The 2021 season has come to a merciful end for the Canucks. This blog post will serve as a recap to the season and a look ahead to the off-season and some of the important decisions that will need to be addressed.
Hopes were high after the Canucks surprised everyone and narrowly missed the Western Conference finals. The Canucks narrowly missed eliminating the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2nd round of the playoffs. While the Canucks lost every unrestricted free agent, there was hope that Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat could continue to grow and lead the team to further success. Thatcher Demko was now the starting goalie. Quinn Hughes was in his second full season. Alas, the Canucks finished dead last in the North division and there were a lot of questions about GM Jim Benning’s job security. The coaching staff was working on expiring contracts. Braden Holtby was not able to be the Vezina winning goalie he was a few years ago. The team struggled with turnovers and the goalies weren’t making the extra save. Offensively, the Canucks could not outscore their defensive mistsakes. Here’s a review of the 2020-21 season.
Free Agency: Canucks pending free agents 2020 – Restricted Free Agents
The Canucks had four pending restricted free agents (five if you count Troy Stecher who became an unrestricted free agent when the Canucks didn’t qualify him): Tyler Motte, Adam Gaudette, Zack MacEwen and Jake Virtanen. I’ll do a quick recap on the four latter players and their seasons. I’ll include Stecher with the unrestricted free agents.
- Jake Virtanen – Drafted 6th overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft, Virtanen has been a lightning rod for controversy. He signed a 2-year deal with the Canucks in the off-season. On the ice, it was more of the same for the homegrown winger. In 38 games this season, Virtenen had 5 assists, was -4, had 41 penlaty minutes he was 3rd on the team in hits with 83, he blocked 12 shots and won 69% of the 13 draws he took. Off the ice, he was in trouble again. He was placed on leave May 1st after an alleged sex assault from training camp 2017 came to light. There is currently a civil lawsuit playing out in court. It’s highly likely that Virtanen may have placed his last game in a Canucks uniform. Expect the team to terminate his contract or attempt to trade him.
- Tyler Motte – Motte also signed a 2-year deal in the off-season. Motte’s impact has always been to be an energy guy and help kill penalties. His rugged style makes him more prone to injury, however. He missed 32 games to injury this season, including concussion-like symptoms from his bout with COVID-19. When he was healthy, he contributed. Motte scored 9 points (6G 3A), had an even +/- rating, blocked 24 shots, led the team with 100 hits in 24 games.
- Zack MacEwen – An undrafted free agent signing in 2017, MacEwen was also given a 2-year deal. He split time as a healthy scratch and a bottom 6 forward. In 32 games, MacEwen had 2 points (1G 1A), was -2, took 44 minutes in penalties, had a 1-1 ratio in giveaways/takeaways, had 64 hits and blocked 9 shots. He’ll likely have a similar role next year.
- Adam Gaudette – In a bit of a surprise move, Adam Gaudette was dealt at the trade deadline to the Blackhawks in exchange for Matthew Highmore, who was a regular in the Canucks lineup down the stretch. Gaudette reportedly caused the COVID-outbreak by going to a restaurant that had an outbreak of COVID-19. Rumors also say that Gaudette wasn’t real popular in the room. It was telling that Bo Horvat unfollowed Gaudette on social media. Gaudette had 7 points (4G 3A), was -13, blocked 20 shots and had 12 hits over 33 games for the Canucks. He added a further 4 points (1G 3A) and -2 rating over 7 games in Chicago. His trade opens the door for prospects like MacEwen and Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovic to crack the lineup next season.
Free Agency: Canucks pending free agents 2020 – Unrestricted Free Agents
The Canucks had five pending unrestricted free agents. As noted above, Troy Stetcher became the seventh UFA when the Canucks did not qualify him. The seven UFA’s were Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev, Jacob Markstrom, Louis Domingue, Josh Leivo, Oscar Fantenberg and Stetcher All seven players opted to sign elsewhere. I will also recap those players and their seasons and the impacts their loss had on the Canucks lineup, as well as how they did against the Canucks (only Stetcher and Fantenberg did not face the Canucks in 2021).
