Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford held a press conference with the media on Monday with a host of topics on the table. Embroiled in a rough 2022-23 season on the ice, the Canucks have also come under scrutiny with a couple of off-ice subjects of late. Noting that Bruce Boudreau is the team’s head coach for now and doesn’t know that he wants to make a change, he did admit that he has ‘called a few people’ when asked about replacements.
Let’s recap what the top dog in the organization had to say Monday.
Canucks ‘Comfortable’ With Handling of Pearson Injury
The latest Canucks controversy surrounds the handling of a hand injury to veteran forward Tanner Pearson after defenseman Quinn Hughes recently stated the injury “was not handled right”. Pearson originally suffered a broken hand in a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 9 and was handed a four-to-six-week timeline for a return. However, multiple setbacks have occurred in the meantime while a second procedure on the hand ended his season on Jan. 12.
CHEK’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported that Pearson may need further procedures on the hand and his 2023-24 season could be in jeopardy as a result.
On Monday, Canucks team head physician Dr. William Regan backed the team that took care of Pearson’s hand injury.
“I will tell you that in this case, the surgeons involved in the care of Tanner Pearson have had many years of experience and are internationally known. On a personal note, I’d have any of the surgeons involved in his care operate on any one of my family members with no hesitation. Having said that, in Tanner’s case, there have been two setbacks stalling his recovery.”
Pearson managed just one goal and five points across 14 games this season.
Canucks ‘In a Pickle’ on Horvat Contract
Contract negotiations with captain Bo Horvat have been at the forefront of Canucks headlines throughout the season. To the dismay of Canucks fans, Rutherford didn’t sound optimistic about locking up the nine-year veteran to a long-term deal.
“I believe we’ve taken our best shot. The contract we have on the table for Bo right now is fair value for what he’s done up to this year,” Rutherford said. “It’s certainly under market value for what he’s done this year so we’re in a pickle here. He’s had a career year, and he’s looking for his money. He deserves it. I don’t blame him.”
It’s the career year that’s likely priced Horvat out of Vancouver. The 27-year-old has tallied 30 goals and 48 points across 43 games while averaging 20:49 of ice time in all situations for the Canucks. One of the top two-way pivots in the league, he’s also dominating the faceoff dot to the tune of a 55.9% winning percentage.
Rutherford insisted on a re-tool rather than a rebuild moving forward for his organization, and dealing Horvat prior to the March 3 NHL trade deadline could go a long way in accomplishing that feat.
Rutherford ‘Disappointed’ in Job Done So Far
The Canucks fell into a steep hole with a disastrous start to their season and despite the minor rebound that followed, the club should become a notable seller come trade deadline day.
At 18-22-3 through 43 games, the Canucks sit 12 points back of the rival Edmonton Oilers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference while their .453 points percentage sits 26th league-wide. While the playoffs are a pipe dream, a more realistic scenario is a continued downward spiral toward the bottom of the league and an increased shot of landing general talent Connor Bedard with the first pick of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
Rutherford admitted Monday that if there was a year top bottom out for the top pick it would be this year, however, he anticipates his team playing their best every night. He also admitted that some core players might not end up staying with the club. Brock Boeser is another significant Canucks forward who could be on the move in the midst of a turbulent season that nearly saw him healthy scratched on Hockey Fights Cancer night in Vancouver. Boeser’s father passed away from cancer last season.
Certainly, the Canucks are a team to watch as we proceed toward the March 3 NHL trade deadline.
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