The Vancouver Canucks entering the offseason before the postseason begins is nothing new.
However, something feels different this time.
Dare I say it, but there’s hope in this market again.
Not just blind hope, but hope that this management regime in charge isn’t going to piss around and live like “day-to-day.”
Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean there weren’t headlines that came out of this presser, mostly based on the comments from President Jim Rutherford.
Here were seven takeaways from the Canucks season-ending press conference from Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin.
1. “We depend on our goalie a lot”
Rutherford didn’t mince words when asked earlier in the season about the strength of his team, answering the question in February by saying, “we have a franchise goaltender.”
He basically doubled down on the same take Tuesday.
“We’d like to see our team play a more structured game and not depend on our goalie as much, but we certainly feel like there’s enough good players here to build over the next year or two into a contender.
“We depend on our goalie a lot and we’re very fortunate we have a terrific goalie. All good teams need to have to have a goalie like Demko to win the Cup.
“At the same time, we have some work to do.”
That you do, Jim.
2. Defensive zone exits are no bueno
Rutherford said many interesting things on Tuesday, but his comments about the team’s defensive zone exits were telling.
“Our exits out of our defensive zone are not good...probably one of the worst in the league.”
“Defencemen are getting in trouble all the time. There’s puck pressure, puck pressure, puck pressure. And...I’m not saying we have the best defence in the league but we have defencemen that are certainly capable of playing better if they had that structure.
“When they're in trouble, what am I suppose to do with the puck instead of banging it up the boards?
“It's something that’s very fixable but it's something the Canucks are going to have to do if we're going to be a consistently good team and not having to rely on our goalie almost every game.
Haven’t heard an executive refer to his team in the third person in a while, but perhaps Rutherford wants to distance himself from the Canucks until they’re actually dangerous.
Smart move Jimmy, smart move indeed.
In terms of the defensive zone exits or “microstats” as the kids call it, they haven’t been overly kind to the Canucks. However, if you’ve watched this team play, you probably know that by now. They aren’t an elite team in terms of moving the puck up the ice quickly.
You can take a look at some of Corey Sznajder’s data here to see that not many Canucks are among the leaders in terms of microstats game scores.
3. Realistic expectations for Spencer Martin
When asked about expectations for Spencer Martin next year, Rutherford didn’t beat around the bush.
“Well you don't know for sure, but if you can get a backup goalie making the league minimum, it gives you some flexibility in other areas cap-wise.
“He’s played extremely well in Abbotsford and he’s played well here.”
Despite his solid body of work this season, Rutherford knows that Martin still has more to prove.
“He can't take anything for granted. he needs to work hard this summer and play the same way.”
And, as a former goalie, Rutherford was impressed with what he saw from Martin.
“Positionally, he was so solid. He knew where the puck was. He was tracking it great. I would be surprised if he dropped off next year.”
4. No imminent extension for Boudreau
This was easily the biggest headline to come from the press conference.
While most media assumed that Boudreau would automatically get an extension after nearly helping Vancouver accomplish the impossible, Rutherford had other ideas.
“He knows we want him back. He was told that before the season was over.
“He knows our position. Like I said, he did a terrific job, but he didn't coach a whole season here.
“We would like to see him back and we would like to work with him on a few things...everybody work together to make it better.”
The media pressed Rutherford on a Boudreau extension, citing the fact that ‘he wouldn’t want to come back as a lame-duck coach.’ Here was Rutherford’s response.
“I don't view him as a lame-duck coach.
“If you have a strong enough organization that supports the coach...and for people who suggest he’s a lame duck because the players will decide not to listen to him, that won't happen.
“The players that start not listening to him will be gone before him.”
5. Offseason outlook
The buzz word around this new management group has been to “create cap space,” but Allvin gave that a bit of context on Tuesday.
“I don’t think you just want to create cap space, you want to get better too.
“There is more work to be done here. We did see some improvement here over the last month but...I think we need to get better in all areas.”
Rutherford then touched on a possibility that might be a deviation from their plan.
“There may be the odd case where [the offseason] ends up in free agency, a couple weeks in, a player in their 30s falls back and that may be the right thing to do at the right price and at the right term, but our plan is still the same, we have some work to do.
“If we add the right players, we can be a playoff team pretty quick.”
That last quote is a bit of a deviation from the Stanley Cup chatter in previous pressers, but Rutherford might not be totally wrong.
There’s clearly a plan to target low-cost players outside of the organization, with a preference on younger players although the possibility of adding guys in their 30s also exists.
6. Comments about Pettersson, Miller and Horvat
Allvin was asked during the press conference about his “we don’t have a superstar” comment and Elias Pettersson’s subsequent hot streak.
“I think my comment was more that we didnt have a superstar that would take all the momey this offseason. I don’t beleive I said we were mising a superstar.
“We do have players that could get to a superstar position in this league, and credit to the players for coming back and having strong second half here.
“I believe there is more to come [with Pettersson]. He needs to have a really good summer here. I believe there is even more potential.
“The next step for all yoiung players is to carry it on in the playoffs. In Pittsburgh, we’ve seen Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang come into the playoffs and make other players better around them.”
Allvin also touched on possible extensions for Miller and Horvat.
“Those two are good players and Bo is the captain of the team, so definitely we will, when the time comes, we will defs reach out to their agents. I had the exit meetings with JT and I will have one with Bo next week.
“They’re good players. We’ll wanna talk about it for sure.”
7. Extreme Makeover: Canucks Facilities Edition
Everytime Rutherford has stepped up to the podium of late, he’s provided an update on, well, updates that are about to take place to the Canucks’ facilities.
“This will be the last time we have a press gallery in this room. You're gonna have a new room. The locker room is going to be redone.”
“We’re going to do some things in Abbotsford. We are going to refresh their dressing room and make it better.”
“The other thing we’re gaining momentum on is the practice rink. Michael [Doyle], it’s one of his priorities, he’s working on it all the time. We’re down to two-to-three sites, and very close to making a decision on the site.”
When asked about how Francesco feels about dishing out all this extra cash, this was Rutherford’s response.
“He really wants to do it. There was no twisting arms here.
“My relationship with Francesco from the day he came to my house has been terrific. I guess we really don't talk that much, maybe once every two weeks, grab a bite and catch up but when we need things, there’s no pushback on it.”