Without an official start date announced for the expanded NHL postseason, it is nearly impossible to guess when the Stanley Cup might be awarded this year and when the off-season may begin. All that Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning cares about is that by the time the off-season does arrive, goaltender Jacob Markstrom is back under contract. “He’s an important guy for us,” Benning told Ben Kuzma of The Province, adding “My intent is to figure out something that works for him and us. I’m hoping to get him signed.” Markstrom is part of a trio of key free agents for Vancouver that includes defenseman Chris Tanev and forward Tyler Toffoli, but the All-Star netminder appears to be Benning’s priority. The GM has been working to extend Markstrom all year, while Markstrom himself has said multiple times that he would like to remain in Vancouver. All that is left is for the two sides to meet on money in the confines of a potential flat salary cap and the Canucks’ hefty payroll. Markstrom enjoyed a career year in 2019-20 and could still boost his stock even further with a strong playoff performance. If the Canucks don’t pay him, someone else undoubtedly will.
- The city of Vancouver is hoping to have a first-hand look at the coming postseason. The province of British Columbia has put together a formal proposal, designed and approved by its top healthcare professionals, that recommends Vancouver as one of the two “hub cities” for the NHL’s makeshift playoff format. Per the Canadian Press, this proposal will be presented to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for approval and then finally to the NHL. Vancouver was already on the shortlist of possible locations that the league was considering, but are now taking steps to be a front runner for the event. Whether or not the NHL would allow the Canucks to play at home or instead send the Eastern Conference teams to Western Canada remains to be seen.
- Working against Vancouver’s odds of hosting a postseason tournament is Canada’s continued insistence on a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country. If this policy is still in place once the postseason is ready to commence, it would present a holdup that the NHL cannot afford. Before it even reaches that possible breaking point, the quarantine rule is already impacting training camp plans. Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving tells TSN’s Ryan Rishaug that the organization already has a plan in place to hold their July training camp in the U.S. if the quarantine rule is not lifted or an exception is not made. “I don’t want guys coming back to Calgary and sitting on their butts for two weeks,” Treliving stated, “It may make more sense for us to have camp in the U.S. so we can have guys together quicker and being productive. The quarantine issue is a big one.” There is no word yet on where exactly this fallback training camp would take place, but hockey-centric cities relatively close to Calgary include Spokane, Washington and Grand Forks, North Dakota.