- Chris Tanev – Signed as an undrafted free agent, Cgris Tanev established himself as a reliable shot-blocking defenseman that was a goalie’s best friend. Over a decade as a Canuck, Tanev blocked 1050 shots. Unfortunately, the shot blocking led to numerous injuries involving broken bones. He never played an entire season, until this season when he played all 56 games. In 514 career games as a Canuck, he scored 118 points (22G 96A), was a career +43 and had 155 hits. He signed a huge 4 year 4.5million/year contract with Calgary in the offseason. This season, he scored 12 points (2G 10A), was +15, blocked 107 shots and threw 33 hits. His shot blocking would have led the Canucks. Against the Canucks, Tanev had a pair of assists and was +4
- Jacob Markstrom – Acquired March 4, 2014 in a trade with the Panthers, along with Shawn Matthias for Roberto Luongo and prospect Steven Anthony. Markstrom blossomed into an elite NHL starter under the tutlage and guidance of goalie coach guru Ian Clark. Over 7 seasons as a Canuck, Markstrom played 229 games (218 of them starts). He had a career record of 99-93-27 and had a 2.27GAA and .913save%. Like Tanev, Markstrom opted to sign a long-term deal with Calgary. Against the Canucks, he was 7-2 in 9 games, including a shutout with a 2.38GAA and .925save%. Markstrom was more affected by the change in goalie coaches than Braden Holtby. He played well enough for Calgary to trade their backup goalie David Rittich to Toronto at the trade deadline.
- Tyler Toffoli – Here’s a non-signing that really backfired on the Canucks. Acquired at last year’s trade deadline, Toffoli has 10 points (6G 4A) and was +3. In the playoffs, Toffoli had 4 points (2G 2A) over 7 games. He expressed desire to return to the Canuecks, but was never offered a contract. Against the Canucks this season, Toffoli had 13 points (8G 5A) and was +10 over 8 games. His role on the Canucks was pretty much filled by rookie Nils Hoglander, who had 27 points (13G 14A) over 56 games and was -4. Toffoli finished with 44 points (31 points vs. teams other than the Canucks). Hoglander is probably a better option going forward given he is significantly younger and will only get better. Toffoli is much more expensive and doesn’t have much more room to grow as a player, and will likely start declining soon.
- Josh Leivo – Acquired December 3, 2018 from Toronto in exchange for Michael Carcone, Leivo basically spent the equivalent of a season over 2 seasons in the mix as a winger on the 2nd/3rd line. 2020 ended badly for Leivo, who fractured his kneecap December 21 after being driven from behind into the boards. He still wasn’t ready to play in August when the Canucks were eliminated by Vegas. Over 85 games with the Canucks, Leivo had 37 points (17G 20A), was + 4, blocked 26 shots, and threw 39 hits. Leivo signed with Calgary in the off-season. Last season, Leivo had 9 points (6G 3A) over 38 games and was -4. Against the Canucks, Leivo had 3 points (1G 2A) over 6 games. Virtanen was the one who benefited most from Leivo’s departure. Unfortunately, Virtanen did not take advantage and is now likely not going to be a Canuck much longer with the ongoing civil suit and alleged sex assault from 2017. Leivo is likely to get a longer term deal this off-season after proving he’s healthy after the injury
- Louis Domingue – Acquired in a trade with the NJ Devils February 24, 2020 after Jacob Markstrom was injured and the Canucks not wanting Michael Dipietro to be promoted just yet, Louis Domingue served as the Canucks 3rd goalie for the duration of the season and backed up Demko until the season stopped and for the final 2 games of the series vs. Vegas. He never got into a game. Domingue spent the downtime in the bubble baking goodies for his teammate. Domingue is a talented baker if the hockey thing doesn’t pan out. Markstrom’s play prompted the Flames to trade backup David Rittich to Toronto, who was missing Frederik Anderson and wanted a better backup for Jack Campbell. Domingue then became the backup goalie for Markstrom.. His lone game in 2020 was the second-last game of the season vs. the Canucks. He gave up 3 goals on 23 shots for a .870 save% and 3.12GAA. Domingue’s status for next season will probably depend on whether the Flames acquire a backup goalie via trade or free agency. Dipietro will likely start in Abbotsford with Holtby signed through next season, unless Holtby is snapped up by Seattle. Holtby could be moved at next year’s trade deadline to avoid losing him for nothing next off-season.
