With so many forwards now on their roster, the Vancouver Canucks coaching staff should have their hands full when training camp begins. The team now has 14 forwards under contract with two restricted free agents still to sign in Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin. That’s a lot of players for just 12 spots in the lineup.
One player who should find himself highly scrutinized is Loui Eriksson, who has made it clear he wouldn’t mind a change of scenery as he has stated he isn’t a big fan of Travis Green and his coaching staff. Unfortunately, a trade might be challenging as Eriksson still has three years remaining at $6MM AAV. When Vancouver Sun’s Patrick Johnson asked general manager Jim Benning about the possibility of sending Eriksson to the Utica Comets of the AHL, Benning was slow to answer.
“I don’t have a direct answer for that right now,” he admitted.
Eriksson’s agent said he doesn’t expect his client to be waived or re-assigned to Utica. Not sure if Benning feels the same way.
- With a large number of young wingers and recent two-way acquisitions this summer, the writing could be on the wall for winger Nick Ritchie, who still has two years remaining at a very reasonable $1.49MM. The 23-year-old hasn’t developed into the scoring power forward the team hoped for when they drafted him 10th overall in 2014 and he might be a perfect trade candidate, according to Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription required). Ritchie will have to fight for one of the left wing openings or he could find himself on a new team shortly.
- Edmonton Journal’s Kurt Leavins writes that while many people are questioning the Oilers decision-making in signing veteran goaltender Mike Smith after a disappointing campaign last year in Calgary, the numbers may tell a different story. While the 37-year-old goaltender finished with less than stellar numbers: 42 games, 2.72 GAA and a .898 save percentage, he did finish strong at the end of the season. In his seven of his last 10 regular-season games, Smith finished with a .923 save percentage or higher. He also did the same in three of the five playoff games he appeared in. He could bounce back in a big way.
- The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz (subscription required) looks at the Sharks salary cap situtation in 2020. The team should have $10.3MM in available salary cap space, but that doesn’t include an expected long-term deal for Kevin Labanc. However, the scribe notes that no matter what, the team will probably have to let defenseman Brenden Dillon go despite his value to the team’s blueline. However, if Radim Simek continues to get top-four minutes, Dillon would be only a third-pairing defenseman and wouldn’t be worth the $3.27MM he currently makes anyway, especially if he’s looking for a raise.