NHL Rumours: Vancouver Canucks, and Montreal Canadiens

NHL rumours
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 21: Andrei Markov #79 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 21, 2017 in New York City. The Canadiens defeated the Rangers 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

We’re turning the corner to the end of a hot offseason! There are still plenty of NHL rumours floating around, and Last Word On Hockey is packaging them up right here for your convenience. Pull up a chair and enjoy the latest gossip from around the league. We’re talking Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens.

All NHL Rumours are taken from the original source and subject to change.

NHL Rumours

Vancouver Canucks

Rumour: Our first NHL Rumour comes from Ben Kuzma of the Ottawa Citizen. He speculates that Loui Eriksson‘s future with the Canucks is uncertain at this time.

Analysis: Eriksson has been the center of trade rumours for the majority of the offseason. The concept of him being traded has been dissected numerous times, and realistically the chances of him being moved are slim.

Eriksson’s contract is a point of contention. It’s a hefty deal, and while he may not be worth the $6 million, he’s not exactly useless. He’s a solid fourth-liner. At the end of last year, he was playing alongside Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson. He had chemistry with them, and the line was successful.

If he does stay with the team, he could find himself sitting out most of the season. If the club elects to carry 14 players, he would be an extra forward. Keeping Eriksson means significant changes to their roster.

Options

Tim Schaller would be looking at being sent down to Utica on waivers. Adam Gaudette would join him because he is waiver exempt. There’s also the issue of Antoine Roussel who will be returning in December after recovering from his knee surgery.

Another option would be shipping Eriksson to the AHL to free up some cap space. However, do the Canucks want to pay another player who would not be physically playing for them? Highly unlikely, and fiscally irresponsible.

Eriksson had a down year, without a doubt. After 81 games he only accrued 11 goals and 18 assists. Eriksson had some dry spells last season, including one 15-game scoreless streak and a second 12-game stretch.

However, he’s not exactly useless. He adds value to the team on the fourth line. If he’s surrounded with the right players, Eriksson will produce. Keeping him on the roster isn’t the worst thing the team could do.

NHL Rumours: Vancouver Canucks – Part II

Rumour: Rick Dhaliwal tweeted that Jacob Markstrom’s representative Pat Morris expects that the team will come to terms with him as the starting goalie. 

Analysis: Markstrom is clearly the number-one goalie for the team. He even earned the title of Canucks Most Valued Player after Vancouver fans voted for him at the end of season awards. He had a career-high last season with 28 wins. The Canucks defence wasn’t particularly great last year, and Markstrom ended the season with 1,896 shots against.

The 2019-20 season is Markstrom’s final year of his three-year, $11 million contract. The past two seasons he finished with a .912 save percentage. With the way he’s performing, the club shouldn’t expect him to be any less than dependable. It’s clear Markstrom is engaged and ready to grow as a goaltender.

Another element to the Vancouver drama is the upcoming expansion draft. The club can only protect one goalie. Will the Canucks put all of their eggs in Markstrom’s basket? It’s a hard decision for the organization. They have Thatcher Demko behind Markstrom. As a third element, they also have the coveted netminder prospect Michael DiPietro.

Markstrom is pushing 30. The Canucks may be uneasy signing him to a long-term deal without knowing how high his performance ceiling is. He’s dependable now. But is it possible Vancouver would rather bet on their up-and-coming talents instead? We’ll have to wait and see.

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin stated that Andrei Markov won’t be returning to the team. Montreal wants to focus on the team’s young talent. 

Analysis: Markov and the Canadiens have been buried in confrontation for quite some time. After spending his entire career with the Habs, he asked for a two-year deal. The club wanted to give him just a one-year pact, and he agreed. That is when things turned sour.

Ultimately, Markov walked and signed to the KHL. Now, he’s a free agent and is ready to return to the NHL. There are multiple teams interested in him, but his heart is in Montreal. Unfortunately for him, the club is ready to move on. He will be 41-years-old in December and that could also be a factor.

The talk of a need for a left defenceman in Montreal spread like wildfire. Markov would fit the bill at a reasonable amount. Bergevin is ready to focus on the team’s fresh talent. And Montreal has plenty of it.

The club has fresh raw talent on both sides. The left side boasts Victor Mete, Ben Chiarot, and Brett Kulak. Mike Reilly is an extra option for the Habs. The right side is lined with Shea WeberJeff PetryNoah JuulsenChristian Folin is always another option for the right side. Josh Brook and Cale Fleury could battle for a roster spot. Brook suited up for Canadas World Junior team last year after an excellent junior season. Fleury had an exemplary season in the AHL playing for Laval. Brook might be a better option for the team since he can play the left side also.

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