- Oscar Fantenberg – Signed to a 1-year deal for 2019-2020, Oscar Fantenberg was a 7th defenseman and split the 2019-20 season between being a healthy scratch and playing on the bottom pairing. In 36 games, Fantenberg got 6 points (1G 5A), was -10, blocked 62 shots, threw 67 hits. Fantenberg signed a 1-year deal with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL. In 37 games this season, Fantenberg had 7 assists in the regular season and added 2 assists in 15 playoff games.
- Troy Stecher – Signed to a 2-year ELC as an undrafted free agent in 2016, Troy Stecher was a regular in the Canucks lineup the next 4 seasons, generally playing in the top 4 or bottom pairing. In 284 games as a Canuck, Stecher had 75 points (11G 64A), was -4, blocked 307 shots, and threw 322 hits. He also had 3 points (2G 1A), was +9, blocked 23shots, and threw 24 hits in 17 playoff games last season. He signed a 2-year deal with Detroit last season. As there was only divisional play last season, he did not play the Canucks in 2021. This season, Stecher had 11 points (3G 8A), was -13, block 46 shots and threw 33 hits in 44 games for the Red Wings. His departuture opned the door for Olli Juolevi and Jack Rathbone to make their NHL debuts (for Juolevi it was just a regular season debut as he played 2 games in the playoffs last August). Based on his stats this year, Stecher likely wouldn’t have moved the needle for the Canucks much this season.
Free Agency: Canucks acquisitions 2020
- Braden Holtby – As soon as Markstrom signed with Calgary, the Canucks quickly pivoted and inked former Stanley Cup Champ Braden Holtby to a 2-year deal. It was hoped that the former Vezina and Jennings trophy winner could turn back the clock and be a solid back-up for new starting goalie Thatcher Demko. After winning his debut, Holtby’s season was mostly a disappointment. It was clear that Holtby needed some solid practice time working with goalie guru Ian Clark. Unfortunately, the schedule and travel limited the time for this to occur. When the Canucks went on their scheduled 6-day break, Holtby wasn’t expected to get more than a handful more games with a lighter schedule. Then COVID-19 hit the team, wiping out games for two weeks and Demko was affected more than Holtby. In the end, a more compact schedule with travel that mimicked what the team endured in the first part of the season occurred and Holtby ended the season splitting the net with Demko. Holtby was 7-11-3 with a .889 save% and 3.67GAA in 21 games. He showed flashes of his former self, but also showed he may be on the decline. It’s likely he’ll start the year backing up Demko in 2021-22, unless Seattle snaps him up in the expansion draft, but that seems unlikely with better goalies likely to be available.
- Nate Schmidt – Acquired in an October 2020 trade with Vegas for a 3rd round pick in the 2022 NHL entry draft, Nate Schmidt was essentially a replacement for Chris Tanev. Schmidt partnered with veteran Alex Edler on the top line, he killed penalties and was on the 2nd PP unit. In 54 points, Schmidt had 15 points (5G 10A), was -7, blocked 72 shots, and threw 15 hits. Schmidt has 4 years left on his deal. He’ll play a similar role next season
- Travis Hamonic – a training camp invitee, Travis Hamonic made the team and became the replacement for Troy Stecher. He was paired with Quinn Hughes much of the season. It was a bit of a rough season for Hamonic, who missed a month after a suspected separated shoulder in the team’s 6th game. He also got COVID-19 for the second time during the team outbreak in March. In 38 games, Hamonic had 10 points (3G 7A), was -3, blocked 81 shots and threw 48 hits. He’s an unrestricted free agent and the Canucks may opt to see what’s out there on the open market or perhaps use Olli Joulevi or Jack Rathbone in a bigger role.
