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.
The Canucks signed one of their remaining restricted free agents on Wednesday.
No, it wasn’t Bo Horvat.
The Canucks announced a two-year, one-way contract with forward Brendan Gaunce. The deal comes with an annual average value of $750,000.
Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2012, the now 23-year-old Gaunce appeared in 57 games for the Canucks last season, recording five assists.
At 6-foot-2 tall and 217 pounds, he can play both the wing and center, while bringing an element of size and physical play to Vancouver’s group of bottom six forwards.
The organization would probably like to get more offense out of him next season, and perhaps having Travis Green — the former Utica Comets bench boss when Gaunce was in the midst of his most productive AHL season — coach in Vancouver will help.
His season came to an end in early March because of a shoulder injury. The club announced several weeks later in April that Gaunce would have shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to six months.
With Gaunce now signed, the Canucks have one remaining restricted free agent to get under contract. That would be Horvat, the 22-year-old center who took a major step forward in his development last season and is due for a substantial raise.
With Gaunce signed, the Canucks should have about $7.375 million remaining in cap space.
Related: Canucks expect to have Horvat signed before training camp
Derek Dorsett‘s third season in Vancouver ended prematurely in November, following neck surgery a few weeks later. But it appears he’ll be ready for the 2017-18 campaign.
Last December, the Canucks announced their rugged winger underwent “cervical fusion surgery to repair disc degeneration” in Dorsett’s neck.
On Friday, Rick Dhaliwal of News 1130 Sports in Vancouver spoke to Dorsett’s agent, Jason Davidson, and reported that the 30-year-old Dorsett is no longer dealing with issues in his neck ahead of training camp.
In 14 games with the Canucks last season, Dorsett had one goal and four points. He’s known more for his toughness as a bottom-six forward, with two more years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $2.65 million, per CapFriendly.
The Canucks have 14 forwards under contract for next season, not including prospects Jake Virtanen and Nikolay Goldobin and with restricted free agents Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce still left to re-sign. Of those 14 players, only Dorsett, Loui Eriksson and Daniel and Henrik Sedin are in their 30s, as Vancouver transitions younger players into the roster.
The Vancouver Canucks still have some work to do this summer, but at least none of their players will take part in salary arbitration hearings.
After coming to an agreement with Michael Chaput, the Canucks reached a one-year, $687,500 deal with forward Reid Boucher on Monday.
Boucher, 23, has 112 regular-season games under his belt. He spent most of his career (82 of 112 games) with the New Jersey Devils before bouncing to the Nashville Predators (3 games) and then the Canucks (27 games) last season. He averaged a little more than 12 minutes per night with the Canucks, much like with the Devils in 2016-17.
While the arbitration hearings are covered, the Canucks face two lingering RFA situations: Brendan Gaunce, and most importantly, Bo Horvat.
The Vegas Golden Knights may take a pass on certain teams in tomorrow’s expansion draft.
GM George McPhee explained today how that might occur, per Yahoo Sports.
“I don’t know if the terminology is the right terminology, but there are ‘throwaway picks,'” said McPhee. “For some teams, there isn’t a whole lot you can do, so you’re going to take a throwaway pick instead of a big contract you don’t like. There will be some of those claims where we won’t qualify the player.”
Take the Arizona Coyotes, who had so few eligible players worth protecting that defensemen Connor Murphy and Luke Schenn made the cut.
Or the Vancouver Canucks, who exposed defenseman Luca Sbisa and his $3.6 million cap hit, along with center Brendan Gaunce, who had no goals in 57 games last season. Those two are arguably the best the Canucks can offer Vegas.
McPhee is obligated to take at least one player from each team. But the way he can take a pass is to select a restricted free agent and then not qualify him, making that player an unrestricted free agent.
Related: ‘We’re going to be a good team’