Canucks say signing Horvat to new contract ‘priority’

Canucks say signing Horvat to new contract ‘priority’

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks hope to sign a captain Good Horvat to a new contract, but the forward’s start to the season will at least increase his trade value if they can’t reach an agreement, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said Monday.

Rutherford told Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver that there has been no movement in negotiations with Horvat, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

The 2023 NHL trade deadline is March 3.

“Our priority is to keep Bo,” Rutherford said. “I give him a lot of credit. He might lose his focus here and be thinking about what’s going to happen with his contract and nothing, but he came in ready to play and he’s played really well for us. I hope he keeps it up. Hopefully we can sign – him. If we can’t sign him, the better we play, the better return we’re going to get for him, so it works out for everybody, but the ideal is to find a way to keep Bo. Vancouver.”

Horvat has scored 10 goals in 12 games, tied with the San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson for second in the NHL behind Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (13), and his 14 points are one behind Elias Pettersson by Vancouver leadership.

The Canucks are 3-6-3 entering a five-game road trip at the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, SNP, ESPN+, SN NOW) and have missed the Stanley Cup playoffs in six of the past seven. seasons They have blown a multi-goal lead five times and became the first team in NHL history to do so in their first four games. Vancouver lost 4-3 in overtime to the Nashville Predators on Saturday after leading 3-0, prompting Rutherford to lament the lack of defensive structure.

“To become a better team, we have to play a stronger system and really be more accountable for some of the things that some of the players are struggling with,” Rutherford said. “In the NHL now, the way the game is played and the way the refs call it, it’s hard to defend because you can’t get away with cross checks in front of the net, putting guys out of the way. , and so it’s understandable that teams will give up the lead. It happens all over the league, but the fact that it’s happened as many times as it has in such a short period of time, it’s a major concern and something needs to be fixed.”

Although the Canucks addressed the right side of the defense by acquiring Ethan Bear in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 28 for a fifth-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, they are 29th in goals against per game (4.00).

“If we played in a really strong structure, it would make it easier to play our defense and it wouldn’t matter who was on our defense,” Rutherford said. “But right now, we don’t have that strong of a structure.”

Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked about Rutherford’s comments after Tuesday’s morning skate.

“Listen guys, right off the bat, I’m not going to get into an argument about whether or not we (play the structure),” Boudreau said. “We play as hard as we can. We play as well as we can, and we put it all on the line, I think, every night.”

Boudreau added that he is not concerned about Rutherofrd’s criticism.

“I heard it this morning from a lot of people. It is what it is,” Boudreau said. “I try to keep the noise out and keep the noise out of the room as much as possible, and just focus on what we have to do at hand, and that’s win a hockey game.

“This is my 47th year in the business. I’ve seen a lot, so it’s just another thing added to the book I’ll never write.”

Boudreau is in the final season of his contract. He was backed by general manager Patrik Allvin two weeks ago despite an 0-5-2 start to the season while dealing with multiple injuries, including a lower-body injury at linebacker. Quinn Hughes.

“Yeah, the coaching staff from day one, we have good communication and we’re working together and we’re going to find a way out of this,” Allvin said on Oct. 26. “I’m the general manager, so I “I’m as responsible as the coaches and the players and we’re all working together. I see the effort the coaching staff is making every day and my job is to always look at options to improve and support them.”

Rutherford said he doesn’t see the offensive style used in the second half of last season, when Vancouver went 32-15-10 after Boudreau replaced Travis Green, as a sustainable way to play over a long period of time . He hinted that more changes could come if things don’t start changing.

“We’re at a point now and we’re definitely going to be at that point even more so at the end of this road trip where we’re going to have to hold the players more accountable,” Rutherford said. “We have to take the necessary steps to get the players’ attention.”

Horvat said Tuesday that “it’s good to be challenged.” However, he said the Canucks won’t heed what Rutherford said.

“I didn’t actually hear everything that was said, but we’re focused on what’s going on here,” Horvat said. “We have a lot of confidence in this group, we believe in ourselves a lot. I think we’ve played very good hockey, enough to know that we have a very good hockey team here. Obviously, we have to clean up parts of our game, but in for the most part, it’s about marking him and playing a full 60 minutes and not giving up leads.”

NHL.com freelance correspondent Callum Fraser contributed to this report

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