The Vancouver Canucks didn’t quite make the playoffs last season, although they came closer than most people expected at the beginning of the season. The team’s success had mostly to do with the emergence of super-rookie Elias Pettersson and the surprisingly solid goaltending of Jacob Markstrom. However, it is clear that, if the team wants to be successful, they need better players.
In this edition of Canucks News and Rumors, I’ll explore some of the latest news and rumors surrounding the team.
Item One: Jim Benning Will Be Active on Trade Market
Knowing that the Canucks are going to need upgrades in several areas, it was no surprise that TSN’s Jeff Patterson reported on TSN Radio Vancouver that his recent discussions with Canucks general manager Jim Benning led him to believe that Benning would be an active trader prior to the NHL Entry Draft later this month. Patterson added that Benning was aware that his job might be on the line if the team doesn’t take further positive steps towards the playoffs next season.
One area the team must focus on during this off-season is improving the team’s
Nick Kypreos suggested, when speaking about a possible Patrick Marleau trade to the Los Angeles Kings, that the Kings are considering buying out Dion Phaneuf’s contract, which would put him on the free agent market already earning $4 million a season from a buy-out. Should that occur, Phaneuf might be willing to sign with a team at a reasonable price. He’s 34 years old, but he’s 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds and has been a captain before. Size, experience, and leadership might count for something.
All things considered, because there are so few talented defensemen on the free-agent market, the Canucks’ best bet might be to trade for a defenseman.
Item Two: Little Progress Signing Alex Edler
Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal reported that, with only a couple of weeks left in the UFA interview process, the Canucks have made little progress with Edler. If he doesn’t sign with the team, the long-serving defenseman would become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The number of years on the contract seems to be the issue of contention between the two parties.
As I wrote in a post on June 1, the 33-year-old Edler has played 13 seasons with the team and last season set several franchise records. He leads all Canucks defensemen in games played with 841. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader for defensemen in goals with 94, second in assists with 274, and first in points with 368. I also believe he would make a good mentor for Quinn Hughes, just as Matthias Ohlund was for him when he first began his career with the team.
It’s likely Edler will sign with the Canucks because he and his young family live full-time in the Vancouver area, he’s actively committed to the community, and he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause last season. These reasons make me almost certain he’ll be back.
Item Three: Will There Be a Trade Between the Oilers and the Canucks?
Jason Gregor, when he was a guest on TSN Radio Vancouver, reported that “I heard from a really good source that Jim Benning and his staff did sit down and discuss a Loui Eriksson for Milan Lucic trade.” Gregor said he understands why both teams might be looking at such a trade: It’s a “Here’s our bad guy for your guy who’s underachieved” kind of deal.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie responded to the rumor last week. He noted: “When I first heard the Lucic for Eriksson talk, I initially thought “oh that’s creative, fans and media thinking about how to get rid of a problem.” Like a fantasy thing you sometimes talk about. But do I think it’s within the realm of possibility?”
Because Lucic is from Vancouver and has said publicly that he’s thought about playing in his hometown, he’s certain to waive his no-trade clause so he could be traded to the Canucks.
Item Four: Is Nikolay Goldobin Sticking Around?
Enigmatic and talented Nikolay Goldobin had a difficult 2018-19 season, but it looks as if he might be sticking around for another season. There were early reports that he would head back to Russia to restart his career in the KHL, but it seems as if Goldobin might want to stay in Vancouver.
During an end-of-the-season media conference, Goldobin shared head coach Green’s honesty about what he needed to work on over the summer if he wanted to become a crucial part of the Canucks’ line up next season. Goldobin drives fans crazy because, although his talent is obvious and he could be the best Canucks player on the ice, his intensity and work ethic are sometimes suspect.
Because he’s currently an RFA, Goldobin needs a new contract before next season. But, there’s a good chance the Canucks will sign the Russian winger soon. Contract time is the one time of the year management is happy that a player didn’t play well.
Item Five: Development and Prospect Camps
The Canucks have announced the schedule for both their 2019 Development Camp (from June 25-27 at UBC’s Father Bauer Arena) and their Prospect Training Camp (from Sep. 7-10 at Rogers Arena). The Development Camp roster will be made up of players the team selects from its recent draftees, free agent prospects, and undrafted free agents from colleges, junior, and European teams. It’s free for fans to attend.
The Prospect Training Camp in September will include about 25 Canucks prospects. Details about this camp will be provided at a later date.