The Vancouver Canucks appear to be sticking with Willie Desjardins.
That could be subject to change, however, depending on how they start next season.
After enduring the organization’s worst season since the late 1990s, which has landed the Canucks with the third best odds in the upcoming draft lottery (April 30), president Trevor Linden reiterated the vote of confidence he gave Desjardins back in March, as the losses and growing pains with a younger roster continued.
“It was unfair to blame Willie where we ended up this year — there are a lot of things that go into that,” Linden told reporters on Tuesday. “He was given a challenge and worked hard at it and will definitely be back next year.”
It’s unclear at this point if veteran forward Alex Burrows will be back next season. Ditto for Dan Hamhuis. And with pending free agents like Radim Vrbata and Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber, there could be even more change on a Canucks roster that underwent a huge transition to get younger this past season.
Next year’s roster will not include Brock Boeser. The impressive freshman forward and 2015 first-round pick has already declared on Twitter that he’ll return to North Dakota for his sophomore season in 2016-17, after winning a national championship over the weekend.
The Canucks now turn their attention toward locking up another impressive college player, and 2014 second-round pick, Thatcher Demko.
He finished his junior season at Boston College with an appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four and recognition as a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
“I’m confident and hope he decides that he’s going to turn pro sooner rather than later,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning.
“When we talked to all his representatives, I think he just wants to sit down with his parents and include them in the decision-making process and I’m hoping it gets done in the next couple of weeks.”