Canucks: Chris Tanev says he would “love to stay here”

Chris Tanev is a pending UFA, but the 30-year-old defenceman hopes to remain with the Vancouver Canucks.

If all goes according to plan, the 2019-20 NHL season will resume on Aug. 1, and the Vancouver Canucks will clash with the Minnesota Wild in a best-of-five qualifying round.

Assuming everything sails smoothly, the Stanley Cup will be awarded in October. The 2020 NHL draft will follow soon after, and the plan is for free agency to begin on Nov. 1, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

So Vancouver general manager Jim Benning will have plenty of time to sort through his options as several key players prepare for the possibility of entering free agency.

Vancouver’s primary pending UFAs are starting goalie Jacob Markstrom, forward Tyler Toffoli and blueliner Chris Tanev. It’s going to be practically impossible to keep all three, and Benning will have to create some cap room if he hopes to retain two of them.

There’s plenty of work to be done in regards to negotiations. But the 30-year-old rearguard has made it clear that he’s hoping to stick around with the only NHL team he’s ever known, where he can continue a successful partnership with rookie sensation Quinn Hughes.

“I’d love to stay here and play with Quinn as long as I’m able to,” Tanev said on Tuesday, per Pete Jensen and David Satriano of NHL.com. “I think we played great together when we did this year and I think we both enjoyed it…I think he’s an extremely dynamic player that is only going to get better and better for this organization, and it was pretty special what he did this year.”

Tanev was instrumental in helping Hughes enjoy one of the best seasons ever for a rookie blueliner. The latter posted eight goals and 53 points in 68 games. He and Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar are considered the two favorites for the Calder Trophy.

The longtime fan favorite is also optimistic about Vancouver’s chances against anybody in the postseason.

“We have just as good of a shot as anyone to win this thing, so I think we’re going to be ready to go once the puck drops,” Tanev added. “I think when we were healthy, we could play anyone this year and go toe-to-toe with them. (Markstrom) was great. … We can beat anyone.”

Tanev is in his 10th NHL season. He’s widely regarded as the team’s most responsible and defensively sound blueliner. But Benning is up against the cap, and if he prefers to re-sign Markstrom first, it’s going to be hard to retain Tanev.

But that’s all for another day. The contract talks with Tanev are far from a concern at the moment. The present focus is for the players to get ready for a return to the ice as the Canucks look to get past the Wild for their first official playoff berth in five years.