As the Canucks wind up their mid-winter organizational meetings in Florida, management will have a chance to watch their BC boys take on the disappointing Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Vancouver has slipped four games below .500 and out of playoff contention, unless one believes a winning clip to the tune of 28-and-13 during the second half of the season is likely.
It’s why management has taken a patient approach to its personnel decision making and why they haven’t relieved head coach Bruce Boudreau of his duties. If at some point in the last three weeks they felt this roster had a legitimate shot at the postseason, they probably would have made that change.
But because of the goaltending situation, the team’s defensive make-up and potential chemistry issues, there was never any reason to move on from ‘Gabby’ and hope for a ‘new coach boost’.
The problems with that also include having to pay ex-Canucks head coach Travis Green, Boudreau, and a new coach all at the same time.
Another issue is finding someone to take over. Yes, while bench bosses relish NHL head coaching opportunities, one at this point might be hesitant to look at Vancouver until they see which personnel is coming in and out and where this roster and chemistry are headed.
At this moment, things remain status quo. Boudreau’s Canucks departure would be a mercy firing, and unless things completely fall to pieces and the PR gets unmerciful, that might not happen. The team still shows signs of compete.
Which brings us back to the meetings.
Not As Much Fun In the Sun
The largest elephant in the room remains Bo Horvat’s future. The Canucks captain is eligible for a new deal, one he’s unlikely to get from Vancouver barring some other very surprising personnel and salary cap moves.
Horvat’s six-year contract that paid him an average of $5.5-million per campaign expires at the end of the season, meaning Vancouver will attempt to maximize the return by shopping him ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline of March 3rd.
There’s interest around the NHL for Horvat either as a playoff rental or a long-term addition to someone’s centre group.
Remember, it’s obviously not all on him, but the ‘Horvat era’ and core has seen the Canucks make the playoffs once in eight seasons. Those numbers include falling short this time around.
This is a fun part of the season for armchair general managers. We’ll soon see where Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and General Manager Patrik Allvin have this thing headed. Falling back enough in the standings this season to give themselves better ping pong ball odds for the NHL Draft Lottery and a crack at 1st-overall pick Connor Bedard might seem enticing, but it’s been made clear on earlier occasions that an appetite for a full rebuild in Vancouver is limited.
Unless that’s changed.
Grinding out of salary cap limitations put in place by the previous administration kind of feels like a rebuild anyway, at least if it’s done properly. It’s definitely not happening with the snap of the fingers.
If you’re gonna shed the money and gut the club, then gut the club.
In the meantime, puck drop for Vancouver’s next on-ice adventure is a little after 4 pm pacific on Saturday in Sunrise.