With the playoffs being a longshot for the Vancouver Canucks, the team needs to start focusing on next year, especially with their defense. General manager Jim Benning recently said that the blueline needs work and the team could find themselves being active participants in free agency this summer.
“We’re going to look this summer to try and change things up in the back end. There’s work to be done on defence,” he told reporters.
The Vancouver Sun’s Patrick Johnston writes that the team will likely make a play for San Jose’s Erik Karlsson, Toronto’s Jake Gardiner and Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers or even try and deal for Jacob Trouba. All are possibilities, although many of them are likely to be longshots. In fact, there may not be many big-name defensive free agents that Vancouver can add.
However, while the team feels good about bringing Quinn Hughes on board later this year, possibly in the next few weeks, and have him take over a spot on the team’s top-four immediately, the Canucks have quite a few decisions of their own roster to make, including the status of defenseman Alexander Edler, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but has indicated a willingness to return to the team even though a they haven’t managed to work out an extension yet. The team will also have to give a significant pay raise to defenseman Ben Hutton who has had a solid season in Vancouver this year.
The Canucks are expected to give a long look to blueliner Ashton Sautner, and still have high expectations for Olli Juolevi, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Regardless, the team will need to do something to improve the teams defense next season.
- It hasn’t exactly been the year that St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri would have hoped for, but the oft-injured winger feels that his play is starting to turn the corner for the Blues, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Fabbri has appeared in just 29 games this season with just five points, but with injuries to Brayden Schenn and David Perron, Fabbri has been receiving those extra minutes as well as some time on the power play, showing some signs that interim head coach Craig Berube is starting to show some confidence in the 23-year-old forward, who has lost almost two seasons to serious knee injuries. “I’ve been feeling good, and I’ve been feeling good for a while,” Fabbri said. “But there’s nothing like playing games. There’s a lot of things during the game that you can only practice in-game. It’s nice that I’m getting that opportunity right now.” Coincidentally, Fabbri has been made a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game, replaced by Sammy Blais, according to NHL.com’s Lou Korac.
- The Dallas Stars get a big boost on their offensive end as veteran forward Jamie Benn is expected back to their lineup Saturday against St. Louis, according to NHL.com’s Mark Stepneski. Benn was forced to leave their Feb. 24th game against the Chicago Blackhawks after suffering an upper-body injury early in the game and subsequently missed the next two games. “I’m good. Ready to go,” Benn said. “100 percent.” The team could use an offensive boost even though Benn hasn’t had his usual type of season with just 21 goals and just 20 assists in 61 games this season.
- The Minnesota Wild will be without veteran forward Zach Parise, who will miss Saturday’s game in Calgary and is questionable for Sunday’s game against Nashville with a foot injury, according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo. The 34-year-old Parise is having a impressive season with 24 goals and 54 points and has been hot lately with a goal and four assists in his last five games.