JPat: Canucks banking on Dakota Joshua’s upside with both term and money on four-year extension

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
15 days ago
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At his season-ending media availability, Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin suggested his job would be to be on the look-out for the ‘next’ Dakota Joshua if the hockey club was unable to come to terms with the pending unrestricted free agent power forward. Turns out, Allvin was able to get a deal done with the Dakota Joshua he already had in the fold. 
And by inking the 28-year-old to a four-year/$3.25M per season extension on Thursday morning, the Canucks were able to hold on to one of their biggest, most physical wingers and one of the team’s top penalty killers, too.
Joshua had earned a raise on the $825K dollar deal he signed with the club two years ago when he was looking for an opportunity to prove himself at the National Hockey League level. In two seasons with the Canucks, the 6’3″ 208-pounder has done just that, blossoming into an 18-goal and 32-point producer in 63 regular season games and adding four more goals and eight points in 13 post-season outings. Had he played the entire season, there is no doubt Joshua would have reached the 20-goal mark and may have had an outside shot at being able to push for 25.
Beyond the counting statistics, Joshua brought an element of toughness to the team leading the Canucks and finishing ninth in the NHL with 244 hits in the regular season. He continued to have that presence in the playoffs, where he finished third in the league with 74 hits despite only playing two rounds.
He has also emerged as one of the top penalty killers for Rick Tocchet’s team. Joshua was second among Canucks forwards in short-handed minutes during the season and third in the playoffs.
The next step for Joshua is to find consistency to his game. He had three-point outings and was a force in the opener of both playoff series against Nashville and Edmonton. His production and his effectiveness waned, however, as those series progressed. The Canucks need to work with Joshua to ensure that he can have an impact throughout playoff series rather than just leaving his mark on one or two games.
At his size and with the role he plays, Joshua would have been an attractive commodity on the free agent market on Monday. He likely could have realized more money on an average annual basis had he entertained offers on the open market. But the Canucks were willing to give him the security of four years and a total of $13M to keep him in the fold.
It wasn’t that long ago the Canucks threw $12M over four years at Jay Beagle. That deal didn’t work out. This seems like a far better gamble on the hockey club’s part. Joshua is younger, faster, more physical and has more offensive upside. Is there risk for the Canucks? Sure there is. But there’s also a strong possibility that Joshua continues to grow his game, and at some point, over the course of the contract, he could find himself in a top-six role and as a productive net-front presence on the power play. He certainly has demonstrated a willingness and ability to get to the front of the net and has shown off his soft hands that allow him to make plays in traffic.
With the loss of Elias Lindholm, the Canucks will be looking for the right mix on their third line next season. They saw last year that Teddy Blueger could plug into that role with Joshua and Conor Garland. Blueger has his offensive limitations, however, and the team may be better served to try Pius Suter in that spot. But with all of those players under contract, the Canucks know they have options and won’t have to make that call until training camp. 
With a Joshua extension done and at an affordable price, the Canucks can now turn their attention to finding ways to add to – and improve – the roster. But they’re also hoping to see improvement from within. In Rick Tocchet’s system and with help from a coaching staff that appreciates what he brings to the mix, Dakota Joshua certainly represents a candidate to take his game to the next level. That’s what this deal is banking on.

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