The Vancouver Canucks have been going gangbusters in the 2021 offseason, and it has lead to them gaining some real talent while saying goodbye to some players. This is all in an attempt to become a stronger team and hopes to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or at least not finish last in their division.
By far the largest acquisition was defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the former captain of the Arizona Coyotes. The player is an elite veteran who is able to play at both ends of the ice, and will likely take a top-line spot with his new team. Due to his leadership skill and ability to motivate his teammates the player will likely claim an alternate captaincy position with the team, as he will regardless be a leader among defensemen. The player has done an amazing job throughout his career in maintaining a positive plus-minus and moving the puck quickly to offensive players to help put up points.
Also acquired in the Ekman-Larsson trade was winger Conor Garland. The American winger has yet to break 50 points in an NHL season but has a solid presence and good ability to push the play up the ice. There is a chance that the winger will get to move onto the top two forward lines, as he has the ability to play on either wing as well as the skill level to deserve top-line minutes.
The final highlighted signing on the off-season is goalie Jaroslav Halak. While he is just one goalie who has moved during the offseason, he is still one of the best in the business. The veteran netminder can add another team to his resume and will hope to be involved in another Stanley Cup run with his new team. Overall he will make a solid backup for the Canucks, as they look to have Thatcher Demko take on the starting position.
The team also signed forwards Sheldon Dries, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Nic Petan, Justin Dowling, John Stevens, and Sheldon Rempal. As well they signed defensemen Tucker Poolman, Brady Keeper, Travis Hamonic, Luke Schenn, Kyle Burroughs, and Devante Stephens. The sizeable list has made them one of the busiest teams in the offseason.
The Canucks haven’t lost many players so far in the offseason, but have notably lost defender Nate Schmidt, who they had only acquired this past season from the Vegas Golden Knights. Schmidt has made a decent impact with the organization, although he didn’t quite see the form he had with the Golden Knights, as he no longer maintained a positive plus-minus score. The player will hope to recapture his form in his time with the Winnipeg Jets in order to maintain his position as an NHL player.
The Canucks also lost winger Jimmy Vesey, a player who has a rocky time in the NHL and largely fills the role of a bottom-six forward. The speedy winger will likely be signed to a new team soon as he and the Canucks have yet to agree on terms. The player won’t be a major loss for the Canucks, as they have acquired a lot of forward depth, on top of the depth that they already had.
A final highlight of players leaving the Canucks was goalie Braden Holtby. The elite goalie was waived in order to release him from his contract, as his form since leaving the Washington Capitals has not been the best, but is still largely an elite player due to his abilities and general knowledge in the net. The player will look to improve his form with the Dallas Stars as he likely starts for part of the season until Ben Bishop fully recovers his form.
Overall the Canucks have had one of the best offseasons in the league. The team has shed cap space and gotten rid of players who had underperformed with the organization and signed players who will look to bolster the roster with their offensive and defensive ability. The team has yet to acquire many young players, as they were already a fairly young team. The new veteran presence will look to train the young guns into shape and be an inspirational leader to the team as a whole.
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