The Vancouver Canucks have added another depth option to the organization, signing Jayce Hawryluk to a one-year, two-way contract. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the deal will carry an $800K salary in the NHL, paying $200K in the AHL. Hawryluk became an unrestricted free agent when the Ottawa Senators decided not to issue him a qualifying offer this fall.
The 24-year-old Hawryluk was the 32nd overall pick back in 2014, selected at the beginning of the second round by the Florida Panthers. After becoming a dominant presence in the WHL for the Brandon Wheat Kings, he transitioned to professional hockey and made his NHL debut in 2018. During that 2018-19 campaign, he played in 42 NHL games but wasn’t able to really land a guaranteed full-time spot in the Panthers lineup. After playing in just 15 games for Florida this season, he ended up on waivers where the Ottawa Senators put in a claim.
Down the stretch, Hawryluk took advantage of his opportunity in Ottawa, scoring seven points in 11 games before the season was suspended. The team decided not to keep him around, however, likely because of the fact that he was arbitration-eligible. The Senators let several players reach free agency instead of dealing with arbitration, including Hawryluk and Anthony Duclair.
He’ll have to fight for a spot on the Canucks, but there is certainly reason to believe Hawryluk could land a spot in the team’s bottom-six. With cap issues coming (or perhaps here already), Vancouver will need inexpensive NHL options to fill out their third and fourth lines in the coming years. Importantly, though Hawryluk was an unrestricted free agent this season, he will be a restricted free agent again next offseason for the Canucks as long as he plays in 12 games. Should he fail to play in that many at the NHL level, he would qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency in 2021.