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What we’re hearing about the Canucks’ draft plans and free agent priorities

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Things are busy around the Vancouver Canucks a week after the NHL draft in Nashville.

Freed from the salary cap constraints the club has been locked into for so long with the purchase of Oliver Ekman-Larson, the Canucks intend to be active. The promotion of the penalty elimination team staff and the position of the third line and the blue line is one of the club’s top priorities.

Vancouver also has the 11th overall pick in the NHL Draft, and there is a lot of intrigue about who might make it out of the top 10 and be available there. Among the most intriguing, polarizing, and enigmatic names is Russian winger Matvey Mychkov, arguably the second most talented player in the entire recruiting class.

Several industry sources familiar with the matter, who have not been identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, noted. the athlete This week, the Canucks were high on Mitchkoff. We feel the club wouldn’t be intimidated by the ambiguity surrounding Meshkov if the so-called ‘Russian factor’ and contractual uncertainty caused him to drop his offer to be available as the 11th overall pick.

While the scouting community generally expects the Canucks to prioritize a right-handed defenseman or linebacker in their XI overall selection, all things being equal, the club has shown interest in some high-profile Russian production Michkov, a wing scorer. , and Dmitry Symashev, a left-handed defenseman, whom they met during the pre-draft process.

The team has done a good job with Russian players since Jim Rutherford and Patrick Alvin took over — signing Ilya Mikheev and Andrei Kuzmenko (a former teammate of Meshkov) and trading for Vitaly Kravtsov — and with drafting looming, the Canucks haven’t. He seems nervous about dropping a streak in this particular group with the 11th overall pick.

What’s next for the Canucks defense?

The rebuilding of Vancouver’s Blue Line has been a major focus of Canucks hockey operations since Rutherford and Alvin’s arrival in the city. The club have spent significant assets on finding solutions at the back, taking the likes of Travis Dermott, Ethan Beer, Riley Stillman and Philip Herronk to withdrawals over the past 18 months.

The rebuilding project has had something of an injury-related slip this month, after a shoulder injury — which was actually more aggravating — the Bears suffered during last month’s World Series.

The Bear had shoulder surgery last week and is out for six months, and the Canucks are no longer guaranteed a qualifying offer for the suspended restricted free agent. The club also expects Dermott to be unbanned – who missed most of the 2022-23 season with multiple concussions.

If the Bear does not make a qualifying bid, he will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

There is no doubt that Bear’s injury complicated this particular negotiation, but there is a clear interest in finding a solution that keeps Bear in Vancouver. Bear’s agent Jason Davidson and Pro Player Management for Bear in Thunder Creek continue to talk, but to reach an agreement, the team and the player will now have to agree to one-year contract terms which will not be anywhere close to the contract value. $2.2 million Bear would be guaranteed if he qualified.

The uncertainty around Peer will have major implications for Vancouver’s off-season plans. While the club have been in contact with Noah Jolsen since the end of the season, they have doubled down on Kyle Burrows, with whom contract talks had been dormant until last week.

The club’s more pressing needs on the right side changed the club’s position opposite Tyler Myers. It’s very quiet around the veteran right-back, who is entering the final year of his contract. the athleteUnderstanding that Myers is far from a no-no, and though things can always change with one phone call, the team has no intention of trading him that way.

On the bright side of the ledger, the injury that prompted the club to shut down Philippe Heronice after just four first-team appearances doesn’t seem to be a cause for concern. He is expected to be a full participant on the first day of training camp for the Canucks.

on the trading block

The Ekman-Larsson purchase reduced pressure on the Canucks to take advantage of the trade market to find additional flexibility in the cap. As a result, he’s very quiet around some of the much-talked-about high-paying players.

While the noise around JT Miller peaked again around the trade deadline, it should be different over the next couple of weeks. After purchasing Ekman-Larsson and aggressively training their eyes to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs next season, the Canucks are not attempting to trade Miller until new overtime begins on July 1. Once Miller’s new deal goes through, it will have a full no-move clause, significantly reducing the club’s influence in future trade negotiations.

As always, the “just a phone call and it can change” rule applies when predicting the club’s position here, but at the time of writing, the Canucks were not actively looking for a second-place line transfer. .

Turmoil has also eased significantly around Brock Boeser, who missed most of last season, after the club gave his agent, Ben Hankinson of Octagon Hockey, permission to try to facilitate a trade. However, nothing came of the effort and the club have high hopes that Boeser can pick up his pace and see his two-way results improve exponentially with a solid off-season.

That leaves Conor Garland, the scoring dynamo, still very much at guard. The commercial market for minor wingers is tough, but Garland is the player the Canucks are constantly trying to move.

There is no bigger deal facing the Canucks this season than a potential third contract for Elias Pettersson, who becomes eligible to sign a contract extension on July 1.

We feel there’s no rush on either side, and the expansion that was proactively done and announced on July 1st is very unlikely.

Canucks and Pettersson representatives with CAA will discuss this in more detail this summer, but the steady hat dynamics will make it difficult to assess the market for the 24-year-old 40-goal, 100-point quarterback who’s poised to play. It should look like signing a long-term contract.

Unrestricted free agent priorities

Starting next week, the NHL offseason will move at a rapid pace.

NHL Draft is Wednesday The deadline for eligible submissions is Friday By the end of the week a new league year will begin The unrestricted free agent market will open and fit It will be on us.

Vancouver’s priorities are not surprising. They are looking for the penalty killing acumen in the market, a third line center and defenseman with some sting to complement their shots at Hronek and Quinn Hughes.

If Carson Sochi enters the market, he would be a player the club would be interested in bidding for. Susie stands 6ft 5in, has a cannon shot and isn’t shy about throwing a dead body around. While Suzy mostly saved two minutes for the Seattle Kraken game last season, it’s likely a packed stadium for teams convinced he can play a bigger role on the roster and help win games.

Susi earned a salary of $3.5 million last season and should be getting a lot of attention on the open market.

Besides Soucy, there are two familiar faces available on defense that are worth keeping an eye on if they ever hit the market.

If he doesn’t reach an agreement with the Maple Leafs by July 1, the Canucks will be among a variety of teams interested in Luke Schenn, unsurprisingly.

Schenn’s potential contract should be priced from the Canucks’ perspective, which could make these negotiations interesting. Shane will be looking for a big raise given he’s played the past four seasons on less than $1 million in salary contract, and could agree to triple his salary given his stellar performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. defensive this summer.

Troy Stecher, a native of Richmond, British Columbia, is another player the Canucks might be interested in if he comes to the market on July 1st. It should be noted that when Stecher initially left the Canucks organization in the fall of 2020, it was Rutherford’s Pittsburgh Penguins who showed genuine interest in the Detroit Red Wings. For what it’s worth, the Canucks also inquired about Stecher on July 1 of last summer. This is a position that the team may review depending on market developments.

At first, there was a lot of fuss about the Canucks’ pursuit of Vegas Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev, who stood out for his losing streak and offensive touch in the Stanley Cup playoffs, should he enter the market. There may be interest so far, but there’s also a sense that Barbashev’s playoff performance could make for a showing for the Canucks, especially since Barbashev is more of a winger than a true center.

Meanwhile, East Vancouver and Vancouver Giants legend Milan Lucic is a player the Canucks have discussed pursuing internally, but the team’s interest will depend on whether or not they feel he’s still an everyday player. When you bring in NHL veterans for fourth line or depth roles, it can be difficult to get them out. It’s a question the Canucks need to evaluate internally to gauge their interest in adding Lucic in a lower class role.

(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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