Loui Eriksson

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Eriksson looks to bounce back after ‘tough start’ with Canucks

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The Canucks signed Loui Eriksson last summer, with the hopes he’d help give them a boost in scoring.

It didn’t quite turn out that way — at least not during Eriksson’s first year of a lucrative six-year, $36 million contract with the Canucks.

He scored only 11 times with 24 points in 65 games. The previous season in Boston, he scored 30 goals and 63 points in 82 games, so, yeah, it was a drastic drop in production in one year for the veteran winger, who started the year with a 13-game scoring drought.

“It was a tough start,” said Eriksson, per The Canadian Press. “I had to work uphill through the whole season.”

Read more: Under pressure: Loui Eriksson

That’s a difficult start for any player, but especially for one at the beginning of an expensive new deal in a new market.

“I’m anxious to see Loui. I’m confident that he’ll have a good season. We’ve talked about that … about the transition from Boston to Vancouver,” coach Travis Green said at the start of training camp. “He knows he has to have a better year than he had last year. I think he’s more than capable of it.”

The Canucks were active this summer, too, signing a number of free agents. Again, the hope is the additions they made heading into the new season — Sam GagnerThomas Vanek and Michael Del Zotto among them — could help give them a spark offensively, particularly on the power play.

Eriksson’s season ended in early March because of a lower-body injury. Now he’ll look to rebound from a disappointing season at the age of 32.

Golden Knights score 9 goals, rout Canucks in first preseason game

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It may not have counted in the official standings, but the Vegas Golden Knights hit the ice for a game for the first time on Sunday afternoon and put on quite a show.

The Golden Knights absolutely obliterated the Vancouver Canucks by a 9-4 margin in their first exhibition game thanks to four-goal outbursts in the first and third periods.

Leading the way for the Golden Knights on Sunday was 21-year-old forward Tyler Wong.

Wong not only opened the scoring for the Golden Knights just 4:58 into the game, he added two more goals later in the game to complete the hat trick. He also picked up an assist for a four-point night.

Nick Suzuki, one of three first-round picks by the Golden Knights, also scored in the win.

Both teams used fairly bare bones rosters that were made up mostly of prospects, but Vegas’ young players clearly ended up getting the better of the play with nine goals from six different players and 38 shots on goal.

Vegas didn’t have Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith or David Perron in the lineup, while the Canucks didn’t use Henrik or Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Bo Horvat, Thomas Vanek, or any of the regular defenseman.

The Golden Knights continue their preseason on Tuesday night when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.

They will play their first home preseason game on Tuesday, September 26 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Canucks sign ‘foundational player’ Bo Horvat to six-year, $33 million contract (Updated)

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The Vancouver Canucks and restricted free agent Bo Horvat are closing in on a long-term contract extension, per TSN hockey insiders Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun.

According to LeBrun, the deal will be for six years and it’ll come with an annual average value of $5.5 million ($33 million total).

Update: The Canucks made the announcement official via their Twitter account.

“Bo has quickly become a foundational player on our team and we’re thrilled for him to be a part of what we’re building here long term,” GM Jim Benning said in a release. “His commitment and work ethic have helped his game improve each season. He’s already a leader on our team and a young player fans can be excited to watch for years to come.”

Horvat was the only player on the Canucks’ roster to finish the season with 20 goals. The 22-year-old also led the team in scoring, as he accumulated 52 points in 81 games.

The new contract makes Horvat the fourth-highest paid player on the team behind the Sedins ($7 million each) and Loui Eriksson ($6 million).

“It’s a great feeling to be able to continue my career for six more seasons in Vancouver and I’m grateful to the Aquilini family and Canucks management group for making this possible,” Horvat said. “Since being drafted by the Canucks, I have been welcomed by fans with open arms and I’m incredibly proud and fortunate to call this city and province home. I couldn’t be more excited to help this team win.”

The move means that the Canucks now have 15 forwards under contract for the upcoming season. Vancouver also has over $1.987 million in salary cap space.

Report: Upshall to attend Canucks training camp on PTO

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Scottie Upshall has been searching for his latest NHL opportunity, and it sounds like he’s found one.

According to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, Upshall has accepted a professional tryout from the Vancouver Canucks.

The 33-year-old spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Blues. Last year, he had 10 goals, eight assists and 45 penalty minutes in 73 games.

“There’s a hunger with staying in the NHL and winning a Stanley Cup, helping a team get to the next level. I’ve done that my whole career,” Upshall told the Toronto Sun in August.

“I had a great year last year. It was my best year in five years. I played every game in the playoffs and had a lot of success playing a two-way game and being a penalty killer.”

You’d think that he’d have a decent chance of coming away with a contract on a rebuilding Vancouver team, but the Canucks currently have a lot of forwards on the roster. The Sedin twins, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner, Sam Gagner, Derek Dorsett, Thomas Vanek, Sven Baertschi, Brock Boeser, Markus Granlund, Alexander Burmistrov, Brendan Gaunce, Anton Rodin, Reid Boucher, Michael Chaput and Jayson Megna all already have contracts going into training camp. That list doesn’t even include Bo Horvat, who is a restricted free agent right now.

A lot of those players can be sent to the minors with no cap repercussions, but that’s still a lot of players Upshall will have to beat out just to earn a contract.

Vanek should be able to help Canucks’ dreadful power play

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The Vancouver Canucks added another veteran player to their roster on Friday night when they signed Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $2 million contract.

It is not a move on its own that is going to push the Canucks back into playoff contention on its, but it is fine value in free agency for a veteran forward that still has some ability and could potentially be flipped at the deadline for another prospect or draft pick if the Canucks are out of it. In the short-term one area that he might be able to help the Canucks on the ice is adding a little bit more spark to a power play unit that has been one of the worst in the NHL the past two seasons.

“That’s one of my specialties,” Vanek said, via NHL.com on Friday night, shortly after the signing was announced. “I think I am still very good in front of the net and tipping pucks and reading other players and finding that open space, so it’s definitely in my mindset to come in there and work for that power-play time.”

Since the 2005-06 season only Alex Ovechkin has scored more power play goals than Vanek’s 129. He scored five this past season in only 68 games split between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. That is a pretty far drop from what he used to be able to do during his peak seasons in Buffalo, but keep in mind there were only two Canucks players (Daniel Sedin with six and Loui Eriksson with five) that scored five power play goals this past season.

The Canucks finished with the second-worst power play unit in the league this past season, converting on only 14.1 percent of their chances. Only the Colorado Avalanche (12.6 percent) were worse. In 2015-16 the Canucks were 27th at 15.8 percent. Over the two years combined their 15 percent success rate has been the worst in the NHL. That has helped contribute to a team that has been one of the lowest scoring teams in the league (29th in goals for each year).

Vanek scored 17 goals to go with 31 assists in his 68 games this past season with the Red Wings and Panthers. On a per-game level his production was the highest it had been in four years.