The Vancouver Canucks saw some improvement with their rebuilding project last season as the team, for a while there, was scratching the possibility of a playoff spot. While that inevitably didn’t happen, the team looks like it’s ready to take that next step and force their way into the postseason picture. To do that, the team will have to add more talent, either in the free agent market or via trade.
Speaking to TSN Radio Vancouver, TSN’s Jeff Patterson said he’s talked recently with Vancouver general manager Jim Benning and believes that Benning is very likely to be active on the trade market as the NHL Draft approaches and the GM is well aware that his job could be on the line if the team can’t take that next step this upcoming season.
My main takeaway is that Benning seems open for business on the trade front. He repeatedly mentioned talking to other managers. He talked about the draft & the week leading up to the draft & how all the managers will be back together again.”
One area the team must focus on this off-season is improving their defense, which lacks significant talent. While the team does expect 2018 first-round pick Quinn Hughes to step right into the lineup, the team will need more ability on the back end and with a minimal amount of talented defenseman available on the free-agent market, the team might be best off making a trade for a defenseman.
Defense is not a position of strength for the Canucks. They can address the defense in free agency, but I got a sense talking to [Benning] and the vibe he was putting out, that he knows that he’s got to make a significant trade. And his trade record hasn’t been very good.
- Sticking with Vancouver defensemen, Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal writes that with three weeks remaining until the UFA interview window is upon them, the Vancouver Canucks haven’t made much progress with veteran defenseman Alexander Edler, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. While there has been quite a bit of talk from both camps about a continued working relationship, the two sides are still far apart, according to Dhaliwal, with rumors that term is the key problem. The 33-year-old has appeared in 814 career games with Vancouver.
- After rumors that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings were discussing a potential Patrick Marleau trade on Friday, Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott reported today that Marleau will not be traded to Los Angeles. The scribe wrote that once the teams started discussions, it quickly became obvious that each teams’ needs and salary cap issues wouldn’t make a trade viable. Toronto is looking to unload the final year of Marleau’s deal at $6.25MM, but will have a challenging time as he has a no-movement clause as well.
- With June 1 hitting the calendars, the Vegas Golden Knights can officially begin negotiations with restricted free agents Nikita Gusev and Jimmy Schuldt after both players signed entry-level deals late in the 2018-19 season, according to Ken Boehlke of SinBin.vegas. Both players are expected to be made qualifying offers, but both are expected to sign longer-term deals instead. Gusev, the 2018 KHL MVP, did not make an appearance in the playoffs when he came over a in April, but is expected to play a role in the team’s top-nine next season. Schuldt, one of the top undrafted college free agents this past year, played one game for Vegas after an impressive four-year career at St. Cloud State University. Schuldt will be given the opportunity to compete for a starting role with the Knights right away.