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6 questions facing the Vancouver Canucks this offseason, and our best guess at an answer for each

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Photo credit:Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 month ago
Another offseason, another number of questions facing the Vancouver Canucks.
 
But it’s easy to ask questions. It’s a big part of what we as sports journalists do, but the harder part is providing answers. That’s what NHL general managers are tasked with every offseason. Looking at question marks their team faces, and finding answers.
And hey, the answers they come up with aren’t always right. Canucks fans don’t need any reminder of this, and neither does the team’s current management regime, who will see Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s name on their books for the next decade. But I digress.
Today, we’ll be not only posing six questions facing the Canucks this offseason, we’ll also be giving our best guess at a potential answer to each question!
Who will the Canucks get to play with Elias Pettersson?
According to most Canucks fans, this needs to be the organization’s number one priority this offseason. There were multiple instances this past season where Pettersson was playing with AHL call ups, career fourth liners, and Ilya Mikheyev.
It felt like the odds-on favourite answer to this question was Carolina’s Martin Necas, but the price Carolina may be higher than the Canucks are willing to pay on the trade market. If it’s not Necas, who sure seems to be the Canucks’ Plan A, the Canucks will need to pivot and find a winger for their star centre, whose 8-year, $92.8 million deal will kick in next season.
Pettersson faced plenty of criticism down the stretch after going quiet from February through the playoffs, and even after revealing he was dealing with a knee injury, the criticism still hasn’t fully stopped. The Canucks will surely want to put him in the best position to succeed next season, and that likely starts with going out and finding him a real top six winger he can have as his steady running mate.
Best guess at an Answer: Martin Necas until it’s not.
Will the Canucks get another goalie? 
Now, this one might not really stand out when you think about Canucks offseason needs. Thatcher Demko is a Vezina Trophy finalist and was steady basically anytime he was in net for the Canucks. Arturs Silovs was thrust into the Vancouver goal crease under the bright lights of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and performed admirably, taking the starting job for the Canucks’ run to game seven of the Western Conference semi-final against the now Cup final-bound Edmonton Oilers.
Silovs appears to be the obvious answer for the question of “who should back up Thatcher Demko next season?”, and while that remains the right answer, the team may still want to add a capable third-string goaltender so that they’re not in a bad spot should both Demko and Silovs go down with injuries.
The organization is very high on Nikita Tolopilo, but a cheap veteran backup might still be on the horizon for the Canucks.
Best guess at an answer: Chris Driedger. Once a highly-touted goaltender, Driedger spent the season in the AHL and put up solid numbers. At 30, he may view working with Ian Clark and Marko Torenius as his chance back into the NHL. A one year deal perhaps?
Which of their free agents will the Canucks keep?
The question on everyone’s mind, and the topic that’s going to be talked about perhaps more than any other in the coming weeks as we get set for free agent frenzy on July 1st.
Reports that the Canucks would be willing to sign Elias Lindholm to a 7×7 came out last week and were met with head scratches throughout the fanbase. It doesn’t seem like that will actually happen, as Lindholm can almost certainly get more on the open market if he hits free agency on July 1st. And, as we’ve been saying for a while now, it just doesn’t make much sense for the Canucks to keep Lindholm.
With Nikita Zadorov, the latest is that he’d be willing to take a slight discount to stay in Vancouver, but what does a “discount” really look like? Our guess is that the Canucks and Zadorov’s agent would come up with two different numbers if we posed that question to them. He could very easily be gone after July 1st.
Finally, all the chatter behind the scenes is that Dakota Joshua is going to be a hot commodity when free agency opens. According to a report from Sportsnet’s Satiar Shah, the Detroit Red Wings are extremely high on Joshua, and GM Steve Yzerman would be putting together an offer with an AAV north of $4M if Joshua hits free agency. At that number, the Canucks simply have to walk away.
The sense we’re left with is that the Canucks are prepared to let most of, if not all, of their “big fish” UFAs walk. Teddy Blueger was a good fit and is a fine bottom six player who helped improve the Canucks penalty kill this past season, and Tyler Myers has proven to be a fully capable bottom four defender who is reportedly willing to take a discount to stay in Vancouver.
Best guess at an answer: Teddy Blueger and Tyler Myers.
Will they find the “next Dakota Joshua”?
Speaking of big fish UFAs, let’s not forget how we got here with Dakota Joshua in the first place.
The Canucks signed Joshua to a two year deal with an AAV of $825,000 on July 13, 2022. It was just the first one-way contract of Joshua’s career, and the big-bodied winger thrived in Vancouver. For the first time in his career, Joshua established himself as a regular NHLer, posting 11 goals and 12 assists through 79 games in his first year with the Canucks.
It was this past season where Joshua really blossomed, however, as he became an integral part of the Canucks’ third line and was one of Rick Tocchet’s most trusted penalty killers. Joshua tallied 18 goals and 14 assists through 63 games in 2023-24, and is primed to make a lot of money this offseason, as mentioned above.
But Patrik Allvin already made it clear at his year end availability that his staff may need to focus on finding the next Dakota Joshua. Can they do it? We explored some potential names on a recent episode of Canucks Conversation, and one that really stands out (aside from safe answers like Danton Heinen) is Riley Tufte, a former first round pick who’s been able to find success in the AHL but hasn’t been able to crack the NHL lineup in Dallas and Colorado.
Best guess at an answer: Danton Heinen, but holding out hope for the ultimate project, Riley Tufte.
How will the Canucks round out their defence?
Ian Cole is heading for free agency, and we know he won’t be back. Filip Hronek is an RFA, but nobody really knows where this is headed. As mentioned, Nikita Zadorov is going to get paid a lot of money on his next deal.
What does all this mean? At the timing of this writing, the Canucks have just three NHL defencemen signed for next season: Quinn Hughes, Carson Soucy, and Noah Juulsen.
Juulsen is best suited as a 6/7th defenceman, and Myers — when he re-signs — is going to be a 4/5. This leaves the Canucks with a ton of options when it comes to rounding out their defence. Do they want to go out and get a top four defenceman like Chris Tanev, Brandon Montour, Brett Pesce, or Matt Roy in free agency?
Or will they look to flip a player like Nils Höglander for a defenceman? They have plenty of options, so many that it’s almost impossible to predict which route they’re going to take.
Best guess at an answer: Give me Chris Tanev alongside Quinn Hughes once again.
The penalty kill
Your first question may be: what about the penalty kill? What specific thing? To that, I’d say, take your pick.
Mike Yeo has ran the Canucks’ penalty kill the past two seasons, and after departing for the Ottawa Senators this past offseason, the Canucks have assigned PK duties to Adam Foote, who will run the club’s defence again next year. So there’s one question — how will the “new” coach do at handling the PK?
The other big question is how they will round out their on-ice PK personnel.
Their top six penalty killers by time on ice in the playoffs are all pending unrestricted free agents. In order, Cole, Blueger, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Myers, Nikita Zadorov, and Dakota Joshua led the Canucks in short-handed ice time in the team’s 13 post-season games. All of these players are on expiring contracts.
Blueger and Myers are our best guess at who’s coming back, but even beyond those two players, there is still work to be done. The Canucks have plenty of options and it will certainly be interesting to see what route they take to address all of these questions.
Free agency is just three weeks away, and we’ll keep you up to date on all the rumblings related to the Canucks in the weeks leading up.

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