Trevor Linden finally broke down and used the ‘R’ word last season.
The Canucks once again finished near the bottom of the NHL standings, 29th to be exact, prompting the team president to call the situation in Vancouver a rebuild.
“I think I was making an effort to appease the people,” Linden told Sportsnet 590 in the spring. “Obviously we’ve been forthright in saying we’ve been transitioning as a team to a younger group and that was becoming a bit of a sticking point with some people. So to get alignment with our fans and our media I used the rebuild word today, which everyone can get their head around.”
Despite placing 29th overall, the Canucks came away from the draft lottery with the fifth overall pick, which turned into Elias Pettersson.
But another disappointing regular season has ushered in significant changes, starting behind the bench.
Coach Willie Desjardins was fired. Travis Green, who had been the bench boss for Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica, was hired as Desjardins’ replacement.
The biggest loss? Nikita Tryamkin leaving the Canucks to return to the KHL.
While looking to transition younger players — Brock Boeser, Jake Virtanen, and Olli Juolevi to name a few candidates — into the lineup, the Canucks were active in the free agent market, without spending outrageous sums of money. They added Anders Nilsson in goal, Michael Del Zotto and Patrick Wiercioch on defense, and Sam Gagner and Alexander Burmistrov up front.
The only major task left for Canucks general manager Jim Benning this summer is to sign restricted free agent center Bo Horvat to a new deal. He’s due for a significant raise after a productive third year — 20 goals and 52 points in 81 games — in the league.