JPat’s Monday Canucks Mailbag: A Boeser extension, trading Lindholm’s rights, plans for Willander, and more

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Jeff Paterson
25 days ago
Welcome to Monday. Sure, the Stanley Cup Final is still going on, but more important in these parts is the fact the hockey world is now just two weeks away from the National Hockey League free agent window opening. That’s right, just 14 more sleeps now until the framework of the 2024-25 Vancouver Canucks roster will be in place. Sure, there will be a few tweaks between July 1st and opening night, but the point is we’re not far from knowing – and seeing – what management has up its sleeve in terms of building around the core that is already in place. To help pass the time, we offer up the Monday Mailbag, where we try to answer burning questions from you, the loyal reader. So let’s dive in:
Based on their last outing, I’d say nothing – absolutely nothing. But if we look at the Florida team that still holds a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, I’d say out of this world goaltending for a two month run, good health across the board for a prolonged period of time, star players playing at a consistently high level throughout the post-season and a few depth players levelling up to do more offensively than they did during the regular season. It sounds simple, but if it were easy, every team would do it. Sure, the Panthers looked out of sorts on Saturday night, but they’re still in an enviable position to lay claim to the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
I waffle on this one depending on the day of the week. Boeser has one year remaining on a deal that will pay him $6.65M and then he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. The Canucks could talk extension starting on July 1st, but I’d suggest they not rush into anything despite Boeser scoring a career-best 40-goals last season and a team-high seven more in the playoffs. The club has just come through two seasons where it couldn’t find a taker for what seemed for the longest time like a bloated contract. I think it would make sense for the Canucks to let next season unfold before discussing a long-term plan for Boeser who turns 28 in Feburary. To answer the question, yes, ultimately I think the club will re-sign its best winger. But I’d like to see Boeser get off to another strong start before rushing into anything. If he scores like he did last season, it may drive the cost up. But I’d be more inclined to get a deal done if he proves last season was more than just a perfect storm of goal-scoring. I’m not sure Boeser will back-up his 40-goal campaign with another, but I think 30-35 goals through his prime years should be the expectation. 
It would be great if the Canucks could recoup something for Elias Lindholm if they know they won’t be able to bring him back. But I don’t know how many teams would be willing to part with an asset just to get a few weeks to negotiate with the pending unrestricted free agent. He’ll be in demand if he hits the open market, but to this point there have been no rumblings of any potential suitors looking to get a jump on exclusive negotiating rights. I’m going to say in the end Lindholm will leave town and the Canucks will have nothing to show for his time here other than some solid playoff memories. As for the second part, the Canucks won’t be able to attach Mikheyev’s contract to Lindholm’s rights. Nice thought, but it doesn’t work like that.
Can you really ever plan for a surprise? By definition, doesn’t a surprise require you to be caught off guard to some degree? If you’re asking if I am anticipating the Canucks doing something unforeseen, I am not. I think they’ll be interested observers during the first two rounds of the draft before finally participating in Round 3. They may need a wake-up call at their table after watching the proceedings for hours and hours. As for free agency, I expect them to be fully engaged. But I don’t see this front office doing anything that I’d consider a huge surprise. They’ll have money to spend and I see them spending it as wisely as they can on July 1st to improve the areas of the hockey team that require upgrading. I certainly hope the draft and free agency are more fun than blah meh.
At this point, I am prepared for Tom Willander to return to Boston University for a second season. He should have added opportunities and responsibilities as a returning blueliner in a strong BU program. Like almost all teenage defencemen, last year’s first round selection needs to continue to get stronger to be ready to potentially turn pro a year from now. I look forward to seeing him at Canucks development camp next month, but with the school year starting in September, he’s unlikely to be a participant at main camp in the fall. And if he’s not at training camp, he’s not making the hockey club.
This answer is going to require a few dominos to fall into place in the next few weeks to come to fruition. But I’ll say Tij Iginla playing for the Calgary Flames. Now the Flames would have to draft him for this to play out. But with the bloodlines, it’s hard to imagine Calgary missing out on the opportunity if it presents itself. A Kelowna Rocket returning to the Okanagan to represent the team his father did for so many years would make for a few great storylines. So let’s see how things play out at the top of the draft and we’ll have an answer on June 28th.
I like this one to finish. I’m going to put Jeff Carter at the top of the list. Two Stanley Cups, an Olympic gold medal, 1321 NHL games and 133 more in the playoffs. A big, strong two-way forward who was a handful to play against for the better part of two decades. He has set the benchmark for all players named Jeff or Geoff. His accomplishments will stand the test of time for anyone in this particular category of players.
Jeff Beukeboom won three Stanley Cup championships – two with the Edmonton Oilers (1988 & 1990) and then one with the New York Rangers (1994). Three times the hard-nosed defenceman reached the 200 penalty minute mark topping out at 220 in 1995-96. 
Geoff Sanderson made an early splash with a 89-point season as a 20-year-old in Hartford. The product of Hay River, NWT reached the 30-goal mark on six occasions with a career-high of 46 in 1992-93. Twice Sanderson played for the Canucks — but only appeared in a grand total of 22 games.
Jeff Skinner’s remarkable consistency earns him a spot on the list. Incredibly he has had four separate 63 point seasons during his career. His best season came two years ago when he produced an 82 point campaign in Buffalo. However, Skinner is likely best known as a guy that has played 1006 regular season games but has never set foot on the ice in a Stanley Cup Playoff game in his 14 year NHL career.
Geoff Courtnall had 77 and 70 point seasons in Vancouver and was a huge part of the Canucks run to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. His best NHL season came in his one full year in Washington when he scored 42 goals and produced 80 points. He won a Cup with Edmonton in 1990. And — fun fact — his middle name is Lawson.
All-time Canucks named Jeff/Geoff: Sanderson, Courtnall, Jeff Brown, Jeff Tambellini & Jeff Cowan. The Stanchion would never talk to me again if I left the Brabarian off the list.
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