Although the Vancouver Canucks have lost six of their last seven games, they’re sitting in a pretty good spot in the Pacific Division with a 10-7-4 record. That record puts them in third place, just five points back of the division-leading Edmonton Oilers.
Vancouver now goes on a long and difficult six-game road trip, which starts against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. The Stars have recently pulled their game together after a poor start.
As the team gets ready to play the Stars, what news and rumors are emerging from the team and the organization? In this post, I’ll try to keep Canucks fans up to date.
Item One: What Will it Take to Re-Sign Pettersson?
Ah, the cost of success and stardom. Elias Pettersson is both a successful and emerging NHL star. And, these days that can cost a franchise dearly in terms of salary. Recently, Rick Dhaliwal of The Athletic wrote that, if Pettersson keeps scoring points the way he has, a clearer indication of his worth salary-wise will soon emerge.
The short question is: What will it cost to re-sign Pettersson to a Canucks’ contract?
Dhaliwal’s logic centered on considering Mitch Marner’s Toronto Maple Leafs contract as a way to compare the two players. However, he believes that will only be a starting point if Pettersson continues to score like he’s been scoring.
Dhaliwal notes, “Most agents I have talked to think Pettersson will get at least $10-12 million per season on a long-term deal.” That’s a big salary, and if Dhaliwal is correct, it will push the young Swede past Marner into Connor McDavid’s range (From ‘Dhaliwal’s Diary: Elias Pettersson’s big payday, Chris Tanev’s future and the latest word on Troy Stecher,’ The Athletic 11/12/2019).
A recent Jim Parsons The Hockey Writers rumors post noted that the Canucks can sign Pettersson to a new deal starting this July 1, and speculated that the team might try to get Pettersson under contract as soon as the organization is eligible to.
But Parsons asks: “What does Pettersson want to do?” That’s often a key question. If Pettersson really wants to stay in Vancouver, and it is an up-and-coming team, he might re-sign quickly. However, if he decides to wait another year – which he could – and he really prospers offensively, money-wise Pettersson might ante up the salary by another $1-$2 million per season.
Item Two: Canucks Injury Updates: Sutter, Ferland, Beagle, Roussel
The Canucks have a number of key players out with injuries and, fortunately, some of them might be returning soon. For example, Brandon Sutter (who suffered a groin strain) is expected to rejoin the team on this coming road trip. He hasn’t played since Nov. 12, but has five goals and eight points in 19 appearances this season. He’s playing well.
Micheal Ferland (who suffered a concussion) has been skating in Vancouver, head coach Travis Green reports. Ferland hasn’t played a shift since Oct. 20 and has one goal and four assists in 12 games this campaign. Although he has underachieved and not met expectations, it would be good to see him have a role with more ice time.
Jay Beagle (who has an undisclosed injury) practiced with the team early this week, and during practice centered the fourth line of Tim Schaller and Loui Eriksson. He’s missed the last three games but could be back in the lineup on Tuesday against the Stars. He’s just a steady presence on the ice.
Antoine Roussel, who’s had a knee injury, practiced with the team for the first time without his no-contact jersey. Although the target for him returning to the team was set as late December, shedding the no-contact jersey is a good sign. It means that the feisty Roussel is at least on track to return soon. If so, the 29-year-old will be welcomed back. Not only can he score (31 points over 65 games last season), but he too is a physical presence on the ice.
Item Three: Edler Getting Massive Minutes
Alex Edler is among the Canucks’ old guard. He logs lots of ice time, and this season is no different. Edler is the Canucks player who has averaged the most ice time per game (exactly 25 minutes). His scoring (14 points in 21 games) ties him for fifth on the team. And the 33-year-old has an outstanding 54.1 Corsi for percentage.
Given his success, it’s no wonder Green sends him into battle in all situations. However, I’m sure it isn’t lost on anyone that Edler turns 34 years old later this season. That, with his history of injuries, suggests perhaps some rest is coming.
The Canucks will need him for the second half of the season, which includes a great chance of pushing for a playoff spot.
Item Four: Horvat Is Simply Getting Better
Bo Horvat has taken the pressure of becoming the team’s captain and he’s run with it. He’s growing stronger as a hockey player. Averaging just under 20 minutes of ice time per game, he’s scored 15 points in 21 games and has started to carry the faceoff load. He’s by far the team’s best two-way player.
Considering how Green handles Edler’s ice time, does that mean Horvat will see more or less ice time going forward? Perhaps the return of players from injury will help. Specifically, I believe it depends on how Ferland plays. If Ferland can carry more weight in all departments, that allows both Horvat and Pettersson to stay fresher as the season progresses.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
The Canucks have an extended road trip and won’t play at home until next month, when they meet the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 1. They play six games in Dallas, Nashville, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and land in Edmonton on Nov. 30. Fortunately, however, the team doesn’t have a back-to-back during that run until they play the Oilers in Edmonton and then back home in Vancouver.
Where the team sits at the end of this six-game set is important. Should they emerge with at least a 3-3 record, they are set up nicely for December. But, that won’t be easy. It will take good goaltending, which the Canucks have. Good luck, Canucks.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act). He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf