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Quinn Hughes says he's feeling strong as the Canucks convene for Phase 2

July 2, 2020, 2:05 PM ET [357 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Apparently I buried the lede in the last blog, when I breathlessly announced that Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev were back on the ice as Phase 2 of the return-to-play got underway at Rogers Arena.

Plenty more players also popped up in this video posted by the Canucks on Tuesday:

In addition to Stecher and Tanev, I spotted Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser, Jacob Markstrom, Elias Pettersson, Oscar Fantenberg, Tyler Motte and Tyler Toffoli. Do you see anyone else?

After his first skate, Hughes also did a Zoom call with the media from his quarantine suite at the J.W. Marriott, just around the corner from Rogers Arena.

While Hughes admits that he spent lots of time goofing around with his brothers while he was back home in Michigan, he also says that he thinks the break gave him a good opportunity to rest, re-set, and get stronger for the playoff grind that lies ahead.

"I think the basic for me is using this time to get stronger, and I think I've done a really good job at that," he said. "I feel as strong as I've ever been, so I'm confident. I feel strong and I feel excited and ready to come back here."

"Maybe the four months here is the blessing in disguise for me, because I feel really strong now. I think that I can perform better in the playoffs now than I would have three and a half months ago.

"I remember at the time, it was a long season but at the end of the day I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and I was excited to be able to fight for a chance of playing in the playoffs. If anything, you've had kind of a low right before that and then once you can kind of see that you're getting to the end, then I think you can ramp it back up again."

He also said he was glad to see his teammates — even if it was from a distance.

"It was really nice to see the boys again. I think everyone missed each other.

"It was a fun day today, just to see everyone. Obviously, we had to stay pretty far away from each other. Even in the workout room, we're staying six feet apart. But just to see the guys, it was nice."

I asked Quinn if he'd been following the debate surrounding the Calder Trophy voting over the last couple of weeks, and some of the stumping that his teammates have been doing on his behalf.

"When you're in the season, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it a lot," he admitted. "But now that the season's over, I haven't really thought about it because at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter.

"For me, it was obviously a goal and something I wanted to do and accomplish. If that happens, great, and if it doesn't, I'm great too. There's a lot of great rookies this year and if I do end up winning, that is something I'll cherish and it's a blessing. But if I don't, I can tip my cap."

A Calder win for Quinn would put a few more dollars in his pocket in a rookie season where he has already earned a number of bonuses.

Patrick Johnston of The Province did a great job of laying out what Hughes and Elias Pettersson are receiving on top of their entry-level contract salaries, and how that impacts the Canucks' salary cap for next season.

The short version:

Both Pettersson and Hughes maxed out their Schedule A bonuses, paid by the team, based on their on-ice performance this season. That's $850,000 each, on top of their ELC base salaries.

Hughes also picked up three Schedule B bonuses worth a total of $260,000, which are paid by the league: $110,000 for finishing fifth in points by defensemen, $130,000 for finishing third in assists by defensemen and $20,000 for finishing ninth in points per game by a defenseman.

He'll also get another $212,500 from the league if he wins the Calder, and $150,000 if he finishes second.

There is some good news. According to Johnston, Schedule B bonuses don't count against the cap.

Last year, the Canucks finished out the season with more than $7 million in excess cap space, so Pettersson's bonuses from the 2018-19 season were easily absorbed. But because the Canucks maxed out their cap space this season, the extra $1.7 million earned by Pettersson and Hughes on Schedule A in 2019-20 will be applied to the 2020-21 salary cap.

As the NHL and the Players' Association grind toward reaching the agreement on the return to play and the Collective Bargaining Agreement that they're hoping will soon be put to a player vote, one thing that remains pretty constant in the reporting is that we'll see the salary cap remain flat at $81.5 million for the next couple of seasons.

According to CapFriendly, the Canucks currently have just under $63.5 million committed for next season — to 14 roster players plus Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million, still listed on injured reserve), Sven Baertschi's buried cap hit based on him being in the AHL ($2.29 million), Ryan Spooner's buyout ($1.033 million) and Roberto Luongo's recapture penalty ($3.033 million).

Add on those bonuses, and we're up to $65.2 million that's already committed, which leaves $16.3 left to spend this summer — not just on potentially re-signing UFAs Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev and Tyler Toffoli, but also in getting new deals for RFAs Jake Virtanen, Tyler Motte, Adam Gaudette (technically, a 10.2(c) player, like Brock Boeser was last summer), Zach MacEwen and Troy Stecher.

And yes, Bob McKenzie is confirming on Thursday that with the hit to real cash flow caused by coronavirus, teams have no interest in amnesty buyouts this time around. No get-out-of-jail-free cards for bad contracts.

I'm still not ready to start weighing in on what the Canucks will and won't be able to get done this summer, contract-wise. Agents aren't going to like it, but I can't see how the free-agent market won't be wildly depressed under these conditions. Seventeen of the league's 31 teams finished out last season with less than $1 million in spare cap space, and all seventeen — plus Detroit! — dipped into LTIR at some point in the season.

The Canucks are in a far-from unique situation. And if most teams are limited by what they can do, cap-wise, it's hard to imagine clubs being able to offer big-money deals to top stars — even if they want to.

One other tidbit from McKenzie today — we'll have another four months to ponder these brain-bending questions.

Even if the boys are bored in quarantine when they're not on the ice, I'm assuming they'll be well fed. The Canucks Marketplace is in full swing, and Coach Green is even doing promos about their new $10 discount on orders.

The Canucks have promised that they'll be making players available on Zoom regularly now that they're into Phase 2. Elias Pettersson is the next man up, on Thursday afternoon.

One other announcement on Thursday — to no one's surprise, I'm sure, the Young Stars Tournament that had been scheduled for Penticton in September has now been postponed to an unknown future date...
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