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NHL extends Player Development Agreements paving way for Canucks to sign Hoglander and maybe Brome

Sweet Swede Nils and late blooming Mathias are Benning signing targets

2019 NHL Scouting Combine
Nils Hoglander performs the pro agility test at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, New York.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

It is a busy time for Canucks’ General Manager Jim Benning as he simultaneously plans for a possible resumption of Vancouver’s 2019/20 regular season and/or playoffs while also preparing for the potential start of the 2020/21 commencement of play.

The NHL is currently working from a tentative blueprint that will see the one season end with the next season beginning with only a brief break in between.

If the go-ahead is given by health officials, the NHL plans to have its players resume skating in informal small group sessions with teammates from May 15th to May 31st. If all goes well, NHL training camps will open at centralized locations on June 1st with a pre-season that includes exhibition games running through the end of June. The completion of the 2019/20 regular season and playoffs would occur from July 1st through September 30th. The short offseason would run from October 1st until mid November when 2020/21 NHL training camps would open. The 2020/21 regular season would then start some time in mid to late December.

2019 second round Canucks’ draft pick Nils Hoglander and SHL free agent Mathias Brome are both being pursued with the 2020/21 training camp in mind. With the state of the league’s salary cap for 2020/21 a great unknown right now, it appears that players on ELCs and low cost un-drafted free agents who can play will become especially valuable next season.

The magical Hoglander needs no introduction to the team-of-many-colours’ devoted faithful. His exploits in Europe and on the world stage are already legendary both off and on the ice.

Many Canucks’ fans already have Hoglander pegged as the franchise’s 4th straight Calder Trophy finalist in 2021 following nominee Brock Boeser, winner Elias Pettersson and presumptive nominee and probable winner Quinn Hughes. However, the NHL club when healthy is now stacked with 16 undisputed NHL calibre forwards (if you include Loui Eriksson in your calculations) ahead of him.

Ten of them are already under contract for the 2020/21 season (Eriksson, Boeser, Horvat, Miller, Sutter, Pearson, Ferland, Roussel, Beagle, Pettersson). Four of them are RFAs whom the Canucks want to retain (Virtanen, Motte, Gaudette, MacEwen). The other two are RFAs the Canucks also want to keep (Toffoli, Leivo).

There are also six young forwards under pro contract itching for a chance (Lind, Gadjovich, Jasek, Palmu, Lockwood, Michaelis) that he has to compete against. Hoglander’s journey to become a 2021 NHL Calder Cup finalist will not be an easy path.

Soon to be 26 year old Swedish Hockey League veteran winger Mathias Brome’s route to an NHL roster spot on the Canucks would also be a difficult one. Orebro’s fan-voted 2019/20 Team MVP may as a result decide to sign with the bottom-feeder Detroit Red Wings who are very thin in NHL-calibre forwards. That said, he may be drawn to try and become part of an up-and-coming young Stanley Cup contender led by Elias Pettersson rather then spend his NHL time losing in a long Detroit rebuild.

Brome’s offensive skill-set is undeniable.

Brome put up 17 goals and 26 assists to tally 43 points in 52 games to lead his Orebro club in scoring. His offensive production has steadily increased in his last three years in the SHL going from 21 to 35 to this season’s 43. He is also defensively sound and can play both left and right wing. He certainly projects as a potential bottom six upgrade for the Canucks lower group of forwards heading into next season.

If the NHL’s projected return to play plan goes ahead as scheduled things will accelerate for the Vancouver Canucks going forward in this so far tumultuous year of 2020. The year could end with a flurry of hockey, followed by an abundantly packed off season and then a sudden new season. One of the most interesting things for Canucks’ fans to follow in the new season will be to track who ends up on the NHL roster in the 13 or 14 available roster spots. Both Hoglander and Brome could be in the final mix.