- Jayce Hawryluk – Signed to a one-year deal in the off-season, Jayce Hawryluk’s debut was delayed by 6 weeks after he was injured during the last scrimmage of training camp. He played on the 4th line once he returned. In 30 games, Hawryluk scored 5 points (2G 3A), was -7, blocked 11 shots and threw 43 hits. It’s unlikely he’ll return
Like most teams, the Canucks were affected by COVID-19. Right before training camp, Jordie Benn was presumed positive from COVID-19 (two positive tests out of three). Because JT Miller was considered a close contact, he had to quarantinc and prove a bunch of negative tests. Miller returned first and did not look like himself on the ice at all. For a few weeks, Miller wasn’t able to keep up with the play and was making bad decisions with the puck. Benn didn’t appear as affected when he returned. Then the COVID outbreak involving the Brazilian variant occurred. It started in the practice before the team returned to play after the scheduled six-day break. Adam Gaudette was pulled from practice after a positive test. The next day, Hamonic tested positive for the second time and over the next few days, 18 players plus a few on the taxi squad and coaching/training staff had tested positive. The whole team was presumed positive. Gaudette, who was traded shortly after, is believed to be patient 0.
Without COVID-19, the Canucks schedule was ridiculous. They played four straight weeks of 4 games in 6 nights. This included plenty of travel, including an eastern swing. The scarcity of off-days meant that when they did get a day off, more often than not they did not practice, instead using the off-days to rest/recover. The schedule was supposed to be more friendly with fewer games left and more days between game. That went out the window when the COVID outbreak hit and wiped out two weeks of games. In the end, the Canucks schedule pretty much ended the wayit began with 3 games in four nights and plenty of back-to-backs. In fact, they played 4 games in 5 nights to end the season with travel during the back-to-backs. You’d think the NHL would have at least not made the weary Canucks travel after playing one night and play the next game. The NHL was adamant that everyone play 56 games for fairness, even though the Flames and Canucks both missed the playoffs. Here’s hoping Canucks management can have a bit more influence on the schedule next season
Every season teams have to manage without players who miss games. For the Canucks, the biggest loss was Elias Pettersson, who hyperextended his wrist against Winnipeg. Pettersson missed the remainder of the season. Michael Ferland is probably done with hockey. He sustained yet another concussion last August and never even came to Vancouver for training camp. Players like Tyler Motte will miss time just because of their style of play. Motte missed 32 games with ankle, upper body and COVID-related symptoms that presented like a concussion. The Canucks even had bad luck with the off-season acquisitions. Jayce Hawryluk didn’t make his debut until February 25th after being injured in a collission in the final scrimmage of training camp. Travis Hamonic separated a shoulder six games into his season and missed a month. Brandon Sutter, who’s injury prone tweaked a shoulder and missed the last three weeks. Antoine Roussel sprained his knee and missed the last month. The Canucks were right up against the cap and couldn’t optimize the lineup the way they might have wanted to. Also, the quarantine rules in place meant any recall wouldn;t be available for 1-2 weeks most of the season (that change around the trade deadline). It’s imperative the Canucks add more depth players to the lineup to fill in when necessary. The team also needs to shed contracts through buyouts or trades. The teams that compete can weather the injuries through NHL-ready prospects and players they acquire.
Three Canucks who impressed:
- Thatcher Demko – The Canucks new starting goalie, like Braden Holtby had a rough start to the season, not helped by a shodddy defense that proved prone to turning the puck over. A session or two with goalie coach guru Ian Clark reinforced the lessons that morphed him into an elite starting goalie. He finished the season 16-18-1 with a 2.95 GAA and .915save% and a shutout. That’s remarkable consuidering the Canucks were giving up tons of grade-A scoring chances and were being outshot on a regular basis. Demko had a rougher time with COVID and it showed his first couple of starts back with him not looking well after the game.
