Latest Canucks rumours: Tyson Barrie, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, more

From Tyson Barrie to Oliver Ekman-Larsson, there hasn’t been a shortage of intriguing Vancouver Canucks rumours over the past 24 hours.

It’s anybody’s guess what general manager Jim Benning does over these next two weeks, but one thing is certain: The Vancouver Canucks will be one of the busiest teams this offseason.

Vancouver is coming off its most successful season in nine years. They upset the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the first round, giving the franchise its first playoff series win since 2011.

That set up a showdown with the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round of the playoffs.  Thatcher Demko‘s incredible heroics weren’t enough as the Canucks fell to the powerhouse Golden Knights in seven games.

Now, Benning must maneuver his way out of a difficult salary cap situation. He also has to upgrade his roster and try to retain several key pending free agents.

Let’s get you caught up with the latest rumours.

On Friday, Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre listed Tyson Barrie as a potential target in free agency. He pointed out that the Canucks held trade talks with the Colorado Avalanche last year, but the veteran blueliner wound up getting traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Related Story: Should the Canucks pursue Brenden Dillon as a UFA?

Barrie was coming off a career season, finishing with 14 goals and 59 points in 78 games. But his struggles in Toronto were well-documented, as Barrie finished with only five goals and 39 points — his lowest totals in three years.

The 29-year-old has recorded double-digit goals five times, and he has a trio of 50-point seasons — and a 49-point campaign — on his resume.  If Barrie entered free agency last year, he would have surely landed a lucrative deal close to $6 million a season.

McIntyre notes that Barrie only makes sense for the Canucks if Chris Tanev (a pending UFA) departs and if Barrie “is willing to take a shorter-term deal for something close to the $4.45-million Tanev was getting.”

Barrie’s best bet may be to take a one-year pact and try to reset his value for 2021 free agency. If his camp is interested in going that route, Barrie makes plenty of sense for the Canucks.

As for the ongoing Oliver Ekman-Larsson rumours? On Saturday morning, Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reported that the Canucks “are hanging in there on the OEL trade front.” However, LeBrun added that it’s uncertain if they’ll get “to the finish line.”

And then there’s the Jacob Markstrom situation. Will the Canucks retain their team MVP and No. 1 goalie? Thomas Drance of The Athletic (subscription required) believes that negotiations between the two sides could go down to the wire.

For what it’s worth, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector believes Markstrom should be atop the Edmonton Oilers’ targets in free agency.

Edmonton and another Pacific Division rival, the Calgary Flames, are both in need of starting goalie upgrades. Even if the Canucks are intent on keeping Markstrom, there figures to be intense competition for his services.

David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reports that the Canucks are “in a holding pattern” with pending UFA forward Tyler Toffoli. The Canucks, according to Pagnotta, are looking “to move money.”

Pagnotta added that the Canucks have “made it known” that veteran forwards Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson “are available.” The former is signed for one more year, while Eriksson is under contract for two more seasons.

Next: Canucks: Lehner deal sets bar for Jacob Markstrom

We’ll just have to see how things play out, but expect the Canucks to be one of the busiest teams throughout the next two weeks.