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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

Canucks Qualify Horvat, 6 Other RFA’s

Today is the deadline for teams to tender Qualifying Offers to their pending restricted free agents, and after the deadline passed at 5 p.m. New York time (2 p.m. local time), we now know which young signed players the Canucks intend on keeping around, and which they intend to let go.

The Canucks had a pile of RFA’s following the conclusion of the season. They have since signed defencemen Erik Gudbranson and Andrey Pedan to one year contracts, with 10 more being nsorted out today.

Shout out to News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal who tweeted out most of this info long before the Canucks did.

Qualified

Bo Horvat

I’m guessing this one was a pretty easy decision, given that Bo Horvat was the team’s leading scorer last season, potting 20 goals goals and 52 while playing 81 games. Though he went into a prolonged goal slump near the end of the season, Horvat spent much of the 2016 calendar year producing like a first line centre, giving the Canucks (and fans) hope that he can take up that mantle from the Sedins at least until the next true number one centre (?) arrives.

The next step here is to get Horvat signed to a real contract, since he certainly won’t be playing at the rate of his qualifying offer. Something closer to the $4-6 million range with multi-year term is likely in the works. Whatever it is, we’ll just hope it happens soon. Canucks fans don’t like seeing their future captain in limbo, vulnerable to an offer sheet (you know, if collusion weren’t a thing).

Brendan Gaunce

After two solid years in the American League, Brendan Gaunce played his first full season with the Canucks in 2016-17, appearing in 57 contests. Gaunce tallied just five assists in his rookie season, and much was made about the fact that he failed to score a single goal. Still, there was some worry that Vegas might try to pluck him during the expansion draft, though they ended up going with Luca Sbisa instead.

The reason that we were briefly fearful of losing Gaunce is that he had pretty spectacular underlying numbers last season. Gaunce led all Canucks players in Corsi-For percentange (51.3%, minimum 15 games played) and Corsi-Against per 60 (49.1), and his CF%relTM, which compares how he did compared to when other teammates were put with the same lineups, was a +5.2%, which trailed only Henrik Sedin.

Gaunce’s AHL production (34 goals, 79 points in 149 games) suggests that he has a lot more to give offensively, even if he tops out as a 10-15 goal scorer, his defensive acumen and versatility (he plays both centre and wing) make him a valuable depth player, especially given his age.

Reid Boucher

Picked up on waivers from the New Jersey Devils in early January, Reid Boucher was a healthy scratch for 13 of the first 14 games that he was on the roster, including the infamous night that Anton Rodin sat on the bench playing zero minutes after re-injuring his knee the previous night.

When he wasn’t being mishandled by the now-former coaching staff, Boucher was a solid middle six contributor. In 27 games with the Canucks, he put up five goals and seven points, despite averaging just 12:11 on a terrible team whose coach was initially extremely resistant to give him meaningful minutes or power play time. During and after the season, most of the talk surrounding Boucher from Canucks management had to do with what kind of shape he was in, rather than the success he had on the ice whenever he was put into a position to succeed.

It’s good to see that they’ve chosen to bring Boucher back, as they can use all the goal scoring help than can get.

Nikita Tryamkin

We all know the story of Nikita Tryamkin by now. The towering Russian defender captured our imaginations and then broke our hearts when he returned to the KHL in what has been described as a “family decision”. Now that Tryamkin has been qualified, the Canucks will retain his rights until July 1st, 2022, leaving plenty of time for the big Russian, who now has a three-year contract with his hometown team, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, to return to the Canucks. Likely, if it happens at all, it’ll happen when the Canucks are a bit better of a team than the one that Tryamkin suffered with last season.

Evan McEneny

Voted Utica’s most improved player this past season, McEneny went from a routine healthy scratch to a minute munching all-situations defender under Travis Green and defensive coach Nolan Baumgartner. He finished the season with eight goals and 23 points in 67 – made all the more impressive by the fact that 22 of those points came in his final 32 games. The massive strides in his play led the Canucks to call him up in February (during the mumps epidemic) and give him his NHL debut.

With Green and Baumgartner moving up to the NHL next season, it may give McEneny a chance to make the club as a sixth or seventh defenceman, or at least be a viable call up option if (or when) injuries occur.

Michael Chaput

Signed to be a leader in Utica and provide call up depth to the big club, Michael Chaput ended up spending the vast majority of his season in the NHL, scoring four goals and nine points in 68 games. He found chemistry with Brendan Gaunce, and together with Jack Skille, they formed one of the league’s better fourth lines in terms of shot differential. They didn’t score many goals, but they certainly didn’t allow very many either.

