Erik Gudbranson

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Canucks sign Erik Gudbranson to three-year extension


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The wondering can now stop as the Vancouver Canucks have extended defenseman Erik Gudbranson for three more years.

The extension is worth $12 million and Gudbranson’s deal will carry a $4 million cap hit through the end of the 2020-21 NHL season.

“Erik is an important part of our team and provides a physical element to our blueline,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning in a statement. “His leadership qualities help us as we continue to integrate younger players in our lineup. He is a quality person, a great teammate, outstanding in the community and we are excited to have him as part of our team moving forward.”

It was two years ago that Benning, who inked an extension with the Canucks last week, traded Jared McCann and a pair of 2016 draft picks to the Florida Panthers for the defenseman. With the direction that the team is currently moving, and with the Boston Bruins coughing up a third-round pick for Nick Holden of the New York Rangers on Tuesday, couldn’t Benning have flipped Gudbranson for something similar before moving on to a Thomas Vanek trade before Monday’s trade deadline?

The Canucks are currently a weird mix of youth and veterans with big contracts, especially at forward — contracts that last beyond next season. They have all but one of their picks in the next three drafts at the moment, and should at least recoup one with a Vanek trade.

This extension is Benning digging his feet in and standing by a bad deal from two years ago. As Dimitri Filipovic of Sportsnet pointed out last week, flipping Gudbranson, whose minutes and possession numbers have dipped in Year 2 in Vancouver, would be the GM waiving the white towel and saying he lost the trade. Now he gets to stand by it and throw platitudes at the defenseman to convince himself that this was the correct way to go.

The one beneficial part of the Gudbranson deal for the Canucks? The lack of a no-trade clause, as per TSN’s Bob McKenzie. NHL GMs love themselves big defensemen and at 6-foot-6, 220 lbs., the 26-year-old checks that box. So there is a chance to pass this contract onto another team looking to add size to their blue line. But for now, that’s clearly not the plan for the Canucks.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Gudbranson suspended one game for boarding Vatrano


Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson will miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres after he was suspended one game for boarding Frank Vatrano of the Boston Bruins.

The hit occurred early in the first period during Thursday’s 6-3 Bruins victory. Gudbranson was given a majors for boarding and fighting, along with a game misconduct. The Bruins would take advantage with three power play goals. Vatrano would retun to the game later in the period.

Here’s the Department of Player Safety’s explanation:

Look at many of the suspensions the NHL’s DoPS has handed out for boarding and it’s the same thing over and over again. The suspended player has time to make a better decision on a hit, but fails to do so. Here, Gudbranson could have changed his angle, minimized contact with Vatrano or tie him up along the boards instead of plastering him into the glass.

Gudbranson will see $18,817.20 of his salary go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Panthers’ biggest question: Can the old guys hang on while the young guys get better?


The Florida Panthers are a bit of an odd team, in terms of their mix.

They have Jaromir Jagr, who at 43 is the oldest player in the NHL by a considerable margin. They also have a couple of 38-year-olds in Willie Mitchell and Shawn Thornton, plus a couple of 36-year-olds in Roberto Luongo and Brian Campbell.

Yet you can’t call the Panthers an old team. These aren’t the New Jersey Devils we’re talking about here.

Not with 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad, the league’s reigning rookie of the year, and 22-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau, who received the same honor in 2013.

Also, Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, Brandon Pirri, Reilly Smith, Vincent Trocheck, Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Petrovic, and Dylan Olsen. All of them under 25 years of age.

Oh, and don’t forget Lawson Crouse, the 18-year-old winger that could make the team. And Rocco Grimaldi, the 22-year-old forward who had 42 points 64 AHL games last season.

You get the point.

“We’ve got young players that are very capable of playing for us next year,” said GM Dale Tallon. “We don’t want to shut the door on that. We want those guys to get every opportunity to be on our team. I want to be the youngest team in the league and the best team in the league at the same time.”

The key next season will be for the old guys to hang on while the young guys get better. If that happens, the Panthers have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs, and even making some noise once they get there.

On the other hand, if key veterans like Jagr, Campbell and Luongo start showing their age and/or the youngsters experience too many growing pains, they could stumble.

Related: Roberto Luongo is under pressure

Gallant would be ‘shocked’ if Panthers dealt young talent at deadline


Just three points out of a playoff spot and in the mix to be a deadline buyer, the Florida Panthers will be interesting to watch as Mar. 2 draws closer.

But to hear head coach Gerard Gallant explain it, any potential deal won’t involve the Panthers’ young prospects.

“I don’t foresee that happening,” Gallant said, per CBS Radio Miami. “We’re staying the course. We’re going to play our young guys, because our young guys are playing real well and they’re a big part of our team.

“I’d be shocked if anything like that happens. You’d have to get an unbelievable offer, but we’re planning on doing this for the long haul.”

It’s easy to see why Gallant was asked about parting with his young stars. Florida’s current position in the standings and reports that the club was interested in Toronto’s Phil Kessel kicked things off — and, obviously, the Panthers have enough tantalizing young assets to pull off a blockbuster. Their three leading scorers are 22-year-old Nick Bjugstad, 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad and 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau while the likes of Aleksander Barkov (who’s 19), Alex Petrovic (who’s 22) and Erik Gudbranson (who’s 23) are key contributors as well.

The club’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio also loaded. Promising prospects like Vincent Trocheck, Rocco Grimaldi, Jonathan Racine and Connor Brickley have played well this year and could be knocking on the NHL door sooner rather than later (Trocheck, Grimaldi and Racine have all made their big-league debuts already.)

Despite this seeming surplus of talent, Panthers GM Dale Tallon sounds loathe to part with any of his youngsters. Instead, veterans like Sean Bergenheim and Tomas Fleischmann are being dangled, in part to open up more spots on the active roster for young players.

“The young guys are coming up,” Gallant explained. “I don’t anticipate anybody being traded — any of our young players. We’d be shocked.”

Video: Mike Fisher catches Erik Gudbranson below the belt


In the waning moments of regulation in what would eventually be a shootout win for the Nashville Predators on Sunday, Mike Fisher gave Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson an, um, “cup check.”

(Please keep your inevitable Carrie Underwood jokes clean, commenters.)

In case you’re wondering, Fisher hasn’t been suspended by the NHL before and there was no penalty on the play.

Also, in a bit of good fortune for Fisher, that concluded the Panthers – Predators games for this season (barring an unlikely 2015 Stanley Cup Final series). Gudbranson will probably have to wait until 2015-16 to have a word with Fisher for that one.