The 2018-19 season is over for the Vancouver Canucks, but that only means the work is just beginning for next season. While the players, coaches, and management will have a little bit of downtime, it won’t last long.
This is an extremely important off-season for the Canucks, who have now missed the playoffs in four-straight seasons and need to transition from rebuilding to contending. So let’s look towards the 2019 off-season and see what lies ahead for the Canucks.
May 10 - 26 | 2019 World Hockey Championships
Two Canucks have confirmed they will be representing their country at the World Championships in Slovakia, with a couple others potentially going as well.
Quinn Hughes will make his second appearance at the tournament for Team USA, while Jacob Markstrom will be the likely starter for Sweden in his third tournament. Elias Pettersson is also expected to play for Sweden, but that has yet to be confirmed. Hopefully he can avoid breaking his thumb this year.
Thatcher Demko is a possibility for Team USA and told reporters this week that he was interested in going. Loui Eriksson and Markus Granlund are also possibilities for Sweden and Finland, while Chris Tanev’s timeline for his recovery from injury will likely keep him out of the tournament for Canada.
Brock Boeser has said he won’t go, as he’s looking forward to a proper off-season after his back injury prevented that last year. Bo Horvat won’t go either, but for personal reasons — “He’s getting married!” interjected Boeser as Horvat tried to keep the reason vague at the end-of-year media availability..
Sven Baertschi is unlikely for Switzerland after his long concussion recovery this season and Nikolay Goldobin is unlikely for Russia, instead focusing on his off-season training.
May 17 - 26 | 2019 Memorial Cup
If all goes well, Canucks goaltending prospect Michael DiPietro will be competing for his second Memorial Cup. So far, the Ottawa 67’s have swept through the first two rounds of the OHL playoffs and are the favourites to win the OHL championship and head to the Memorial Cup.
DiPietro was named the Most Outstanding Goaltender at the 2017 Memorial Cup and will look for a repeat performance this year.
May 27 - June 1 | NHL Scouting Combine
Since the Canucks are picking 10th overall at the 2019 NHL Draft instead of in the top-two where the decisions are a little more clear--cut, they could go multiple different ways with their pick. They have to get this pick right and part of that process will be the scouting combine, where the top prospects for the upcoming draft will go through a series of fitness tests and meet with management teams for interviews.
June 1 | Deadline for signing unsigned draft picks
Teams have two years to sign North American draft picks and four years to sign European draft picks, with an exception for draft picks that choose the college route.
This doesn’t affect the Canucks that much. Matt Brassard is the lone North American that fits this description and it’s already been made clear the Canucks won’t offer him a contract. There’s also Dmitry Zhukenov, but if he re-signs in the KHL, the Canucks will still retain his rights until he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
June TBA | NHL Awards
While the date of the event has yet to be announced, the NHL Awards should be a highlight for Canucks fans, as Elias Pettersson is the odds-on favourite to win the Calder as the rookie of the year, no matter what Don Cherry might say.
June 20 | NHL General Managers meeting in Vancouver
Prior to the draft, the NHL’s GMs will meet in Vancouver. This can be the source of trade discussions as GMs hobknob throughout the day, but is mainly where GMs discuss proposed rule changes and other tweaks to the game.
June 21 - 22 | NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver
The 2019 NHL Entry Draft will kick off the 50th Anniversary celebrations for the Canucks. While the Canucks may not have the top pick in the draft, they still have a top-10 pick, if only just barely. As it stands, they hold nine picks, having picked up a pair of 6th-round picks in the Anders Nilsson trade and by trading down at the 2018 draft.
Will the Canucks make any more trades to acquire more picks in front of their hometown fans? Will they look to make a big splash? Will Gary Bettman get boisterously booed when he takes the stage?
Okay, that last one is a gimme.
June 24 - June 30 | Teams can meet with pending UFAs
A few years ago, the NHL introduced the “interview period” prior to the opening of free agency. Technically, teams and agents can’t hammer out the details for a contract during this time, but they can gauge each others’ interest and get a general idea of what type of contract a team might be willing to offer.
It’s good for the teams, as they can make their pitch to a player without any rush, while it’s good for the players, as they can figure out just how many teams have a real interest and get a general idea of which team might offer them the best contract.
The Canucks have expressed an interest in signing a top-six forward and upgrading on defence: this interview period will give Benning and co. the opportunity to sell pending UFAs on their vision for the future.
June 25 | Deadline for qualifying RFAs
In order to retain negotiation rights for restricted free agents, teams must extend a qualifying offer, which is a one-year contract that must be equal to or greater than their current contract. Cap Friendly has all the details on exactly how much the offer needs to be.
The Canucks have 13 pending RFAs and will need to make some tough decisions prior to the June 25th deadline. Will they qualify Derrick Pouliot? What about Reid Boucher and Brendan Gaunce, who spent almost the entire season in the AHL?
July TBA | Canucks prospect development camp
The Canucks’ annual prospect development camp is normally sometime in early July. It normally features open practices for fans to attend, as well as a prospects game. It will be the first chance for fans to see the Canucks’ new draft picks in game action, as well as other Canucks prospects that fans haven’t had a chance to see during the year.
July 1 | Free agency opens
The free agent frenzy begins on Canada Day. It tends to be a little less frenzied than before thanks to the interview week leading up to it, but a lot of big signings still take place on July 1st.
Free agency can lead to some big wins — the Leafs have to be happy with John Tavares, who scored 47 goals for them this season — but it can also be the source of a GM’s biggest mistakes and regrets. Jim Benning will look to navigate those treacherous waters in hopes of finding the right players to support his young core.
July 5 | Deadline for player-elected arbitration
Some of the Canucks’ restricted free agents are eligible for salary arbitration: Ben Hutton, Derrick Pouliot, Markus Granlund, Tyler Motte, Josh Leivo, Brendan Gaunce, and Reid Boucher.
Many of those players will sign their qualifying offers, while others will negotiate contracts outside of their qualifying offers, but some might file for arbitration. Even if they do so, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually go to an arbitration hearing, as most players end up signing before that occurs.
For instance, Troy Stecher filed for arbitration last year, but signed his new contract about a week before his hearing.
July 20 - August 4 | Arbitration hearings
If any of the above players do file for arbitration and their case does go before an arbitrator, those hearings will take place between July 20th and August 4th.
September TBA | Canucks rookie camp, then training camp open for the 2019-20 season
Nope, too soon.