Unlikely playoff push complicates trade deadline for new Canucks front office

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks haven’t made Jim Rutherford’s job straightforward.

The group languished on the backside of the Pacific Division standings when Rutherford was appointed president of hockey operations in early December. Now the Canucks (30-25-7) sit three factors out of a playoff spot, complicating whether or not Vancouver shall be consumers or sellers forward of Monday’s NHL commerce deadline.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned he’s provided to assist the entrance workplace in any method he can, however hasn’t been speaking to administration a lot.

“I feel Jim and (basic supervisor Patrik Allvin) have a extremely good nostril for what this group wants,” he mentioned. “I feel they like the way in which issues are going. We all know we undergo a gauntlet after this weekend of groups. However I’ve come to the conclusion that you could beat anyone on any given evening.”

J.T. Miller was anticipated to be Vancouver’s largest commerce asset heading into the deadline.

The versatile 29-year-old ahead not solely produces, placing up 73 factors (24 objectives, 49 assists) in 59 video games this yr, however he comes with a tantalizing deal — a US$5.25 cap hit for this season and subsequent.

Vancouver’s unlikely to maneuver Miller earlier than Monday, although. Because the group’s prime scorer and a locker-room chief, he’s too essential to the group’s post-season push.

A number of Canucks gamers are nonetheless rumoured to be on the commerce block, although, together with Brock Boeser.

The 25-year-old right-winger has amassed 35 factors (17 objectives, 18 assists) in 55 video games this yr and carries a cap hit of $5.875 million. Whereas he’s been a reasonably constant contributor in Vancouver, Boeser has but to crack the 30-goal mark in 5 NHL seasons.

He’s additionally set to turn out to be a restricted free agent this summer season and his $7.5-million qualifying supply may scare away potential takers.

The Vancouver Canucks have not made Jim Rutherford's job easy as they sit three points out of a playoff spot, complicating whether Vancouver will be buyers or sellers ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline. Rutherford listens during his first news conference since being hired by the NHL hockey team, in Vancouver, on Monday, December 13, 2021.

One other ahead who may draw curiosity is Conor Garland.

The 26-year-old winger got here to Vancouver from Arizona with defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in an enormous deal forward of the entry draft final summer season, then inked a five-year cope with a median annual worth of $4.95 million.

A slippery participant who’s recognized to spin his method into open ice, Garland has 32 factors (14 objectives, 18 assists) in 56 video games for the Canucks and is on tempo to prime the career-high 39 factors he tallied with the Coyotes in every of the final two seasons.

Groups in the hunt for a extra defensive ahead may very well be trying to choose up centre Tyler Motte.

The Canucks have discovered large worth in a shutdown line headlined by the 27-year-old centre this season however the speedy skater has left his mark on the rating sheet, too, notching 15 factors (seven objectives, eight assists) in 46 video games.

At a cap hit of $1.225 million, Motte is a worth add. He’s additionally more likely to demand a pay increase when he turns into an unrestricted free agent this summer season.

One defenceman Vancouver could get calls about is Luke Schenn.

The 32-year-old two-time Stanley Cup winner returned to the Canucks from Tampa Bay as a free agent this season, signing a two-year cope with a really cheap $850,000 AAV. In 46 video games, he’s proved to be dependable on the blue line, tallying 9 factors (three objectives, six assists) with 36 penalty minutes and a plus-minus score of plus-13.

In any potential deal, Rutherford and his group shall be trying additional forward than this season, no matter whether or not playoffs are within the image.

The Canucks are proper up in opposition to the cap and each Rutherford and Allvin have mentioned the membership must shed wage with the intention to be aggressive transferring ahead.

Vancouver additionally possesses a shallow prospect pool and the group is probably going keen to gather younger expertise and draft picks.

The necessity for a youthful, deeper blue line now received’t escape administration’s consideration, both.

In Rutherford and Allvin’s first commerce deadline with the Canucks, the want listing is lengthy and the prospect of playoffs looms massive.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed March 18, 2022.

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