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Photo Credit: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Boeser’s deal, trading the 15th overall pick, and more: 7 predictions for the Vancouver Canucks’ offseason

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has officially concluded, which, as it so often unfortunately does, that the Vancouver Canucks are in full swing on their offseason.

They’ve already locked down head coach Bruce Boudreau for next season, and while we’re slightly bitter about that because the first draft of this piece featured “Canucks extend Boudreau” as one of the more surefire predictions, we’ve still got plenty of projections for what moves the club may execute this offseason.

So without further ado, here are seven predictions for the Vancouver Canucks’ offseason.

Canucks navigate Boeser’s qualifying offer by extending him for three years

First up, what many believe to be the Canucks’ most pressing order of business: Brock Boeser’s contract.

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In a recent interview on the DFO Rundown Podcast, president Jim Rutherford made it clear that the Canucks certainly haven’t closed the door on issuing Brock Boeser his qualifying offer if an extension can’t be reached beforehand.

“Yeah, there’s that possibility,” said Rutherford when asked if the club would consider extending Boeser a $7.5 million qualifying offer. “That will be step one, we can fit his qualifying offer in next year, it’s not like we’re squeezed, that we can’t fit this $7.5 million in on a one-year deal. It would seem to me that it would make sense with him being as young as he is at 25 to do a deal with a little bit of term on it, but maybe not that big long-term deal because if you get a two or three year deal, he’s still pretty young to get his long term deal.”

“From our point of view, he’s still team-controlled following that,” added Rutherford about the idea of Boeser accepting the qualifying offer and returning on a one-year deal. “We’re pretty open to anything at this point in time.”

As we broke down about a month ago, club-elected arbitration is an option the Canucks may explore in lieu of issuing Boeser his hefty qualifying offer, but its not believed that they’re considering that route at this time.

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As such, for our first prediction, we’re saying that while the Canucks may issue Boeser a qualifying offer first, they’ll eventually come to an agreement on a two or three-year deal with him.

More specifically, we’re predicting Boeser’s contract comes in at three years, $6 million annually.

Canucks extend Bo Horvat this offseason

Speaking of extensions, here’s one that many think the Canucks would like to get done this offseason. Rumours towards the end of the season suggested that the Canucks would be prioritizing getting at least one of Miller or Horvat signed.

And as you’ll read in a later prediction, we’re predicting Horvat is the player the club chooses to extend, if they extend one of these players this offseason.

Centres who can score 30 goals while facing tough matchups are tough to find, and what Horvat brings to this organization off the ice is certainly valued by the organization as well.

Quite simply, he’s not going anywhere.

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The organization could choose to wait until next season to get Horvat’s contract done, but if their captain hits 30 again next season or raises his overall point total by tallying a few more assists, his next contract could get ugly.

As for a projection on the exact contract, market comparables for the 30-goal scorer Horvat likely start around $7 million and only go up from there.

We assume the Canucks go long-term in locking up their captain, and that Horvat’s next deal comes in at six years at $7 million.

Canucks lose out on Kuzemnko sweepstakes

Despite being among the final teams vying for KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko’s services, we don’t love the Canucks chances.

Allow us to explain.

At the age of 26, Kuzmenko is only eligible to sign a one-year entry-level contract, meaning his maximum cap hit is $925,000.

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That means that Kuzmenko is going to select a team almost solely based on the opportunity he has with that club.

More specifically, on the opportunity he has to put up a ton of points and cash in on his second NHL contract, not dissimilar to how Artemi Panarin broke into the league with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Which leads to our main point, and that’s the opportunity Kuzmenko will get if he signs with another team who are among the finalists to land him: The Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton has the luxury of essentially guaranteeing to Kuzmenko and his camp that he’ll get the opportunity to play on a line with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, not to mention log loads of first power play unit time.

The Canucks have a bit more of a complicated situation, and can’t really guarantee Kuzmenko top six time in the same way Edmonton can.

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But hey, who knows? Maybe the prospect of playing with Vasily Podkolzin once again is appealing enough for Kuzmenko to sign with Vancouver.

After all, there are whispers around the industry that the Canucks are currently viewed by many as the favourite to land Kuzmenko’s services.

