On Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks made Jim Benning available to the local media after officially announcing his new three-year contract extension, which will take him through the 2022-23 season.
He also stopped by Sportsnet 650 to speak with Scott Rintoul and Andrew Walker later on Tuesday afternoon.
Not toooo much new material came out of his rounds, but there are a few interesting notes:
• The big one is the contract status of RFAs Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin. Benning said that he expects both players to have new deals in place by training camp — and also name-checked an old face that he hasn't forgotten about.
• Back in July, per NHL.com
, Boeser was also optimistic that a deal would get done. "I love Vancouver," he said. "The organization, the city, the fans, everything's great there, and I want to be there for a long time."
I did a rundown on Wednesday morning of the latest on the unsigned RFAs around the league.
Though I didn't mention him in my story, Ottawa forward Colin White — who, like Boeser, wasn't eligible for an offer sheet — inked his new deal on Wednesday morning, at six years with a cap hit of $4.75 million. White, 22, hit 41 points in 71 games last season but is still realizing his potential. He finished out his entry-level contract with 47 points in 94 games while Boeser has 116 points in 140 games. White was drafted two spots ahead of Boeser in 2015, 21st overall, and the two turned pro at the same time after two years of college but so far, Boeser's well ahead on the development curve.
• Benning also gave an update on the Loui Eriksson situation.
Total speculation here on my part, but I wonder if the "conversations" surrounding Eriksson were indeed that rumoured three-way deal with Edmonton and Calgary that ended up being the simpler James Neal-for-Milan Lucic swap?
• Reading between the lines here, if Eriksson doesn't have an amazing training camp, is he really going to end up being sent to Utica?
Here's how Benning explained his plan to get Boeser under contract despite his team's cap crunch, per The Canadian Press via CBC.ca
"We've got different options. We're going to look at all of our options. But a lot's going to depend on training camp. We're going to have a competitive camp this year. There's going to be competition for jobs and ice time," he said, adding that he's already got a green light from ownership to send players on big contracts down to the minors if necessary.
"We're going to go through camp and see how camp goes and see where our guys are. And the players who deserve to be here will be here. And then we're probably going to have to make some tough decisions."
He also brought up LTIR...
Feel free to write your own Edler/Tanev joke here if you're so inclined...
But seriously — Antoine Roussel is expected to start the season on long-term injured reserve after undergoing ACL surgery in March. He's expected to be ready to get back into action around late November, so that's $3 million in extra space that the Canucks can use for the first two months of the season. If they decide to use that, it'll be easy for the team to make the necessary moves to get compliant on Day 1 of the regular season. Boeser's still waiver exempt, so if his deal is done, it can be temporarily moved off the books to assure cap compliance.
It'll also be interesting to see how healthy Brandon Sutter looks when he lands at camp. His season ended in February, and he underwent sports hernia surgery in early March.
It continues to boggle my mind that in the five seasons before he came to Vancouver, Sutter had missed a grand total of three games. Now, in four years with the Canucks, he has barely been healthy half the time. He has missed 140 games out of a possible 328.
When Sutter's on his game, he's a solid faceoff man and a diligent two-way player. But his 56 missed games last year gave Adam Gaudette the opportunity to show that he's quickly becoming a solid replacement — at a lower cost, and probably with more offensive upside.
I'd love to see Sutter come back at 100 percent and help solidify the bottom six, but I worry that all his missed games have put him behind the eight ball in terms of recovery, and it might not be easy for him to find his best form after so much time off the ice.
Last year, Benning showed that he wasn't afraid to move a pedigreed player off his main roster when he brokered the deal that sent Sam Gagner to the Toronto Marlies. The table is even more clearly set for another similar big move this year.
I'll wrap up today with a couple of Micheal Ferland notes, as we start adjusting to the idea that he is now friend, not foe.
Ferland has made his way out to the west coast and begun his on-ice preparation — apparently with no residual issues from the injury problems that were still bothering him during the Carolina Hurricanes' playoff run last spring.
Ferland has spent a little time in the Fraser Valley before. He played parts of two seasons with the AHL Abbotsford Heat when he was part of the Calgary Flames organization between 2012 and 2014.
Also, the native of Swan River, Manitoba and his wife took some time to give back to the community of Brandon, where Ferland played three years of minor hockey with the Wheat Kings.
Barring any additional breaking news over the next couple of days, I'll continue my 2019 draft prospect profiles in the next blog with WHLer Carson Focht—who was drafted in the exact same spot as Ferland, 133th overall in the fifth round, nine years apart. Ferland's living proof that it can be done!