While the Canucks have a little over $53MM committed for next season, GM Jim Benning told Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet that he doesn’t envision the team being overly active in free agency:
I don’t think it’s as much as people think. We’re continuing to talk to Alex Edler and try to figure out a new deal for him there, and we’re in conversations with Brock (Boeser) and his camp. I don’t think we’re going to be going crazy with a lot of the top-end guys (in free agency).
Boeser is one of the high-end restricted free agents that will land a long-term contract this offseason while Edler’s new deal will probably come in around the $5MM AAV on his current pact. On top of that, Calder favorite Elias Pettersson is a year away from being eligible for an extension while blueliner Quinn Hughes is also in that situation. Knowing that there are those big-ticket deals on the horizon, it’s likely that the Canucks will be looking for some short-term contracts on the open market.
Elsewhere out West:
- Injuries have been a problem for Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson all season long and they have crept up once again. Head coach Craig Berube told reporters, including Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that the veteran is questionable for tonight’s series opener against San Jose due to a lower-body injury. He is expected to try to skate early in the day with a decision being made on his availability after that. Gunnarsson has been a dependable player in his own end when he has been in the lineup but durability is starting to become a concern for the 32-year-old and the timing is not ideal as he’s set to become a free agent in July. If he can’t suit up, Robert Bortuzzo is expected to take his place in the lineup.
- The Oilers are looking to hire someone with NHL head coaching experience to replace Ken Hitchcock, GM Ken Holland told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. He notes that while a rebuilding team can afford to go with a first-time coach, Edmonton is not in rebuild mode despite their struggles in the standings so someone with experience is their preference. Dave Tippett, Todd Richards, and Jacques Martin are among the coaches with NHL experience that are still available.