Chaput, who scored 13 points in 10 games under Travis Green while in Utica, could provide useful depth again next season, though ideally he should be primarily an AHL player. Certainly at the very least he won’t be getting any more time on the top line with the Sedins.

Joseph LaBate

Joseph LaBate, drafted in the fourth round (101st overall) in 2011, made a great impression in Canucks training camp after a solid AHL rookie campaign in 2015-16. LaBate showed the toughness he’s been known for, while also displaying a finishing touch and some impressive setup passes that led people to see him as a darkhorse to make the team out of camp. He didn’t, and when he was called up later in the year, he didn’t show many of the same qualities that had attracted the masses back in September/October.

Still, he’s just 24 years old, and could provide some injury depth for the Canucks, even if it’s strictly in the bottom six.

Not Qualified

Joseph Cramarossa

Picked up on waivers from the Anaheim Ducks towards the end of last season, Joseph Cramarossa played in 10 games for the Canucks and frankly, he wasn’t very good. He didn’t produce any points, and had a team-worst 37.8% Corsi-For percentage, which is alarmingly poor. It wasn’t just with the Canucks that he struggled either, as he operated with a 40.8 CF% during his 49 games in Anaheim as well. Though he’s still young at 24, Cramarossa is eminently replaceable.

Mike Zalewski

Mike Zalewski’s time with the Canucks has been a series of ups and downs. Undrafted, he was signed by the Canucks at the end of the 2013-14 season. After a mediocre first season in the AHL, the Canucks neglected to qualify him. He then signed an AHL deal and had an excellent sophomore season in Utica, leading to the Canucks giving him a call up – which of course necessitated them signing him to a contract first. He was re-signed to an NHL deal for the 2016-17 season, but fought through injuries for much of the year, and his production took a big step back in the American League. Now, Zalewski has once again not been qualified by the Canucks. He will be able to sign an AHL deal if he wishes, and who knows, maybe he’ll work his way back up to an NHL contract again. I wouldn’t think it likely, but stranger things have happened I suppose.

Michael Garteig

Signed as an NCAA free agent just over a year ago, local boy Michael Garteig had an iffy rookie professional season split between AHL Utica and ECHL Alaska. At the age of 25, he was always going to be a long shot, though the fact that he was one of only two goaltending prospects in the Canucks system was working for him. After the Canucks picked up Michael DiPietro 64th overall at the 2017 Entry Draft, Garteig doesn’t even have that to lean on.

With the Canucks goaltending situation still up in the air (they’re working on signing Ryan Miller but as of yet have not been successful, and Richard Bachman is still under contract), it’s possible that the Canucks extend an AHL offer to Garteig and keep him as depth at the position. After all, DiPietro will remain in the OHL and the chances of Miller and Markstrom both remaining healthy all season are pretty slim.

  • Killer Marmot

    You can claim that Boucher was mishandled, but if he truly was in poor shape coming onto the team then I would be reluctant to play him as well. Not only does it send the wrong message, but it can be dangerous to the player.

    • Justmyopinion

      I really don’t care what shape the guy is in..he scored 5 goals in a less than 1/3 of a season and had limited minutes to play..I think under those circumstances, that’s not too bad. This year, he has an opportunity to show what he can do..recall Tryamkin was supposedly ‘not in shape’ either at the beginning but he certainly seem to make up for it as he played more..I believe if Tryamkin had been given a fair shake to start the season, he’d still be here but WD saw fit for Tryamkin to ride the pine while Larsen and Gudbransen got to play way more..if I was a player – that would cause some resentment.

      • Killer Marmot

        They handled Tryamkin as he should have been handled. They gave him short minutes until he had trained himself into shape, and then they gave more minutes. It sent Tryamkin a clear message, one that he will never forget — to play in the NHL you have to be in top shape.

        What’s the problem with that?

          • Killer Marmot

            No, Tryamkin was significantly overweight coming into training camp. That was no fiction.

            Desjardins seemed to be a stickler for conditioning, and I think that was a good thing.

          • Pat Quinn Way

            Oh shut up about Tryamkin. Done, finished OVER. Why even waste the paper on this gutless failure isn’t coming back and frankly who would want him here after scurrying off back to Russia because he couldn’t make it in North America and his wifey told him to. Tear up the contract ffs Benning and accept you wasted the pick!

      • Fortitude00

        Boucher played for multiple teams last year and waived by two of them not sure how you figured he never got a fair shake. 39 games 6 goals and 10 points which is basically half of the season. Sure he didn’t have steady line mates but he found himself on the bottom on three teams including one of the worst in the NHL.

        • Forward Thinker

          He was with New Jersey and claimed by Nashville off waivers. When the waived him, he was claimed Bach by NJ then waived the the AHL. That is when he was claimed by the Canucks. Both jersey and Nashville were much better teams and both saw him as a good prospect but had no room for him so waived him to the farm. That is not a bad comment about the kid. I understand that NJ was not happy to lose him.