- Nils Hoglander – Drafted 40th overall (2nd round) of the 2019 NHL entry draft, Nils Hoglander made his long-awaited NHL debut. After ripping up the Swedish Elite League, fans were salivating at the thought of him playing alongside Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson or on the second line with fellow countryman Elias Pettersson. Unfortunately, Pettersson missed half the year. Hoglander had 27 points (13G 14A) and was -4. He played all 56 games. He’ll grow and mature over the next few seasons and be a force to be reckoned with
- Brock Boeser – After a few injury riddled seasons, Brock Boeser had arguably his best season in a Canucks uniform. Had this been a full 82 game season, Boeser would have shattered his career highs in points, goals and assists. Boeser played every game for the first time in his career, led the team in scoring and goals and was 3rd on the team in assists (23). Now Boeser needs to recharge and have a solid summer of training and replicate what he did this season.
Three Canucks who disappointed:
- Adam Gaudette – Drafted by the Canucks in the 5th round (149th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry draft, the former Hobey Baker winner was slotted in on the 3rd line alongside Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen (when he was in the lineup). Initially Gaudette was supposed to be a center, but he’s been inconsistent in the faceoff dot. He was traded at the deadline to Chicago for Matthew Highmore. He was the first on the team to be diagnosed with COVID-19 when the virus raged through the team end of March/beginning of April. Rumor has it he went to an event or restaurant that wound up with an outbreak of COVID-19. Also, evidently, he wasn’t real popular in the locker room. On the ice, Gaudette wasn’t an upgrade over some of the players that were on the taxi squad or press box asa healthy scratch. Gaudette scored 7 points (4G 3A) and was -13 in 33 games for the Canucks this season.
- Jake Virtanen – Drafted 6th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry draft, Jake Virtanen has been a lightning rod for controversy almost right from the get-go. Perhaps it’s a product of playing in his home province and being too comfortable. On the ice, he’s shown flashes of potential, but more often than not he’s been invincible on the ice. Virtanen’s shown up at multiple training camps out of shape. The final straw for him might have occured a month ago when it came out on social media of an alleged sex assault that occurred in his hotel room training camp 2017. The case is currently in the courts under a civil suit. Depending on the outcome, it could be grounds for contract termination. It’s also possible the team buys him out of the final year of the contract. Virtanen had 5 points (all goals), was -4, threw 83 hits and blocked 12 shots. If Virtanen has played his final game as a Canuck, he’ll have scored an even 100 career regular season points (55G 45A), be -29, and have thrown 640 hits.
- JT Miller – This will definitely be a season JT Miller will want to forget. The 28-year-old center missed the first three games after he was a close contact to Jordie Benn, who was presumed positive. When he did return, you could tell he wasn’t right physically, having trouble keeping up with the play and making poor decisions with the puck. Miller can let his emotions show on the ice, which is not productive and could lead to a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct if he’s not careful. Miller was 2nd on the team in points (46), 3rd in goals (15) and 2nd in assists (31), was -7 and was the 3rd most consistent of the regular centers with a solid 53% success rate in the faceoff circle.
Eight Canucks made their NHL debut this season: Hoglander (see above), Olli Juolevi (regular season debut. he played 1 game in August during the playoffs), Jack Rathbone, Jalen Chatfield, Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovic, Will Lockwood and Marc Michaelis. Most of the players played just a handful of games and were healthy scratches for stretches to get more teaching watching from the press box. Juolevi played 23 ames, had 3 points (1G 2A), was -1, blocked 30 shots and threw 23 hits. He also had 9 giveaways and 2 takaways. Rathbone also had 3 points (1G 2A), was +1, blocked 9 shots, threw 8 hits, had 6 giveaways and 2 takeaways in 8 games. Chatfield had 1 assist, was -11, threw 11 hits and blocked 10 shots in 15 games. Gadjovic played only one game and just 4:55 in that game due to 17 penalty minutes for instigating a fight. He was -1 and threw a hit. Lind was -4, blocked 3 shots and threw 8 hits in 7 games. Lockwood, who had a jersey malfunction during warm-ups when the wrong last name was on his jersey in his debut, was -2, blocked a shot and threw 6 hits over 2 games. Michaelis was -5, blocked 10 shots, threw 12 hits and had a 60% success rate in the faceoff circle over 15 games.
