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News and Notes: Reinforcements from Utica, trade deadline anticipation, the Seattle Kraken, and more

After winning their first game out of the All-Star break, the Canucks will have another day off before getting back in action on Saturday night when they visit the New York Islanders. Here are some off-day notes.

Tyler Motte was placed on the Injured Reserve after suffering an upper-body injury due to a questionable hit from Erik Karlsson in Wednesday’s win against the San Jose Sharks. Karlsson rode Motte hard and pushed his head into the boards. He didn’t receive a penalty on the play or any discipline from the league for the hit.

Coming up in Motte’s place will be forwards Justin Bailey and Zack MacEwen.

Though Motte only has three goals and five points this season, losing him from the lineup isn’t unsubstantial. Motte plays a key role in Vancouver’s solid penalty kill and on the team’s pesky fourth line.

Where would that leave Bailey and MacEwen?

Bailey has been pushing hard for a call-up with strong offensive play as of late. His 24 goals in 45 games for the Utica Comets places him in a tie with Reid Boucher for the team lead. The former second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres brings 63 games of NHL experience to the table. MacEwen, on the other hand, has 12 career games with the Canucks between this season and last.

Both players bring big bodies and a physical game but fit more of an offensive profile. Travis Green could slot either one in on the third line alongside Adam Gaudette and Brock Boeser while sliding the gritty Antoine Roussel to the fourth line.

Speaking of Roussel, he talked to the Provies on Thursday about his thoughts on how the front office should approach the trade deadline. Though Motte was injured and leaves a hole on the Canucks’ fourth line, Roussel doesn’t believe the team should be seeking out added grit and toughness through trade.

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“It’s not our identity if we chase for toughness. That’s not going to give us a good trade-off for the way we’re playing. Is that really going to help us? I think we’re good right now. If we get Ferly (Ferland) healthy, he doesn’t need to fight. It’s just getting him back in the lineup.

“Playing tough is playing hard. Make people crack. That’s how we’ve had success this year. When we won the West with Dallas (regular-season title in 2015-16), I kind of see the same thing happening here. We are coming into buildings with no fear at all.” Source

The Canucks are pressed right up against the salary cap ceiling right now and given the fact Jim Benning has already traded away the team first-round pick in 2020, making a deadline addition won’t be easy. Vancouver’s deadline additions could just end up being internal as players return from injuries.

When Quinn Hughes played in the All-Star game last weekend, the Canucks became the first team in the expansion era to have rookies participate in back-to-back-to-back All-Star games. It started with Brock Boeser in 2018, went to Elias Pettersson in 2019, and Hughes in 2020.

Come July 1, the Canucks will be able to start negotiating a contract extension with their young star defenceman, which is something his agent, Pat Brisson, is already thinking about.

“We can start talking with Canucks on July 1st. We will cross that bridge when we get there. He is sure building a case as a strong asset. We will see how it goes.” Source

Both Hughes and Pettersson’s next contracts will kick in at the same time, beginning in the 2021-22 season. They have this season and next left with both young players at their entry-level bargain prices before both will command huge raises.

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In the case of Hughes, Thomas Chabot’s eight-year, $64,000,000 deal would be the place to start. Chabot produced 25 points in 63 games as a 21-year-old rookie in 2017-18 and then exploded for 55 points in 70 games the following season. Hughes, as a 20-year-old rookie, is producing at a clip just slightly beneath what Chabot did in his second season.

Finally, we may or may not know the name of Seattle’s future NHL team and the Canucks’ new geographic rival. Seattle was expected to announce their name at All-Star Weekend, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Mayor John Hoven, a Los Angeles Kings blogger, reported on Sirius XM NHL Network Radio that the team would be called the Kraken.

“From everything that I’ve heard, it looks like Seattle Kraken is going to be the name. Which is quite surprising, actually, when I was given that information just a couple of days ago. I was a little bit in shock personally, just because we had been told several times previously that that was not the name that they were going for. It looked like they were leaning toward Sockeyes. And then now, I guess it’s come out that that was a name that’s been used in a book by an author. Maybe it was a fantasy novel, I’m not exactly sure, I haven’t done the research on what the book series was about. But it’s been out there I guess now for about five years or so. Source

Many had expected the team to be called the Sockeyes, but apparently there’s some legal issue around a series of romance novels. The Rain City Bitch Pigeons would never have worked either, unfortunately.