th.
Boeser’s Return to Vancouver
Boeser was expected to fly from Anaheim to Vancouver on Monday. The forward had been quarantining in a hotel in Anaheim after being placed on COVID protocol while the team was on a road trip in California.
An update on whether or not he has returned to Vancouver has not been provided as of Tuesday morning. Boeser is a U.S. citizen, which could cause problems in his ability to cross the border. Once he returns, he will have to take a PCR test after his five-day quarantine in Vancouver. Luckily for the Canucks, the team isn’t scheduled to play until Saturday. Therefore, if Boeser tests negative before the game against Ottawa, he will likely be back in the lineup. Additionally, if the forward is having problems crossing the border, he could stay in the U.S. as the team has a five-game road trip south of the border following the game against Ottawa.
Boeser has posted nine goals and 17 points in 28 games this season but has been on fire since the team added Bruce Boudreau. In his first six games under the new head coach, he’s scored five goals and posted seven points.
Canucks Continue to Roll
After two weeks off, the Canucks returned by picking up three out of four possible points in California. The team now has an 8-1-0 record under Boudreau. The club is now three points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Canucks’ upcoming road trip following their home game against the Senators will be a good test to see where the club is as they take on the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and the Nashville Predators.
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Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.