There were a few milestones reached by players this season. Brock Boeser scored his 200th career point, Bo Horvat played his 500th career game and Tyler Myers played his 350th career game and scored his 150th career point. One significant milestone that was not reached was Alex Edler is still a goal shy of 100 career goals. Ironically, he took 99 shots on goal. It looked like he might have achieved the milestone in his second-to-last game of the season, but Boeser tipped it in.. The Canucks tried to help Edler reach the milestone by putting him on the 1st PP unit and looking for him during the waning games of the season, but alas to no avail
For the last part of this season review, I will take a brief look into a crucial off-season for the Canucks
The Coaching staff
The first big move for Jim Benning was to extend Travis Green to a 2-year deal Friday. Green was on an expiring contract and there was question of his return, especially with the uncertainty of Benning’s future. Green has coached the Canucks the last 4 seasons and has a record of 125-131-31 and the Canucks have missed the playoffs 3 times with him behind the bench. These last 2 seasons have been especially trying with COVID-19 forcing shortened seasons and Green needing to help the players cope with no real chance for socializaing during down time. He’s been pretty consistent with the line matches and yes one can definitely question some of the lineup decisions at times. There’s also criticism that he doesn’t give enough ice time to or play younger players enough. Overall, he’s done a decent job with the players he has to work with and the salary cap constraints that affect who he can play. Except for this season, the Canucks were improving in every season.
The Canucks also need to lock up the assistant coaches to new contracts. Both Holtby and Demko expressed strong desire for the Canucks to bring Ian Clark back. The question is if the Canucks will be willing to match other teams’ offers. Clark will be highly sought after, especially seeing how Demko and Holtby and Michael Dipietro thrived under his guidance and Jacob Markstrom took a step back this year. Lots of fans would like to see the team walk away from Newell Brown, who was responsible for special teams. The Canucks were 25th in the NHL with a 17.4% success rate. The biggest flaw in the PP is being too predictable and dropping the puck back after a clear. Quite frankly, I’m surprised more teams didn’t try and be aggressive knowing the Canucks would likely drop pass near their own blue line. There’s too much talent on the team for the Canucks not to have more success with the man advantage. The PK was a little better with a 79.8% success rate, good for 17th in the league. The Canucks could also consider not renewing Nolan Baumgartner’s contract. Baumgartner was responsible for the defensemen and that was a major area of weakness. The Canucks gave up 187 goals this season and many of those goals were the results of turnovers and missed assignments. The Canucks are reportedly looking at bringing the Sedins back in some capacity. I could see Henrik being asked to work with the centers on faceoffs because this stat was down. Faceoffs are such an underrated stat. Win the draw and you have control of the puck, lose the draw and you have to try and get it back.
One thing Jim Benning might do to free up some salary space is buy out a contract that is expiring. Likely candidates for buyout would be Loui Eriksson, who played 7 games, had an assist, was -3, blocked a shot, threw a hit and won a faceoff and has one year left on his deal or Jake Virtanen (legal issues might be a hamper)
Pending Free Agents: Unrestricted Free Agents
- Sven Baertschi – Acquired by the Canucks from the Flames for a 2nd round pick March 2, 2015, Baertschi was a top 6 forward for the Canucks and on the 2nd PP unit for the better part of 5 seasons. Unfortunately, concussion issues derailed his 2018-19 season and he only played 26 games. The following 2 seasons he missed the cut and was eventually assigned to the Utica Comets. He did play 6 games in 2019-20 when the Canucks ran into a rash of injuries. Baertschi will definitely not be returning to the Canucks. Not real sure any team would take a chance on him, given he was put on waivers several times and not one team claimed him. In 225 games for the Canucks, he has 110 points (58G 52A), is -28, he blocked 109 shots and threw 128 hits. I like Baertschi and hope he does find a new NHL home.
