The Vancouver Canucks might have lacked a first round pick, but that didn’t stop the news from pouring in.
Toffoli testing market
It appears as if the Canucks lack of cap space is preventing them from re-signing Tyler Toffoli.
Word it appears as if Tyler Toffoli will hit market due to VAN’s tight cap situation. Another scorer available in free agency— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 6, 2020
While there’s no guarantee that he’s gone for good, the chances of him returning automatically decrease with this announcement.
It’s disappointing as well, after Toffoli fit in seamlessly in the Canucks top six. He had eight goals and 14 points in a combined 17 regular season and playoff games for the Canucks.
Simply put, losing Toffoli puts a massive hole in the Canucks top six. And for those that want to praise Jim Benning and his top-six GM efforts, remember that it was his bloated bottom-six contracts that got the Canucks in this situation.
More wrinkles in the OEL situation
While there hasn’t been an official trade after almost a week of heavy speculation, the Oliver Ekman-Larsson situation took a couple of other twists yesterday.
.@FriedgeHNIC latest on OEL to @Sportsnet: As of this afternoon it looked unlikely for BOS. That made VAN appear like the more likely destination. I think the #Canucks want to do it, but it’s a challenge between their cap situation and finding a deal that makes both sides happy.— Dan Riccio (@danriccio_) October 7, 2020
It makes sense that the Canucks are more determined to make an OEL trade happen. If Boston really wanted a top-flight offensive defenceman, why wouldn’t they just work harder to sign Torey Krug?
Still, there is no guarantee that this deal gets done. As Ekman-Larsson’s agent Kevin Epp tweeted out on Tuesday, the Coyotes have until 9:00 am Friday to trade him, or else he’s staying put in Arizona for another year.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson through his agent, Kevin Epp has imposed a Friday deadline for a trade to either Boston or Vancouver. “We think the best option for a trade is before free agency,” Epp told TSN. “If no deal by Friday, Oliver is staying in Arizona.”— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 6, 2020
GM Bill Armstrong on the Fri. trade deadline set by OEL's agent Kevin Epp: “When you have the no-(move) clause you can do what you want. I guess they set deadlines, too. There's nothing I can do to control that. It's something they wanted to get accomplished & I guess they did."— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) October 7, 2020
Virtanen qualified, but what about Stecher?
So after Benning’s posturing about Jake Virtanen’s mediocre playoff performance, I wondered if both he and Stecher might go unqualified during the RFA qualification window.
That wasn’t the case for Virtanen, who was qualified by the team on Monday.
Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that Toffoli might be leaving this club. While Virtanen is a serious downgrade, it makes sense that this team didn’t want to lose two of their top-three right wingers in one week.
Still, Virtanen’s arbitration case will be one worth watching. The window for players electing for arbitration ends on October 10th at 2:00 pm PST. Then, NHL clubs have 24 hours to elect for arbitration themselves, with the window fully closing on October 11th.
Although Virtanen has been qualified, there appears to be less assurance on the same happening for Troy Stecher.
I’d be surprised at this point if Stecher is qualified. His $ is easiest to shed.— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) October 7, 2020
It doesn’t require deferred cap hits like a buyout. It doesn’t require surrendering assets to rid yourself of bad contracts. #Canucks https://t.co/WZvN6ebORo
It would be quite the decision to qualify Virtanen and not Stecher, if that does end up being the case. It’s a situation to monitor Wednesday with the window closing at 2:00 pm PST.
After inking a pay-day at two years, $825,000 per season, Zack MacEwen was celebrating last night.
MacEwen played 17 NHL games last season, but he made an impact with his physical brand of play, along with a penchant for chipping in offence. He finished the season with five goals and six points in limited minutes.
While his 29% shooting percentage was unsustainable, it was nice to see MacEwen get to the scoring areas in the high slot for the majority of his goals last season.
Depending on what happens with the Canucks offseason, MacEwen could see an increase role with the team, or perhaps even a regular spot in the top-12. If that’s the case, perhaps the coaching staff attempt to get him move involved on the penalty kill next season.
Motte & Gaudette expected to be qualified today
Speaking of the penalty kill, the Canucks are reportedly going to qualify Tyler Motte on Wednesday, according to TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal.
They will also reportedly qualify Adam Gaudette.
If that’s the case Stecher would remain the last notable RFA to not receive qualification.
Vegas desperate to offload Marc-Andre Fleury
One last piece of news that could be Canucks related, was a report that the Vegas Golden Knights are looking to offload Marc-Andre Fleury, with the sweeteners being a 2021 second-round pick and half of Fleury’s $7 million/year salary being retained.
The Golden Knights have reportedly offered a second-round pick for a team to take just half of Fleury’s salary, but teams, including the Hurricanes, are asking for a first and a second. Moving Fleury is the top priority right now https://t.co/gkHBIMGpHD— Justin Emerson (@J15Emerson) October 6, 2020
Depending on Markstrom’s next contract, I’m still of the belief that the Canucks should let him walk to fill in some of the other holes on their roster. If that’s your belief as well, then this acquisition cost to bring in Fleury should sound awfully enticing.
We’ll see if there’s some more juicy movement on the Canucks front today. Of course, Benning pulled the trigger on the J.T. Miller deal during day two of the 2019 draft. Does he have another blockbuster deal in the holster this time around?