      • TD

        I have high hopes for Boucher, but he was horrible in the defensive zone. While not watching even close to all the games, I saw a number of goals against in which Boucher blew his coverage. It’s great that he can score, but if he costs the team more than he produces then he doesn’t help the team.

      • Rayman

        Totally agree,man.

        “When he wasn’t being mishandled by the now-former coaching staff,” I read this line like 5 times and whenever I did that, I cringe my fist. Damn WD……give me my Russian giant back!!

    • Freud

      They dressed Rodin, who had just suffered a season ending injury and didn’t play him because Boucher was out of shape? The same Rodin who appears to have been misdiagnosed by the team and was played into the ground in pre-season?

      Naw, you’re right, nothing to see here. Feelings might get hurt if we demand better.

      • Bud Poile

        Boucher was claimed on waivers Jan.5th.He was in Albany.
        On Jan.6th the game in question was played in Calgary.
        Boucher wasn’t with the club yet and Van was riding a six game winning streak.
        Desjardins never played Rodin because he was recovering from injury and he was only dressed to fill the roster.
        Feelings and demanding better have nothing to do with anything.

      • Killer Marmot

        Bud’s right. The two players never overlapped during the season.

        But the two situations are completely different. A player’s fitness is something the team trainers can easily measure. Rodin’s injury was far more difficult to assess.

      • RoCkFaThEr

        Frued…I’ve being a longtime reader of this site. I can’t say I’ve honestly ever agreed with one of your posts, but this one is bang on! Willie was horrible with his placement ofplayers…
        I really hope with adding a player here getting rid of a player there and a new coaching staff, the Canucks turn towards being a contender and not just a five-year rebuild.

    • Forward Thinker

      If he was in poor shape….it may also have been Willie making excuses as he seemed to play well when given the chance and two good teams seemed to think he was a prospect who just need time in the farm.

  • bobdaley44

    Boucher mishandled? Slow, fat and weak on d. Regardless of his shot he didn’t deserve to play. This is the NHL and not the league to play yourself into shape and learn to play two way.

    • Psych Major

      “This is the NHL and not the league to play yourself into shape”

      Utter drivel as usual from yet another ‘bud poile’ sock account. Dustin Byfuglien arrives out of shape every pre-season and plays himself into shape during the NHL season – he’s a Stanley Cup winner, what are you? Nothing that’s what!

      • Killer Marmot

        Anyone that thinks a marginal player can show up to play out of shape is delusional. This ain’t the sixties. There are may be a few exceptional players who can pull it off, but they are rare and getting rarer.

        My bet is that Boucher gets the message and arrives at training camp fit and ready to play, in which case Desjardins will have done him a huge favour.

      • pheenster

        JD time to step in here. This idiot is fun to poke at and I know he’s driving page views but he’s starting to attack new people who might actually have something useful to contribute. Time to lower the banahammer.

      • Locust

        Thanks Freud, umm Psych Major… Pat Quinn Way??
        Bud constantly eats all these “guys” lunches and they resort to naming him on responses to other posters comments – too funny ….

  • Chadallac

    Can someone tell me didn’t the Canucks need to qualify Anton Rodin? I really want him to get one more shot that would suck, though I have no idea if his injury was career ending.

      • TD

        I agree, give Rodin another $1 mil contract if his knee looks good. We never got a chance to see what he would be like when the games mattered, but I thought he was the best player last preseason. While the preseason isn’t much of a gauge, I thought his skill level looked well above average.

  • defenceman factory

    Assuming all those qualified get signed where are the Canucks on contract numbers? Here’s hoping there are no big splashes for the Canucks in the UFA market from longer term unflippable contracts.

    Are there any interesting RFAs around the league who were not given a qualifying offer?

    Don’t have any big concerns re: who was qualified and who wasn’t but not sure I know all the implications. Any insights from someone other than the “hate everything Benning does” group of sock accounts.

    • pheenster

      One very interesting UFA in Nail Yakupov. Apparently he’s interested in playing here, but as PITB pointed out today he’s probably saying that to all the teams. Guy will never live up to the first overall draft pick but there’s no questioning his raw skill and his development was atrociously mishandled by PQW’s fave team. I’d sign him for a million flat, give him some minutes with some linemates who can play hockey in the preseason and take it from there.

      • defenceman factory

        heard Ray Ferraro on the radio today. About Yakapov he said he looks like he is fast but he’s not. It’s like he is being chased by a bee, lots of movement but nothing really happens.

