Canucks’ Offseason Plans & Priorities Revealed: Report

The Vancouver Canucks have a difficult offseason to navigate ahead of them.

The Vancouver Canucks have a difficult offseason to navigate ahead of them.

It’s nearly that time of the year for all NHL teams, at it’s already that time of the year for the subset of franchises that have been eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, such as the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks ended their postseason on Monday, May 20, after losing their second-round matchup against the Edmonton Oilers. They had led the series 3-2 but lost back-to-back games and exited the playoffs.

Before the franchise holds its end-of-season media availability, Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal of The Athletic compiled a comprehensive report on May 22.

“Drance and Dhaliwal have worked the phones to try to get a sense of where the team stands on the precipice of a high-stakes offseason for the hockey club,” The Athletic indicates.

Their story quotes sources close to the team to reveal many of the franchise’s plans and priorities for the offseason and ahead of next season.

Those plans are related to adding new players with “size and scoring,” dealing with Filip Hronek‘s upcoming free agency and handling all other pending free agents with contracts set to expire before July 1, 2024.

“To accomplish all of that within the confines of the NHL’s hard salary cap system is going to be a massive challenge,” the authors wrote. “It’s also going to be essential.”

Canucks Looking to Add “Size & Scoring”

The first issue the Canucks will try to accomplish, according to The Athletic’s report, is adding dynamic scorers and rebuilding parts of the defensive lines while maintaining the size advantage seen this year.

“Team sources indicate that the Canucks’ offseason goals are to add some dynamic scoring punch at the top of the lineup, reconstruct the defence corps given the probability of multiple departures in free agency, and maintain some of the size advantage that was so crucial to the well-defined identity this team carved out last season,” The Athletic reported.

The authors highlight three Canucks’ pending free agents that fit that model, which means the franchise will try to reach a deal with: defensemen Tyler Myers and Nikita Zadorov and forward Dakota Joshua.

“Given how this Canucks team morphed into a gritty, lockdown defensive side, and given what Tocchet’s system demands, size in the lineup is crucial,” the report indicates.

However, accomplishing this will be challenging with many pending free agents and limited cap space.

“Can Vancouver find a way to affordably replace some of that size, or will the team pay a premium price to maintain it?,” the authors asked. “It’s a major question for this offseason, one that ranks among the chief preoccupations for Canucks management going into this summer.”

Canucks’ Top Priority in Free Agency

After discussing the in-house business, The Athletic’s reporters highlighted another main part of the Canucks’ offseason plan. “Identifying another dynamic, creative offensive forward is essential for a successful Canucks offseason,” the authors wrote.

Based on their sources, the authors believe the main priority will be adding a top-6 forward that fits head coach Rick Tocchet’s style of play.

“Based on what we’re hearing, Canucks hockey operations will be aggressive in seeking to add a top-six forward this summer who can contribute to generating shots and goals,” The Athletic reported.

Tocchet, for what’s worth, is coming off a 50-23-9 regular season and a Pacific Division title, which will have some weight on the decision-making process of the Canucks this offseason. Tocchet also won the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL on Wednesday, May 22.

Status of the Canucks’ Pending Free Agents

The Athletic’s story also reports where things stand regarding a few prominent pending free agents from Vancouver.

“All indications are that Hronek’s preference is to find common ground on a suitable agreement to stay in a city that he enjoyed living in and playing in, with an organization that treated him well throughout his first Canucks campaign,” The Athletic reported.

The authors offered an estimation of Hronek’s upcoming deal. “There’s some feeling in hockey circles that Hronek’s asking price is in the $8 million-per-season range.” According to what they have heard, “if the Canucks thought that was a reasonable number, they would have signed their top-pair right-handed defender by now.”

Retaining forward Elias Lindholm “doesn’t seem particularly likely at this juncture,” according to the authors. “The team will make the effort.”

Regarding Joshua, he is “poised to cash in on a career year,” with the Canucks expected to “weight” the volatility of Joshua’s production (he only has one 40-point season in his career) “in determining how comfortable they are paying close to the market rate for a player who is sure to be in high demand if he makes it to July 1.”

Regarding Zadorov, The Athletic reports “There’s at least some internal understanding that Zadorov may have priced himself out of the Canucks’ reach,” the report says.

Finally, regarding Myers, the authors reported Vancouver “would like to have Myers back and he’d like to remain with the franchise.” Touching on numbers, the report says that Myers “isn’t likely to net the $6 million per season that he’s made on his current contract,” but “he’s not coming in at a bargain basementent $2 million cap number either.”

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