Vancouver Canucks Qualify Grenier, Zalewski, and Pedan

Apr 7, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Andrey Pedan (29) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Andrey Pedan (29) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are getting some work behind the scenes leading up to the NHL Entry Draft.

The Vancouver Canucks have gone to work with their restricted free agents, as they have qualified forwards Alex Grenier and Mike Zalewski as well as defenseman Andrey Pedan. The three have predominantly spent their 2015-16 seasons as the AHL Utica Comets’ top players.

Two of the RFAs the most familiar to Canucks fans were not qualified. Forwards Emerson Etem and Linden Vey have not been qualified, and while the Canucks have told Etem’s agent to simply wait until draft day, Vey’s agent does not expect a qualifying offer from the Canucks.

The situation for Etem seems very optimistic, however. Expect him to play more games in Vancouver in view of the price the Canucks had to pay in the trade with the New York Rangers.

For Vey, however, his tenure with the Canucks seems to be ending. Looking at his difficult circumstances, it may be best for him to leave North America and take some time to hone his hockey skills on European ice.

Qualified: Grenier, Pedan, and Zalewski

Alex Grenier played six games as a call-up for the Canucks this past season, looking especially good in his first games during the mid-point of the season. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound right winger had 48 points in 69 games with the Utica Comets this past season, including 16 goals. The 24-year-old also recorded three points in four playoff games.

My guess is that Etem’s status depends on how this deal goes through with Grenier and his agent. Grenier will be rejecting the offer in hopes of signing a bigger cheque. If Grenier signs with the Canucks, expect him to compete against Etem for a spot on the Canucks roster, even as the 13th forward.

That also implies that Grenier is waiver-eligible.

Center Mike Zalewski was a pleasant surprise for the Canucks this past season. After recording 33 points in 58 games for the Utica Comets, the 23-year-old recorded an assist during a three-game call-up to the NHL. His two-way play has impressed Utica GM Pat Conacher, according to News 1130:

I imagine that GM Jim Benning was also impressed, as he signed the 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward to an NHL contract mid-season after letting him start on an AHL contract in September of 2015. Zalewski most likely accepts the offer to start the year as Utica’s top centerman and the top call-up option for the Canucks, as he is one of the few forwards who are waiver-exempt.

Lastly, Andrey Pedan is a 22-year-old stay-at-home defenseman who has played 13 games with the Canucks this past season. A 6-foot-5, 213-pound big body, Pedan has also recorded 21 points in 45 games with the Comets as a mainstay on the team’s top pairing.

He proved to be a great physical presence for the Canucks and figures to be one of the depth defensemen for the upcoming season alongside Alex Biega and Philip Larsen. With all three being waiver-eligible, Pedan could be lining up as a spare forward on opening day.

CBA Explained Preview: What are Qualifying Offers?

As a small preview of a feature I am planning to take on later in the offseason, here’s a small CBA Explained segment on what Qualifying Offers are.

More from The Canuck Way

As the Canucks have done for Grenier, Pedan, and Zalewski, an NHL team may extend a qualifying offer to its RFAs. A qualifying offer is a one-year offer that must be made by the team to retain RFA rights over the player. When a team refuses to make a QO, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.

That seems to be the case for Linden Vey, and possibly for Etem, though free agency will be one week after the draft when the two parties will meet.

If the RFA was making less than $660,000 during the previous season, the QU must be a raise five-percent raise. This is the case for Zalewski and Grenier.

The qualifying offer costs the same as the previous season’s if the RFA has made up to $1 million the year before. This is the case for Etem, Vey, and Pedan, who were making $850,500, $1 million, and $792,500, respectively.

When players reject teams’ qualifying offers, this does not grant them an unrestricted free agent right. Only through a team declining a QO can an RFA become a UFA.

The fact that Pedan is refusing this offer means that the party is looking for either a multi-year deal or a one-year deal worth more than $792,500. If the Canucks truly want Pedan’s physicality on the blueline or the wings, they will have to cough up just a bit more of their cap space.

Next: Countdown to 2016: Re-Drafting the Class of 2009

The Canucks have their sights set on a 20+ goal scorer as well as a versatile two-way centerman. How strongly will they pursue their RFAs? Stay tuned, the draft is just four days away.