Canucks News & Rumors: Kassian, Eriksson, Markstrom, Gillis & DiPietro

As well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the World Championships are starting soon, and the OHL Finals are going on as well. Although the Vancouver Canucks are not in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the team is represented in other games currently taking place. Here are some of the news and rumors currently surrounding the Canucks.

Item One: Might Zack Kassian Be Returning to the Canucks?

David Quadrelli of the Canucks’ Way wrote an interesting post mentioning that Zack Kassian becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020 and suggesting that the Canucks might consider trading for him. Quadrelli’s point is that the Edmonton Oilers are looking to make wholesale changes after missing the playoffs again in the 2018-19 season and thinks Kassian might be a piece the Oilers would consider moving.

Related – Canucks Calling: Carey Price, Please Come Home

Although Kassian’s time with the Canucks was less than smooth, the once-bad-actor Kassian did play some good hockey with the team. This last season, he ended the season playing right wing on the top line of Connor McDavid and 50-goal-scorer Leon Draisaitl, so he obviously had success scoring (scoring 15 goals himself) and running protection for the two stars.

Quadrelli suggests that a reunion with Kassian might be a low-risk move that could actually pay dividends for the team. Kassian certainly plays with an edge, and I could see him riding shotgun for the Canucks’ talented young Elias Pettersson.

Item Two: Loui Eriksson Disses Travis Green

Three Canucks teammates joined Team Sweden’s roster for the 2019 World Hockey Championships – Loui Eriksson, Pettersson, and Jacob Markstrom. On May 4, Stephan Roget of the Canucks Army reported that during an interview Eriksson did with the Swedish press about his time in Vancouver and the Canucks, he took an opportunity to speak disparagingly about coach Travis Green.

Edmonton Oilers Mikko Koskinen Vancouver Canucks' Loui Eriksson
Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen stops Vancouver Canucks’ Loui Eriksson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

What point Eriksson was trying to make is tough to tell, but he didn’t hesitate to note that he and Green weren’t getting along that well. Eriksson specifically noted a lack of ice time in the 2018-19 season and being asked to play a role that too defensive for his liking.

Ironically, it hasn’t worked the other way. Green speaks highly of Eriksson. For example, during an interview in February, Green told The Province, “The one thing about Loui is he never complains about anything. You give him a role and he’s happy to do it.”

Obviously, Eriksson isn’t as happy as Green thought. Then again, perhaps it’s just a bit of embarrassment for someone with three seasons left on a $6 million per year contact who does a decent job as a penalty killer but who hasn’t scored more than 11 goals in a season since coming to the Canucks. Obviously that Green’s fault?

Item Three: Mike Gillis Was Not Asked to Return to the Canucks

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini nipped any rumors that Mike Gillis might return to the Canucks in the bud. Aquilini tweeted that, “Contrary to media reports, I have not contacted Mike Gillis about returning to the Canucks and have no plans to do so.” That’s pretty straightforward.

Related – Canucks News: Gretzky, Pettersson, Cherry, Demko & Draft?

Rumors had been spreading that Aquilini and the Canucks were considering hiring a president of hockey operations, and Gillis’ name popped up. Gillis, although his initial hiring was controversial because he had no NHL management experience, served as the Canucks’ general manager from 2008 to 2014. During that time, the Canucks won five division titles and went to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

It might make sense that Gillis, whose name retains connections to a good time in Canuck history, might be considered for a job within the organization. But not so, according to the Canucks’ owner.

Aquilini has also denied that the team had approached former San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings president Dean Lombardi about a potential job.

The team has not had a president since Trevor Linden resigned following the 2017-2018 season.

Item Four: Canucks Writer & Broadcaster Jason Botchford Dies at 48

Last week, the Canucks released a statement that everyone at the organization was “deeply saddened” by the news of Jason Botchford’s death from apparent heart failure on the weekend. 

Botchford began his coverage of the NHL in 2005 at The Province newspaper and website. He also appeared frequently on TSN radio and television. Botchford’s column was a must-read for Canucks fans, because he was able to mix game analysis and humorous editorials.

Botchford had left The Province in September 2018 to move to the online sports website The Athletic, where he became a senior writer. His Twitter account had more than 59,000 followers.

His death is a loss to all Canucks fans, but especially to his wife and three young children. He will be missed.

Item Five: Jacob Markstrom Leaves Game After Collision

In an odd play during a tune-up game for the World Championships, Canuck (and Team Sweden) goalie Jacob Markstrom left the crease to chase down a puck and was smashed to the ice in a violent collision with Finnish forward Juhani Tyrvainen. Tyrvainen and Markstrom met head-on during the second period of a game between Sweden and Finland played in the Czech Republic. Markstrom left the game and didn’t return.

Vancouver Canucks Jacob Markstrom
Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Apparently, Markstrom suffered a shoulder injury on the play. At first, the injury looked quite serious; however, fortunately, the injury is now reported to be less serious than first feared. Team doctor Peter Strom reported, “It is an injury to the upper body but no danger to the World Championship.” He noted that Markstrom was taken out for precautionary reasons.

Item Six: Michael DiPietro Injured in the OHL Finals

It wasn’t a good few days for Canucks goalies. A day before Markstrom’s injury, Canucks goalie prospect Michael DiPietro suffered what looked on film to be a serious ankle injury on Saturday during the OHL Final, and he had to leave the game.

Related: Canucks Prospect Michael DiPietro Is Setting the OHL On Fire

Early reports are that DiPietro suffered a first-degree high-ankle sprain. He’s listed as day-to-day, but no timetable has been suggested for his return. However, from what I watched on the film, the injury will likely keep the 19-year-old Ottawa 67’s goalie out of the remainder of the series.

There’s hope, however, that DiPietro might be available for the Memorial Cup if his Ottawa team makes it. That series would begin around May 17.

What’s Next?

Although they are not the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the World Hockey Championships should be good viewing – especially if you are a Canucks fan. It’s hard to know what international team to cheer for, with so many young Canucks players on Team Sweden. Good luck to all Canucks players.