We're three days away from the beginning of the Vancouver Canucks' 2021 training camp. And for the first time since March of 2020, fans will get the opportunity to be in the building to see players when camp opens on Thursday at the Abbotsford Centre, which will be operating at 50 percent of capacity.
Tickets are now on sale for the three camp sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at $5.50 each, as well as for the Canucks' second preseason game — next Monday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. PT against the Calgary Flames, also in Abbotsford.
Reporter Ben Lypka of the Abbotsford News
has been doing an excellent job of keeping us informed of what's up in the Fraser Valley. He's well worth a follow if you do the Twitter thing.
Rookie camp continued over the weekend and will wrap up on Monday, but those sessions were not open to media. Our only glimpses inside Rogers Arena from the last couple of days have been the photos and brief videos that have been posted on the Canucks social channels.
I was curious about the status of centre Carson Focht, who started the session on Friday but disappeared partway through. But wearing No. 45 in white, I spy him in the front row of this video, which was apparently shot on Sunday. So I guess he's OK.
While this year's Canucks group would have been too small for the team to even consider icing a squad for a prospect tournament, I did get some FOMO this weekend while keeping an eye on the other rookie games taking place around the league.
On Friday, Ryan Johnson mentioned that one benefit of skipping competitive games is that it ensures the rookies aren't already worn out by the time main camp begins. Also, the injury factor is real. I watched the home-and-home between the Flyers and Rangers this weekend, and both sides lost multiple players over the two games. At the five-team tournament in Traverse City, Red Wings prospect Jared McIsaac lost consciousness and was taken to hospital on Sunday, after being hit hard into the boards by 18-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets prospect James Malatesta.
At this point, as far as we know, all Canucks players and prospects are healthy as they head into camp.
And speaking of glimpses on social, I got hopeful on Saturday when I saw that Elias Pettersson posted a photo on his Instagram Story that was taken in traffic heading northbound on the Burrard St. Bridge.
I took this to mean that he is in town — and, hopefully, that a contract announcement would be forthcoming quite soon. But as of Monday morning, there's nothing yet.
Over the weekend, four more RFAs around the league did put pen to paper. But the highest cap hit of the four was Nolan Patrick, now of Vegas, at $1.2 million per season. The other three deals that got done were Kailer Yamamoto of Edmonton ($1.175 million), Logan Brown of Ottawa ($750,000) and Zach Senyshyn of Boston (also $750,000).
That leaves eight players on CapFriendly's
list of unsigned RFAs. There has been some talk that Pettersson's reps would like to see what Kirill Kaprisov gets before they finalize the deal for their client. Brady Tkachuk is also an interesting comparable at forward. And I wonder if Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry are side-eying Rasmus Dahlin's situation in Buffalo before locking in Quinn Hughes?
Jack Hughes was one of the guests on Sportsnet's '31 Thoughts' podcast this weekend. He had a few interesting things to say about his brother.
For starters, Jack is adamant that Quinn needs to get his deal done, because he needs to play. If that's his attitude, I'd assume it mirrors the rest of the family. I've never really been worried, but that's another sign that he'll be on the ice sooner than later.
Jack also revealed that he and Quinn bought a house together in Michigan, and have spent the entire offseason as roommates. And after gushing about how excited he is to have the opportunity to soon have his younger brother Luke by his side as a teammate with the New Jersey Devils, Jack laughed as he said he has already started recruiting Quinn to join them as well.
It was said in a joking manner, but it's clear just how close these three brothers are. I've never been *that* worried about Quinn wanting to become a Devil, but Jack put a bit of doubt into my mind.
I do expect that when the deals are done for Hughes and Pettersson, we'll see them announced at the same time. The Canucks will need to consider their cap space as a whole when finalizing those contracts. And, as Vantel pointed out in the comments this weekend, even if Hughes is closer to agreeing to terms than Pettersson is, the Canucks could still put themselves at risk of a predatory offer sheet if they commit to Quinn's money and further diminish their current cap space.
One player who is adamant that he hasn't asked out and is committed to the Canucks is J.T. Miller, who was full of fire as usual when he spoke to Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet in a recent interview.
If you want to affirm the idea that Hughes' tougher season in 2020-21 was caused by the all-round rotten year that the Canucks had as a whole, Miller's year-over-year performance is a good place to start. MacIntyre does a good job of breaking down just how tough things got for J.T. last year — even while he still finished second in team scoring and third overall in ice time, tops among the forwards.
Miller is a good player who had a bad year — and he has plenty of fire in his belly to put last season behind him. That's great to hear.