There are two notable absentees from Vancouver’s training camp in defenseman Quinn Hughes and forward Elias Pettersson who remain unsigned. However, it appears contract talks between the Canucks and their representatives at CAA are starting to improve as Thomas Drance of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that some progress was made on both fronts today while Rick Dhaliwal of CHEK and The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that Hughes’ deal is closer to be being completed out of the two though they are being done together. In the latest TSN Insider Trading segment (video link), TSN’s Darren Dreger mentions that the state of discussions could be classified as “grinding” so there is clearly some work still to be done.
While the Canucks would undoubtedly like to get long-term deals done with both players, they may not have the cap space to do so and keep wiggle room for in-season movement – roughly $17MM per CapFriendly if Micheal Ferland returns to LTIR. Hughes would likely be seeking a deal similar to Cale Makar’s in Colorado ($9MM AAV for six years) while Pettersson’s comparables on a long-term pact could push him over the $9MM mark as well.
One potential factor here is the status of defenseman Travis Hamonic who remains unvaccinated with the deadline to opt out of the season coming up on Friday. If that happens, he would come off the salary cap some of his $3MM AAV could be redirected towards Hughes and Pettersson although some would need to be earmarked to a replacement blueliner as well.
At the very least, it appears as if discussions are heading in the right direction. And until Hamonic’s situation is finalized on Friday, they may have to wait a little longer until they officially know how much they’ll have available to spend on their young stars.