After a rough start to the season, things brightened up for the Vancouver Canucks when they brought in new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Since the addition of Boudreau, the once seemingly lost Canucks have gone 8-0-1, as the Canucks built momentum the league hit a COVID-19 and holiday pause, followed by new government measures in Canada resulting in two postponed home games. The roller coaster ride for the Canucks as well as their fans is nowhere near an end with many tough decisions approaching quickly.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 30, 2021
General Manager Search
It all starts at the top. The Canucks relieved general manager Jim Benning, assistant general manager John Weisbrod, among others of their duties on December 5th, 2021. They have hired Jim Rutherford to fill the president of hockey operations role, as well as Derek Clancy to fill the assistant manager role, although they are still yet to hire a new general manager. There have been many names tossed around to fill the vacant role in Vancouver, but no one has been named as often as Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager Patrick Alvin, who Rutherford is very familiar with from his time with the Penguins.
Salary cap issues are nothing new to any team, but the Vancouver Canucks have seemingly dug themselves a hole or at least former general manager Jim Benning dug them a hole. With many great young players and equally not-so-great contracts, the Canucks have found themselves in some hot water with few options. Forwards Tanner Pearson and Jason Dickinson carry a combined cap hit for nearly $6 million, while defencemen Tyler Myers, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Tucker Poolman combine for a cap hit of $15.73 million. Dickenson, Pearson, and are signed through the 2023-24 season, Poolman the 2024-25 season, and Ekman-Larsson the 2026-27 season.
After this season the Canucks have Brock Boeser hitting the market as a restricted free agent, as well as Tyler Motte, hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent. After the next season, Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller are set to become unrestricted free agents and Nils Hoglander becomes a restricted free agent. Following the 2023-24 season Elias Pettersson and Vasily Podkolzin become restricted free agents.
Most of the Canucks core is set to hit the market before the bulk of Benning’s bad deals are off the book and it may come down to the Canucks choosing who means the most to the franchise and who they move on from.
The trade market could play to be a vital role for the Canucks as they embark on their quest to compete once again. Although it may not solely be about who they require but instead who they move on from. As valuable as some players are on the ice their is potential teams can move them for multiple pieces just as or more valuable. Therefore the opportunity arises the Canucks may very well move on from either J.T. Miller or Brock Boeser, now many fans cringe at that idea but the Canucks have many needs and the trade market is full of players who can fill those needs. Moving one of the stars could land the Canucks a player or two they could use now or in the future as well as draft capital which the “retooling” have lacked in the past few years.
Tough Decisions Bring Success
Success never comes easy, as many Canucks fans know. Every team has had to make a tough decision on their quest to greatness, whether it be removing a staff member or “giving up” on a player, but in the long run, it pays off. Once the Canucks finally find themselves a general manager to work alongside Rutherford to navigate the salary cap things will fall into place and Vancouver may finally get that elusive Stanley Cup parade along West Georgia Street!
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