Canucks News: Gretzky, Pettersson, Don Cherry, Demko & Draft Picks?

The first round of the playoffs is officially completed, and there are a few surprises. Who would have thought that in both the Eastern and Western conferences the #7 and #8 seeds would advance to Round 2? The Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, and Dallas Stars remain in the hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

In this set of news and rumors, I want to focus on the recent news surrounding the Vancouver Canucks. Furthermore, there’s continuing speculation about who the Canucks might choose in their 10thoverall pick.

Item One: Wayne Gretzky Really Likes Elias Pettersson

In an interview in the Swedish newspaper Expressen, Wayne Gretzky talked about Canucks super rookie Elias Pettersson. The Great One had much to say about Pettersson. And, it was all good.

Related: Pettersson Is the Canucks’ Best Rookie Ever

In the translated version, Gretzky noted that he and Pettersson shared similarities. First, neither was the fastest skater, had the hardest shot, or were big players. But Gretzky commends Pettersson for seeing the ice well and understanding the game. Gretzky also raved about Pettersson’s work ethic, noting that if he loses the puck, he immediately tries to win it back.

Gretzky also noted that Pettersson was similar to NBA great Michael Jordan. Jordan wasn’t the first person chosen in the NBA Draft, but he was obviously the class of that draft – or of any other. Jordan became a franchise player with the Chicago Bulls in much the same way Pettersson might become the Canucks’ franchise player.

St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson
St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington makes a save on Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)

Gretzky said that he loves watching Pettersson play because he’s “so selfless.” He hopes the young Swede “will score that fourth, fifth or six point in the game.”

Item Two: Don Cherry Doesn’t Think Elias Pettersson Should Be Rookie of the Year

Speaking of Pettersson, in a Coaches Corner segment Cherry called Jordan Binnington amazing and stated the Binnington should be the Rookie of the Year instead of Pettersson.

When Ron MacLean interjected that Binnington had not played enough games and that “Elias Pettersson’s going to win the Rookie of the Year.” Cherry retorted, “I don’t care! He (Binnington) should be Rookie of the Year… You know he should be Rookie of the Year.”

Related: Pettersson vs. Binnington: Who Will Win the Calder?

Item Three: Thatcher Demko Re-Signs with the Canucks

The NHL reported that the Canucks had re-signed goaltender Thatcher Demko to a two-year contract extension worth $1.05 million annually. General manager Jim Benning noted that the team was “pleased with the progression Thatcher took in his game last season and the way he held his own against NHL competition down the stretch.”

Benning added, “Playing in the World Championships will be another important part of his development and we’re excited to see where he takes his game next.”

The 23-year-old Demko played in nine games for the Canucks during the 2018-19 season, with a 4-3-1 record, a .913 save percentage (SV%), and a 2.81 goals-against average. During March, Demko had a .924 SV% in six starts. In his best game, he made 37 saves against the Los Angeles Kings. Interestingly, Demko was the only goaltender in Canucks history to win his first two NHL games.

Vancouver Canucks Thatcher Demko
Vancouver Canucks’ goalie Thatcher Demko (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Demko, who is from San Diego, California, was the 36th-overall pick by the Canucks in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Item Three: Alex Edler Named Canucks’ Nominee for King Clancy Award

Last week, the NHL announced its team nominees for the 2018-19 King Clancy Memorial Trophy. Alex Edler was named the Canucks’ nominee for the award, which is given “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

Edler was not the first Canucks player to be honored. In 2018, Henrik and Daniel Sedin were recognized by the NHL for their years of community work. During their tenure with the Canucks, the Sedins were constantly present in the community, supporting the B.C. Children’s Hospital, the SPCA, the Canucks for Kids Fun, and other community health organizations. The brothers also gave tickets to thousands of children so they could attend Canucks’ games.

Edler has worked with Canuck Place and has visited children at Children’s Hospital. His Eagle’s Nest Program has hosted children and their families who deal with illness or injury at Canucks games.

Related: Canucks’ News & Notes: Markstrom, Pettersson, Edler & Hughes Rumor

The three finalists for the 2018-19 King Clancy Memorial Trophy were named on April 23: they were the New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and the Minnesota Wild left-winger Jason Zucker.

For what’s it’s worth, I personally wish to thank all those NHL players who use their money, time, and influence to help others within their communities – regardless of whatever team they might play with. On this count, I am not a homer.

Item Four: Soderstrom, Caufield or Harley Possible No. 10 Draft Pick

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the Canucks No. 10 pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Last week it was Victor Soderstrom; this week Cole Cauflield was trending on Vancouver-area radio.

However, Craig Button of TSN, who matches different team’s needs with the available talent in the draft, projects that Caufield – who has been described as the best goal scorer in this year’s draft – will be chosen by the Edmonton Oilers at No. 8.

Thomas Harley Mississauga Steelheads
Thomas Harley of the Mississauga Steelheads. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

With the Canucks as the other Canadian team picking in the top-10, Button sees Mississauga Steelheads defenseman Thomas Harley as a good fit at No. 10. The 6-foot-3, 188-pound defenseman scored 11 goals, 47 assists and 58 points in 68 OHL games this season. Harley is currently representing Canada at the World U-18 tournament in Sweden.

As Button noted, “I could see Thomas Harley and (2018 draft pick) Quinn Hughes being dominant defensemen for a long time in Vancouver.”

What’s Next?

There are Stanley Cup Playoff games to watch, and lots of fan discussion about the NHL Draft. In the meantime, Canuck fans will be as engaged as ever speculating to see what names pop up as possible No. 10 picks this week.