- Alex Edler – Drafted in the 3rd round (91st overall of the 2004 NHL Entry draft), Alex Eder is the current longest serving Canuck. The 35-year-old veteran is past his prime, but still good enough to be a top-4 defenseman. As mentioned above, Edler missed the milestone of 100 goals this season. He’s had an injury-riddled career due to his shot blocking ability. The Canucks will certainly target him for a new contract. Who knows, he may decide to join Marky, Tanev, Leivo and Domingue in Calgary. In 925 career games, Edler has 409 points (99G 310A), is -36, has blocked 1751 shots and thrown 1414 hits.
- Brandon Sutter – Acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins July 28, 2015, along with a conditional 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL draft for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a 2nd round pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft, Brandon Sutter has been one of the Canucks more consistent centers and penalty killers. Sutter has had several injuries during his time as a Canuck, including 2 separate core muscle surgeries. He’s also declining with injuries and age catching up to him. In 275 games as a Canuck, Sutter has 104 points (54G 50A), is -29, has block 151 shots and thrown 214 hits. It doesn’t sound like the negotiation will be a difficult one. Sutter expressed his desire to come back and said he doesn’t like change too much.
- Travis Hamonic – A training camp invitee and then inked to a 1-year deal, it was a frustrating year for the rugged veteran defenseman. From getting COVID-19 for the second time to getting hurt just 6 games into the season and missing a month, Hamonic probably wants a reset on 2021. He had 10 points (3G 7A), was -3, blocked 81 shots and threw 48 hits. He gave up the puck twice as much as he forced a turnover. The Canucks will try and re-sign him
- Jimmy Vesey – Claimed off waivers in March, Jimmy Vesey didn’t really stand out from the pack. He had 3 assists, was -10, blocked 9 shots and threw 15 hits over 20 games. He may get a one-year offer, but he’ll be competing with prospects like Lind, Gadjovic and Lockwood for a roster spot. There may only be a spot or two up for grabs
- Travis Boyd – Claimed off waivers in March, Travis Boyd had a pair of goals, was -6, blocked 6 shots and threw 9 hits in 19 games. I don’t see him returning
- Tyler Graovac – A free agent signing in 2019, Tyler Graovac has mostly been a healthy scratch as a Canuck. In 22 games as a Canuck, he has 6 points (5G 1A), is -3, has blocked 5 shots and thrown 15 hits. This is another player who could be let go
- Ashton Sautner – An undrafted free agent signing in 2017, Ashton Sautner has been mostly playing in Utica,. He missed the cut this season and is pretty far down the depth chart for defensemen. He may move on.
Pending Free Agents: Restricted Free Agents
The Canucks have several restricted free agents to sign to new contract, including Quinn Hughes, Pettersson and Olli Juolevi. All three should be getting raises. Other key free agents are Jayce Hawryluk, Marc Michaelis, Jalen Chatfield and Guillaume Brisebois. Fourth goalie Jake Kielly also needs a new deal. I would expect the Canucks to qualify everyone who is a pending restricted free agent.
Part of the reason the NHL is so keen to get through this season and the playoffs in a relatively quick manner is to start the off-season and get back to playing in October. The Seattle Kraken will be the 32nd team in the NHL next season. As such, there will be an expansion draft. The rules will be similar to 2017 when Vegas entered the league and teams could either protect 7F + 3D + 1G or 8 position players and a goalie. Expect the Canucks to go with the latter option.
Ok, that’s it for the review of the season and preview of the off-season. I’ll be taking a break now from blogging. I’ll post if something big happens, otherwise I’ll do a post in a month or so