Success within the Stanley Cup playoffs has left the Vancouver Canucks on the similar crossroads the place a few their Pacific Division rivals stood a number of years in the past.
In 2017, the Edmonton Oilers completed second within the division and took Anaheim to seven video games within the second spherical. It regarded like a coming-out social gathering for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, however the Oilers missed the playoffs the subsequent two years and did not get previous the play-in spherical this season.
This 12 months, the Canucks eradicated the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in six video games, then took the Vegas Golden Knights to a seventh sport – after trailing 3-1 – of their Western Convention second-round sequence.
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Whereas happy together with his group, head coach Travis Inexperienced mentioned it is the start of a protracted journey.
“You’ll be able to’t simply keep the identical, it’s a must to enhance to get higher and proceed to enhance yearly,” Inexperienced mentioned throughout a convention name Tuesday.
What path the Canucks observe subsequent 12 months will rely on selections made by basic supervisor Jim Benning.
The NHL wage cap will stay at $81.5 million US subsequent season. That offers Benning about $15 million when deciding on unrestricted free brokers like goaltender Jacob Markstrom, defenceman Chris Tanev and ahead Tyler Toffoli. He additionally should take care of restricted free brokers like ahead Jake Virtanen and defenceman Troy Stecher.
Markstrom, Vancouver’s finest participant the final two seasons, shall be on the lookout for a increase from the $3.6 million he earned this 12 months. He is additionally 30 years previous and missed components of the common season and playoffs with accidents.
Rookie Thatcher Demko, who will make simply over $1 million subsequent 12 months, stepped in for Markstrom when the Canucks trailed Vegas 3-1 and made 123 saves and recorded a shutout.
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Benning sees worth in having “two good goalies,” however holding each could possibly be a monetary stretch.
“We will attempt to determine a means that is sensible for us and makes Jacob and his agent completely happy, to try to determine a deal to try to get him signed,” Benning mentioned. “We wish him again.”
Waiting for 2021-22, Benning might want to cash to pay younger stars like centre Elias Pettersson and defenceman Quinn Hughes, the constructing blocks of any Canuck success.
Tanev, 30, made $4.Four million final 12 months. He is been paired with Hughes and performed a task within the Calder Trophy candidate’s growth. Tanev can be 30 years maintain and has a historical past of accidents.
Veteran defenceman Alex Edler has two years left on his contract and Vancouver has promising younger blue-liners like Jalen Chatfield, Olli Juolevi and Brogan Rafferty within the system.
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Virtanen, 24, had profession highs in factors (36), objectives (18) and assists (18) in 69 video games final 12 months whereas being a discount at $1.2 million. His growth curve has additionally been inconsistent.
Winger Loui Eriksson, 35, who had no factors in 10 playoffs video games, stays a monetary rock tied across the Canucks’ neck. He has two years left on a contract paying him $6 million a season.
Benning has already heard from GMs about doable trades.
“Now we have numerous good younger gamers going ahead that we now have to verify we now have room to signal them,” he mentioned. “We’re going to need to make some powerful selections, possibly even on some younger gamers.
“We’re going to need to determine what gamers we wish to signal going ahead and different gamers possibly we are able to transfer on to recuperate [draft] picks. That is the circle of life in our enterprise.”