The Vancouver Canucks had three key signings on their to do list as training camp draws near, and on Saturday they announced that they’d ticked one of those boxes, signing Jason Dickinson to a three year deal.
With Dickinson locked in, that just leaves two members of the Canucks core: Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, who need new deals heading into this season. In an ideal world, the Canucks would have better managed their cap situation, and getting both of these players signed to long term deals wouldn’t be an issue. Alas, we’re Canucks fans. That ain’t how we roll. Instead, we will have to see which one gets a bridge deal that will likely cost the team even more down the road.
The question is: Who gets the long term deal? With around $14 Million in cap space (factoring in the movement of Micheal Ferland’s cap hit to LTIR again this season), this is do-able, but again it’s far from ideal, because it opens a situation for the player on the bridge deal to walk at the end of the deal in search of a bigger payday.
We’ve been hearing a lot from Elias Pettersson’s side concerning the ongoing negotiations, and not so much from Hughes. That’s not necessarily an indicator as it is just an example of how different these two are in terms of how they deal with media and social media. Your guess is as good as mine as to who gets the shorter deal, as it seems unlikely either are going to give Jim Benning a hometown discount. Nor should they. It’s up to him to provide them with a supporting cast they can win with. Put up or shut up time, so to speak. The pressure is on for this team to claw back the ground they lost last season.
Also this weekend the team released its full 2021-22 schedule, which sees the Canucks start the season with their first six games on the road. After the season opener in Edmonton October 13th, they head east to take on Philadelphia, Detroit, Buffalo and Chicago, then back across the continent for the debut home game of the Seattle Kraken. The home opener on October 26th is against the Minnesota Wild, the first of a seven game homestand. Other games of note include: A late November Eastern swing that includes games in Pittsburgh, Boston, Montreal and Ottawa; visits from the Penguins, Bruins and Leafs in December; and a New Years Day game in Seattle.
It has some weird quirks, for sure. They won’t see divisional rivals Calgary until January 29th, and they’re skipping Toronto on that November road trip, making their visit to take on the Leafs in early March.
No word yet on what to expect in terms of crowd sizes, and vaccine requirements for attendance, but given the plan the Winnipeg Jets rolled out last week, that all in attendance must be fully vaccinated of have a current negative test result, plus wear masks, I would expect the Canucks to follow suit.
We also don’t know if the NHL will be sending players to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics. With the news that the players will not be insured against catching COVID, as well as not being paid for games missed should they contract the virus, the NHLPA is strongly recommending its members not go. You know that won’t sit well with Gary Bettman, though honestly I’d rather see everything possible done to keep the season going safely without the near three week interruption the Olympics brings.
And finally, yesterday was a sombre anniversary, as we mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of Rick Rypien. It seems a bit unreal that it’s been a full decade since he lost his battle with the mental health issues that plagued him, but his legacy lives on through the Hockey Talks movement and Mindcheck.ca. There’s still much to be done, but we will never forget the courage he showed in getting this ball rolling. We miss you, Ryp.