        Edmonton and the Blues both tried to get something out of this kid but didn’t. Maybe a team short of wingers might consider giving him a try but the Canucks have lots. He can’t kill penalties and would probably just sulk if on a fourth line. I think it’s off to the KHL for Nail.

        • pheenster

          You’re in all likelihood quite correct. That said his development was botched beyond words by the Oilers and St. Louis was trying to win a Cup and needed him to play a role he’s not suited for. He’ll likely get one more kick at the can and it might as well be here. Not like we’re knee-deep in goal scorers.

      • Fortitude00

        I wanted them to get Yak off the Oilers years ago and try and pair him on the Sedin line. Would be worth a shot he’s still a young 20 year old might pot 20 goals someday.

      • Pat Quinn Way

        Great to see the kid bounce back after being so poorly mis-managed by the Benning clown show. Zack was a beast for the Oilers in the playoffs and therefore has fully justified the promise GMMG saw in Kassian upon trading away the malcontent Hodgson for him. Would love to have Zack back on the Canucks as i’m sure all true fans would. Kudos to Peter Chiarelli for doing what Benning couldn’t. Nice one Kass!

        • Bud Poile

          I remember the drunk showng up to team practise half -pissed with a bag of fast-food hamburgers.
          I remember a drunk nobody would trade Benning a bag of pucks for.
          I remember a drunk that played for the Canucks that was a dressing room nightmare in the NHL Substance Abuse Recovery Program .
          I remember a drunk that was fired out of Montreal as fast as an SUV colliding with a telephone poll at 3 a.m..
          Kassian turned his life around and credit to him.
          Benning did the right thing for the Canucks andd Zach..
          Kassian was a big problem,distraction and accident waiting to happen.
          You are the big,ugly clown show here.

          • defenceman factory

            Bud please just stop. PQW knows how inane his comments are and he just bates people into stupid arguments. Most of us have fallen for it at least once.

            Perhaps if ignored he will go away or better yet go to Oilers nation and call them all idiots because they fail to recognize the brilliance of the best GM in the league, Jim Benning. That would get him the attention he desperately seeks.

          • Braindead Benning

            No wonder people call you a stupid idiot… you just proved it once again moron…i am quite sure that if you look very close to home you will find someone in your life that has had some sort of substance abuse issues …. just asked your parents when you were conceived… lol

        • RoCkFaThEr

          Kassian needed to hit rock bottom before he could turn his career around.
          I don’t think there’s One hockey fan alive that is not happy for his success and that he’s turned his life around!
          For you to post something so dispirited just shows what you are. To pit one organization against another is asinine.
          It’s one thing to chirp at someone and push buttons, but buddy….you just crossed a line!

          • KingPavelBure

            I agree, there is something to be said about someone hitting rock bottom and learning that they have to change their ways.

            Maybe a similar opportunity can be had for a player named Nail Yakupov. He’s bounced around and even the Blues no longer want him. This has to say something to the 23 year old to either go back to being a student of the game or start looking in the KHL. Canucks have cap space and a young group of upcoming talent he’ll need to compete with for ice time. If he’ll sign, what do they have to lose?

          • Braindead Benning

            Yo Pheenter, go ahead and question what kind of person I am if you wish… I just laugh at idiots that can put down a player from the MG regime (because of his hatred) with an abuse problem and cry fowl when they question old jimbos decisions

          • pheenster

            Replies to wrong comment… check.
            Full of misspellings… check.
            Comment rambles incoherently … check.
            “Cries fowl” (quack quack)… check.

            Yes folks, we clearly have a case of someone drinking too much bongwater and then posting on CA. Don’t be this guy.

        • Killer Marmot

          Great to see the kid bounce back after being so poorly mis-managed by the Benning clown show.

          You figure it’s easy dealing with an alcoholic, do you? It took a serious car accident in Montreal for Kassian to get the message.

          Benning trading Kassian

  • Walker

    And in other news, Methot sent to Dallas for a bag of doughnuts. No way Tanev can be traded right now. VGK and the NHL with it’s expansion gift policy have destroyed the defenceman market probably for the balance of the season.

    • Bud Poile

      McPhee and Nill had an agreement in place long before this trade went down on paper.
      Taking Eakin and his $3.85m contract is the precursor to this puzzle.

    • Braindead Benning

      I dont think the market has been destroyed by trading a 32 year old 4-6 d-man for a 2nd rounder and a goalie prospect..Hamonic just fetched a 1st and a couple of 2nds and he follows the category as Tanev will and should receive around the same return?

  • Pat Quinn Way

    Same old whining and bellyaching here from the same old suspects I see. What is wrong with you guys… talk hockey or get a life seriously!

    Anyway, one thing jumps out from this piece,