Canucks, Anthony Beauvillier

NHL Season Is 1 Long Try-Out For Canucks Free Agents

After J.T. Miller signed his seven-year contract extension with the Canucks last September, it left the club with eight pending free agents as the season got started. One of them was captain Bo Horvat.

Here’s the list and the results of that pending free agency:

Horvat: Gone. Traded on January 30th to the New York Islanders for a player, a prospect, and a pick.

Luke Schenn: Gone. Traded ahead of the deadline (2/28) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 3rd-round pick.

Kyle Burroughs: Gone. Signed by the San Jose Sharks on July 1st.

Nils Höglander: Still here. Signed to a two-year deal worth $1.1-million per on July 9th.

Andrei Kuzmenko: Still here. Signed back on January 26th to a two-year deal worth $5.5-million per.

Will Lockwood: Gone. Minor leaguer traded in late February with a 7th-rounder to the New York Rangers for Vitali Kravtsov, who’s now playing in Russia.

Travis Dermott: Gone. Signed with the Arizona Coyotes on July 11th.

Justin Dowling: Gone. Mostly minor leaguer signed by the New Jersey Devils on July 1st.

Given their salary cap situation and the transitional nature of the roster, this six-out-of-eight turnover was not surprising considering the Canucks weren’t in the playoff picture at the trade deadline and in certain cases were dealing with expendable substitute players.

Canucks New Big Challenge

This time around there are 14 pending free agents if you include both back-up goalie candidates, and that’s not including additional prospects and other players on minor league deals.

It begins and ends with Elias Pettersson. If he’s not re-signed by the trade deadline and it’s determined he’s not coming back, the Canucks will have to make the best possible trade or risk watching him walk. This will come down to open communication between the two sides and where the Canucks sit in terms of the playoff race.

Best case scenario for the Canucks fans would be to see the contract talks kick-start in the fall and a deal getting done reasonably early in the season. As it stands right now this “non-contract-talk” could be a leverage play by Pettersson’s agent Pat Brisson. He’s done it before. OR, “Petey” is seriously considering going bye-bye.

Other Canucks

Speaking of leverage, winger Anthony Beauvillier, the “player” coming the other way in the Horvat deal, will have plenty if he puts up another half-a-point-a-game season. Of course, only part of last season was in a Canucks sweater.

$4.1-million is a pretty decent amount for a 26-year-old, top-six forward of whom much will be expected.

One should understand that the current Canucks management group, outside of trying to find a young centre somewhere, is content with letting these try-outs unfold. That’s ultimately what this amounts to when you look at the rest of the free agent forwards. It’s a wide variety of talents, personalities and ages, but ultimately it could head in any direction for Teddy Blueger and Dakota Joshua. Same for plug-ins Sheldon Dries and Jack Studnicka.

By the way, add Tanner Pearson and his final year of $3.25-million to this list. He appears ready to go. Or be sent.

You might see two of these guys back in a year.


Tyler Myers anyone? The whipping boy’s deal is finally up. $6-million goes away no later than next July 1st.

It’s a similar mish-mash to up front. Veteran, new guy Ian Cole is up. Apparent key righthander Filip Hronek will be up as well, with arbitration rights next summer. Same with Jack Rathbone. How many question marks can we type there. Matt Irwin will be a UFA.

As mentioned off the top, both back-ups Arturs Silovs (RFA) and Spencer Martin (UFA) will have their contracts expire. Where’s North Vancouver native Martin Jones when you need him? Oh yeah, he’s in Toronto for now.

The Moral Of The Story

Although it sounds a bit messy at the moment, this is how a management team that arrived handcuffed eventually shakes itself free, by opening up a roster and a salary cap that was heavily burdened. There will still be a bit of it potentially lingering around next summer, see Boeser and Garland, but not even close to the level of two seasons ago.

A playoff berth is a bonus. Let the months long try-out commence.


— Captain Or Not, Canucks Room Is Largely Miller’s

— Hronek Shocked By Trade To Canucks; As Was Hockey World

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.