When Jim Rutherford sat in front of the collected Vancouver media today, it was to address the Tanner Pearson situation. Flanked by two of the team’s medical staff, he tried to explain that the club had done everything right in Pearson’s case, but setbacks had resulted in an issue that will keep him out the rest of the year.
Quickly, the conversation turned to the Canucks roster and how it has struggled. Rutherford admitted that he is disappointed in his own performance since arriving in Vancouver, pointing out that the team is still in a tighter cap situation than he expected to be.
When discussing the core players, Rutherford said that his stance has changed. What he thought would be minor changes to the depth, he now calls “major surgery” to the roster before next season. He went so far as saying that not all of the core players were going to still be there.
On captain Bo Horvat, who is a pending free agent, Rutherford explained that the team offered their “best shot” but it was still under market value for what the talented center has done this season.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau “is the coach now” according to Rutherford, who explained that the two are friends. That said, he admitted he has made calls to potential replacements, despite not knowing whether he’ll make a change at this point.
It’s not clear what major surgery will look like, but there are obvious issues for the club. The Canucks are sixth in the Pacific Division with an 18-22-3 record, and can’t seem to find any consistency. Rutherford refused to call any moves he does make a rebuild (using the term “retool” instead), but admitted he might be going after some draft picks and young players as he tries to turn things around.
He also mentioned buyouts as a potential way out from certain contracts, though that wouldn’t be the first option. A player like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, for instance, could be bought out with a massive cap saving for 2023-24, giving the Canucks a chance to bridge the gap to the increase that is expected thereafter.