Thu. May 30th, 2024

In this edition of the Vancouver Canucks News & Rumors, a Conor Garland trade isn’t likely for the time being. Also, Andrei Kuzmenko bounces back after struggling to start the season. Meanwhile, head coach Rick Tocchet has noticed Tyler Myers’ poor play. 

Difficult Time for Canucks to Trade Garland

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said trading Garland is difficult at the time as teams don’t have a lot of cap room to work with and are stuck. He adds he can see the Washington Capitals as a team to keep an eye on, but they are trying to move Anthony Mantha, and a deal involving the forward for Garland doesn’t work. 

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Garland’s agent received permission to look for a trade before the season started, and a few teams have shown interest, including the Capitals. However, there is some good news for the Canucks for now. With Garland still on the team, it gives them time to see what they have, as they can play out a few games before potentially moving forward.

Kuzmenko Responds to Slow Start

In the Canucks first four games, Kuzmenko seemed to struggle, posting a goal and an assist. Before the Canucks’ 5-3 win over the Panthers, Tocchet commented on Kuzmenko’s slow start.

“I think he’s struggling,” Tocchet said.

“He’s confused on certain things. The biggest thing is if he moves his feet and stays closer to his teammates, he’ll get out of this.”

Andrei Kuzmenko, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The head coach suggested Ilya Mikheyev’s return would help him, and it did exactly that. Kuzmenko assisted the team’s third goal from Elias Pettersson, then scored the game-winner for his second of the season.

“Yes, it is good feeling after this game,” Kuzmenko said. “I like this, very important game. We need to win. Today, I like that Mik (Mikheyev) come back. I love this guy, he’s a big help for me. I have a lot of talk with Mik in life, and in the game he’s a big help. He’s a good friend.”

Kuzy generated multiple scoring opportunities during the game, including two chances for Mikheyev. Tocchet added Kuzmenko overthinks the system sometimes, and it hurts his game.

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 “I told Sergei (Gonchar) today, ‘Just tell him to play to our staples.’ The system is the system, but sometimes, as a player — high-end guy that wants the puck and stuff — he thinks the system too much, and you don’t skate as much.

“He went to the net with a vengeance tonight. He was in front battling. Those are the things we’re looking for. The system stuff will come. I think sometimes he overthinks it. His effort, that’s the Kuzie we know. If he has effort like that, I mean, he’s a dominant player.”

Tocchet Noticed Myers’ Play

Myers is another player who had a tough start to the 2023-24 season. In the team’s first loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the blueliner’s game fell apart, as did the team’s structure. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he made two poor plays on two of the four goals the Canucks gave up.

His poor play is something Tocchet has noticed as the veteran defenceman’s time on ice has dropped over the past few games. He played 19:38 against the Edmonton Oilers in the second game of the season. His ice time dipped to 17:47 against the Flyers, then to 15:58 against the Lightning, and finally, 13:06 against the Panthers. If Myers continues to struggle, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is a healthy scratch sometime in the near future.

Sportsnet released an interview between Friedman and Elias Pettersson from this past offseason. The forward discussed multiple topics, from winning to personal accomplishments to his next contract.

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Pettersson said he feels euphoric when he looks back at winning the Swedish Hockey League championship with the Vaxjo Lakers in 2018. He added he was emotional watching Lionel Messi win the World Cup with Argentina in 2022 and drew inspiration from it. The Swede said he plays to win, and Friedman later said the factor of winning in a city like Vancouver, where it matters to win a Stanley Cup, is something the Canucks have on their side in contract negotiations.

Pettersson also added that he isn’t in a rush to sign as he is headed into the biggest contract of his career so far. He also said he has a goal to once again reach the 100-point mark for the second season in a row and surpass the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career. Pettersson said he needs to be a little more selfish and shoot the puck. He set a career-high of 39 goals and 102 points last season. He has two goals and 10 points through five games, which puts him on pace to surpass the 100-point mark, but he will need to start scoring more goals to be on pace for 50.

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