Canucks’ Rumors & News: Pearson, Hughes, Schenn, Eriksson

The Vancouver Canucks came roaring back to win the team’s last home game of the season against the playoff-bound San Jose Sharks on Tuesday evening to even their season’s record at 35-35-10 with two games left. Such wins don’t help much as far as draft-day placement goes, but it does give the team momentum going into next season – and, that’s not such a bad thing. The Canuck players obviously wanted to win, and they played like it.

With the season winding down and the Canucks out of the playoffs, I wanted to review some of the news around the team that has emerged during the past week.

Item One: Tanner Pearson Is Playing Like He Belongs

In Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Sharks, Tanner Pearson scored two goals on seven shots and was a plus-two. Pearson has scored six goals in his last 10 games, and has eight points in 17 games since joining the Canucks this season. For someone who has struggled so much this season when he played with both the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, he has obviously found his mojo in March and April. It looks as if he was a great addition by the Canucks at the trade deadline. Obviously, Jim Benning guessed right when he sent defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Penguins for the then-slumping Pearson.

Related: Related: 5 Canucks Building Blocks for the Future

Pearson has recently been playing on a line with Bo Horvat and Loui Eriksson and has clearly rebounded from his earlier season’s struggles. He looks like he’s returned to the form that made him a 40-point player in 2016-17 and 2017-18. At 26 years old, he might have lots left.

Item Two: Canucks Ready to Re-Sign Luke Schenn

Pearson is not the only trade-deadline acquisition who seems to have been reborn in Vancouver. When Benning traded defenseman Michael Del Zotto to the Anaheim Ducks for Luke Schenn and a 2020 seventh-round draft pick on Jan. 17, it was mostly to clear roster space so Elias Pettersson could return from his knee injury. Schenn quietly reported to the Utica Comets, and people sort of lost track of the once highly-touted defensive prospect. Not anymore.

Ashton Sautner, Sam Steel, Jacob Markstrom, Luke Schenn
The Vancouver Canucks’ Luke Schenn (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Schenn, drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008, never lived up to his potential. In fact, he’s been traded around the NHL and has struggled with a number of different teams. However, given how defensemen sometimes mature slowly, it’s not without precedent that Schenn might have found his game at 29 years of age. Canucks general manager Benning called Schenn a “pleasant surprise” and noted that the Canucks would be interested in signing the pending unrestricted free agent this off-season.

Benning noted that “We’ve been real happy with him and he’s done everything we’ve asked.” Schenn has recently been paired with Canucks’ rookie prospect, defenseman Quinn Hughes, who has credited the veteran Schenn for helping him learn to play in the NHL, especially with on-ice positioning. Benning acknowledged as much, calling Schenn an excellent leader to younger guys on the team.

Item Three: Canucks Ready to Dump Loui Eriksson

In no news to anyone, the Canucks would like to dump Eriksson’s salary. But how? In the Nucks Misconduct, Canucks’ writer Trevor Beggs suggests that Eriksson might be a good fit in either Carolina or in Colorado. Although Eriksson doesn’t bring much offense to the ice any longer, he’s good on the penalty kill and he could provide secondary offense with a team that shoots lots and crashes the net – something both the Hurricanes and the Avalanche do regularly.

Related – Canucks News & Rumors: Benning, Biega, Pettersson & Bure

Although the trade would basically be a salary dump, Beggs doesn’t see it as impossible that Eriksson might be traded. Eriksson has a no-move clause; but, given his lack of production, even he might see the grass as greener somewhere else. At $6 million, he’s an expensive cap hit.

Item Four: Is Quinn Hughes Destined for Toronto?

In a tongue-in-cheek article, Leafs Nation reporter Hockeyfan suggested that, although it’s still probably a few years away, Hughes will “soon” end up in a Maple Leafs uniform. Hughes, who only joined the team about a week ago, has made Canucks fans dream big with his highly-awaited and highly-successful debut. He looks to be a really strong, NHL-ready young defenseman. With rookie Pettersson, he has given Canuck fans even more hope for the future.

Quinn Hughes Canucks
Quintin Hughes poses for a photo with team representatives after being selected as the number seven overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The article points out that, although Hughes was born in Florida and played for Team USA at the World Junior Championships, when father Jim Hughes was the head of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he moved his family to Toronto. As a result, the Hughes’ family calls the home of the Maple Leafs their home as well.

In fact, Hughes knows a number of current Maple Leaf players, including William Nylander and Connor Brown, very well. And, for the Hughes’ family it “was all Leafs, all the time.”

Related: Canucks’ Hughes Has Successful Debut

As I noted, the article is only half joking. However, it teases that Hughes is rumoured as ready to sign a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs as early as possible. The sources of this rumour, of course, are anonymous. In other words, it’s probably nothing for Canucks fans to worry about in the near future. Perhaps, by that time, the team will have won its first ever Stanley Cup.

What’s Next?

The Canucks have finished their home schedule and have two games left on a Midwestern USA road trip. They play the Nashville Predators on Apr. 4 and the St. Louis Blues on Apr. 6. After that, the team has serious questions to address with players on its current roster.

As the season ends for the Canucks, all eyes and hopes will be focused on the 57th NHL Entry Draft held on June 21–22, 2019, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Let’s hope the team has some home-ice advantage.