Vancouver Canucks Offseason Transactions: Part 1by Dom Lunardo September 6, 2021 1 comment
The Vancouver Canucks had a disappointing campaign last season as the club failed to make the playoffs in the all-Canadian North division. Multiple COVID-19 outbreaks and a dip in performance from many of their best players greatly contributed to Vancouver’s “down year” in 2020-21.
Heading into October, things are certainly on the rise in Western Canada after a strong offseason from general manager Jim Benning. In our first of a two-part series, let’s further examine the offseason moves from the Canucks. Plus, we’ll take a deep dive into what these moves mean for one of Canada’s most talented teams heading into a brand new campaign.
Jason Dickinson, Center, Age 26
Acquired via free agency
First up on our list is Georgetown, Ontario, native Jason Dickinson. After signing a three-year, $7.95 million contract with Vancouver at the start of the free agency period, Dickinson will be a welcome addition to the Canucks’ forward core. He’s big (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), intelligent in all three zones, and has shown the ability to put points on the board. In addition, Dickinson is a sound defensive centerman who can play on the wing if needed. Last season saw the former first-round pick tally seven goals and 15 points in 51 games played with the Dallas Stars. He also scored two game-winning goals and logged 16:12 worth of ice time.
The acquisition of Dickinson provides the Canucks with excellent depth at the center-ice position heading into next season. If all goes to plan, Dickinson should slot in at the club’s third-line center in front of Brandon Sutter and behind the likes of Elias Pettersson and team captain Bo Horvat. The Dickinson signing is minor but represents a significant upgrade for a Canucks team in major need of a bounce-back season heading into October. This is a win-win for Benning on every front.
Thatcher Demko, Goaltender, Age 25
Re-signed with Vancouver
Next up is Vancouver’s main man between the pipes, Thatcher Demko. After a brilliant performance two seasons ago inside the bubble, Demko continued his strong play last season in Vancouver. His reward? A five-year, $25 million contract extension. It’s safe to say that the Canucks have their starter for the foreseeable future in Demko.
As a goaltender, the San Diego, Calif., native has really come into his own over the past few seasons. Not only can he “carry the ball” as Vancouver’s No. 1, but he also has the technical ability needed in order to succeed in the NHL. He’s athletic, quick to react, and prepares himself adequately to read the game in front of him. From a statistical standpoint, Demko has appeared in 72 regular-season games over the past four seasons, posting a 34-31-5. Add this to a 2.92 goals-against-average and .911 save percentage and the numbers are promising. His sample size is small, but the Canucks’ front office has full confidence in Demko’s ability as a goaltender. He’ll certainly be one to watch out for as the season unfolds in 2021-22.
Conor Garland, Right Wing, Age 25
Acquired via trade from Arizona
Over the past few seasons, Conor Garland has established himself as one of the most underappreciated players in hockey. After flying under the radar for years as a member of the Arizona Coyotes, Garland (finally) gets the opportunity to showcase his talents with the Canucks.
While playing in the desert, the winger from Scituate, Mass., put up three consecutive productive seasons. Over the course of 164 games, Garland scored 47 goals and 96 points on a defensive-minded team in Arizona. He’s a feisty winger, wears his heart on his sleeve, and loves to play the game. In addition, he plays much bigger than his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame would suggest. After coming over in a trade alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Benning wasted little time locking up Garland. He quickly signed him to a five-year, $24.75 million contract extension. Garland provides goal-scoring acumen, a north-south approach, and another special teams option for Vancouver. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out when the puck drops in less than five weeks’ time.
All in all, the Canucks have had a very positive and aggressive summer.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Vancouver’s offseason transactions review, which will be published next week.
Follow Dom Lunardo on Twitter @TapetoTape88
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