Canucks recoup a second-round pick

If there’s one thing this new management regime has made clear — and there are many to choose from — it’s that they’d like to have more draft picks.

The Benning-led Canucks dealt their second-round pick in this year’s draft, along with Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, the ninth overall pick in the 2021 Draft, and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft, in exchange for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.

That means the Canucks don’t currently have a second-round pick, and we’re predicting that they’d like to change that. But we’re about to take this next prediction to a whole new level of spice.

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Canucks don’t select 15th overall

Whether they trade up (New Jersey’s second overall pick is reportedly in play) or down, we’re predicting the Canucks make some sort of move that results in them not taking the stage in Montreal to select 15th overall on July 7th.

If the Canucks trade down, it’s almost a guarantee that the club would be acquiring another pick as a result, perhaps even a second-round pick depending on how far down they trade.

The Canucks feel confident in their scouting staff and with a rather bare prospect pool, adding two prospects instead of one may be what the club views as their best course of action.

If the Canucks don’t draft at 15th, it’s likely because they’ve moved down, not up, but could you imagine the draft day chaos?

In this week’s Monday Mailbag, Faber broke down some options of who the Canucks could be interested in selecting if they did choose to trade down.

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Canucks reunite with an old friend to add RD depth

If we’re being honest, the Canucks likely never should have gotten rid of Troy Stecher in the first place, but his play in the playoffs with the L.A. Kings has made that even more apparent than ever.

If Stecher, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, wants to come back to his hometown team and reunite with his old Canucks teammates — who he’s still very close with — then the Canucks would be downright foolish not to at least entertain the idea.

For a team that wants to play with more structure and improve their breakouts, Stecher makes a ton of sense when it comes to adding some depth to the right side of the Canucks’ blue line, an area where they’re a bit weak at the moment.

With Tucker Poolman’s future still a bit up in the air — remember, he was on LTIR when the season concluded with recurring mysterious migraines and headaches — the Canucks would certainly like to shore up their depth on right defence, and with a new management regime who he’s never felt wronged by in power now, Stecher may be looking for a reunion at a low — perhaps even buriable — contract that just makes sense for both parties.

That is, of course, if the Kings don’t try to re-sign their leading playoff point-producing defenceman this offseason.

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Canucks trade J.T. Miller at the draft, or sometime this offseason

Just three years after they traded for him at the draft, we’re predicting that the Canucks will move on from J.T. Miller at the draft in Montreal come July, or shortly thereafter.

The Canucks can’t officially start negotiating a contract extension with Miller until July 13th, but they’ve likely already a got a pretty good idea of where Miller’s camp will be coming in at, as Mika Zibanejad and even Tomas Hertl to some extent serve as somewhat obvious comparables that will be used at the negotiating table.

The Canucks may choose to wait until after the draft to deal Miller for that very reason, but a draft-day deal is certainly still a possibility.

Among the things the Canucks’ new regime has made clear is that they will exercise a similar process with Miller as they did with Tyler Motte at this year’s Trade Deadline.

If the two sides are going to be too far apart to come to terms on a contract, the Canucks are going to make the non-emotional decision to move on from an expiring asset and get what they can for him.

In an interview earlier this month, Rutherford joined Canucks Central on Sportsnet 650 and spoke about Miller and the contract negotiations that would take place.

“When you sign a player in their 30s, and you’re put in a position where you have to sign them long term, what you have to weigh in that decision is how much that player is going to give you in the first three years compared to the last three years,” Rutherford said. “You know at some point in time there’s going to be a decline in the player’s play. But does he give you that much more in the first three years that offsets the last three years?”

“Players like [Miller] are hard to find, that can put up points, and they’re strong and they’re physical, and things like that. But we’re going to negotiate with his agent this offseason and we’re going to negotiate in a way that works for the Canucks not only for now, but long term, and if both sides can come to an agreement, then J.T. Miller will be here long term. If the numbers get out of whack, then we have to make a non-emotional decision and make a tough decision that won’t be popular with anybody, and try to get assets that are going to help this franchise long term.”

Further to this, Rutherford added in his interview on the DFO Rundown Podcast that the club would “have a pretty good idea” of where things stand in their efforts to get Miller extended.

If talks don’t go particularly well, expect to see Miller moved on draft day or in the weeks that follow.

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