With a strong work ethic and contributions throughout the lineup, Vancouver is displaying a strong case for a playoff spot and it would be their first since the 2019-20 season. However, forward Elias Pettersson may be looking at his last few months in a Canucks jersey.
Pettersson, drafted fifth overall by the Canucks in 2017, has recently said that he does not want to discuss his contract until after the 2023-24 season as he is due to become a restricted free agent after the season. The question is, will they have to win the Stanley Cup to retain his services?
While that would be massive in an attempt to keep him, Vancouver has some difficult decisions to make.
The Vancouver Canucks have some decisions to make with Elias Pettersson
The Canucks have a projected cap space of $0, and considering he was paid $22.5 million over three years on his last deal, General Manager Patrik Allvin will have to get creative if he wants Pettersson to return.
Only 25 years old, Pettersson has appeared in three all-star games (2019, 2020, 2023) and was the 2018-19 Calder Trophy winner for the league's top rookie. He has been an elite player for Vancouver as he tries to bring some playoff success to the team that drafted him.
This season, Pettersson has 25 goals and 36 assists for 61 points in 48 games and is a +16 He also has five goals and three assists for eight points in his last six games.
In his career, all with the Canucks, he has 161 goals and 223 assists for 384 points in 371 games and is a +53. He has been excellent in the playoffs, scoring seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 17 games while posting a +2.
For Allvin and the Canucks to keep him, they need a miracle this off-season. Aside from Pettersson, Vancouver has 10 players who are either restricted or unrestricted free agents.
If they need money to make a contract happen, all of those players would have to choose somewhere else to play.
If that were to occur, the organization would then have $24.5 million in cap space to re-sign Pettersson. It is highly unlikely that all of these players would not want to return considering the year they are having but it could happen.
Vancouver's list of restricted free agents includes Pettersson, Linus Karlsson, and Filip Hronek. Unrestricted free agents include Teddy Blueger, Sam Lafferty, Dakota Joshua, Tyler Meyers, Nikita Zadorov, Ian Cole, Mark Friedman, and Casey DeSmith.
J.T. Miller has a no-movement clause, Andrei Kuzmenko has a modified no-movement clause, Carson Soucy has a no-trade clause, and Meyers has a modified no-trade clause.
A lot of moving parts to free up some money but this would leave the Canucks roster severely depleted. As a team on the rise, one would think the organization and Allvin need to re-sign Pettersson.
On the other hand, if Pettersson says he will not come back then there is a trade to be had and they would certainly get value back to restock their prospect pipeline.
The worst-case scenario would be Vancouver not re-signing him and losing him for nothing. Big question for the off-season already for the Canucks and Allvin and the season is half over.