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Canucks expect veteran Travis Hamonic to help guide young defence corps – Sportsnet.ca

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VANCOUVER — On the 10th day of Christmas, the Vancouver Canucks signed defenceman Travis Hamonic.

The lords-a-leaping were general manager Jim Benning and coach Travis Green, who saw the backwards step their team suffered in free agency last October narrow considerably with Sunday’s addition of Hamonic on a professional tryout agreement.

Don’t let the PTO aspect of the transaction fool you. When concussed winger Micheal Ferland and his $3.5-million cap hit are shifted to long-term injured reserve just before the season starts on Jan. 13, the 30-year-old Hamonic should join the Canucks’ roster on a bargain one-year contract.

The sides are believed to have established parameters for the deal.

It will complete an upgrade of the Vancouver blue line, which lost steady second- and third-pairing defencemen Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher in free agency, but have replaced them with first- and second-pairing players in Nate Schmidt and Hamonic.

This improvement should be enough to offset the free-agent loss of starting goalie Jacob Markstrom, although new Canuck Braden Holtby and incumbent prospect-backup Thatcher Demko still need to perform better in 2021 than they did last season.

Players underwent physical and medical testing Sunday ahead of Monday’s first training camp practice sessions at Rogers Arena. Meanwhile, the Canucks’ projected lineup looks strong enough to return to the Stanley Cup playoffs next spring in the extraordinary all-Canadian division that starts a 56-game schedule in 10 days.

“He’s an experienced player that we know can come in and help us,” Benning said Sunday of Hamonic during a videoconference with reporters. “I’m excited that he chose to come in and sign a PTO with us because I think he’s going to help with our back end.

“When we talked about bringing him to camp … one of the things that came up is we’re going to have some young players on defence this year and he can help with their development. He’s a veteran player, he plays with passion, he plays hard and we think he’s going to be a good fit with our group.”

Hamonic averaged 21:12 of ice time last season with the Calgary Flames, usually in matchup minutes, but was not re-signed after opting out of the Flames’ summer playoff bubble due to health concerns for his two young children.

Despite an impressive career and robust play in a defensive role, he became one of many NHL free agents squeezed by the coronavirus-caused recession within the league.

The Canucks’ six-man defence looks like this: Quinn Hughes-Schmidt; Alex Edler-Tyler Myers; Olli Juolevi-Hamonic.

Juolevi, the 22-year-old who made his NHL debut during the Canucks’ surprising playoff run, is one of the defencemen Benning hopes Hamonic will help mentor.

The Canucks get really young at the depth positions, where veteran Jordie Benn will be pushed by rookies Jalen Chatfield, Jack Rathbone and Brogan Rafferty.

“I think what (Hamonic) can provide is a lot of things that you need to win,” Green said. “Blocking shots, end of the game … penalty kill, hard defensive minutes that you need to win. It’s not always offence that wins; it’s two-way and defensive hockey as well, and I think he can bring that to our group.”

Hamonic, who is starting his seven-day NHL quarantine after flying to Vancouver from his Winnipeg-area home, isn’t the only Canuck awaiting a new contract.

As they sat a socially-distanced six feet apart for Sunday’s press conference, Benning and Green had yet to agree on a contract extension for the coach, who has overseen the development of the Canucks’ young stars and the steady improvement of the rebuilt team.

There is no doubt Green has earned a new contract and raise – from an entry-level NHL deal reportedly worth $1 million annually to something in the coaching mid-range of about $3 million – but like Hamonic, he is squeezed by the current financial situation.

Benning reiterated Sunday his intention to re-sign his head coach when there is more clarity about the NHL’s financial future, but having Green enter the season on an expiring contract – in a rabid Canadian market – is hardly ideal. Just wait until the Canucks lose consecutive games.

“It’s an exciting time to be a Canuck right now,” Green said. “I haven’t hidden that I want to be here long term. I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface of what we are as a team and where we’re going. With our conversations with Jim, I’m fine where we are right now and hopefully we can work things out and I can be here for awhile. It is no secret I love coaching here and I want to win here.”

Green is excited about the season, too, and the unprecedented North Division.

“I know there’s been a lot of uncertainty in everyone’s lives, but you know hockey brings back a little bit of normal for a lot of people,” Green said. “We’re kind of in uncharted waters here in an all-Canadian division. Everyone knows the passion for hockey in Canada. It’s going to be a very exciting season for players, us coaches, fans. But not just fans of the Canucks, but the fans of hockey throughout Canada. We probably won’t see this again and it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be an amazing year, really.”

Notes: With Ferland still home in Manitoba, Benning said he was unaware of any medical issues involving players at camp… Besides Hamonic, Eastern European prospect Lukas Jasek and junior goalie Arturs Silovs still face quarantine restrictions… Benning said he doesn’t expect to reassign players to the taxi-squad or minor-league Utica Comets until the Canucks name their 23-man roster for the Jan. 13 season-opener in Edmonton.

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Trade grades: Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine swap teams – ESPN

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We’ve got our first blockbuster trade of the 2021 NHL season, as the Columbus Blue Jackets have sent disgruntled center Pierre-Luc Dubois along with a 2022 third-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for disgruntled winger Patrik Laine and forward Jack Roslovic.

Laine and Dubois arrived on the NHL radar simultaneously, as the No. 2 and No. 3 picks, respectively, in the 2016 NHL draft. Heading into this season, there were murmurs that both were unhappy with their current situation. Now, they each get a fresh start where the other began his NHL career.

How did both GMs do in this swap of stars? Here are our grades for the deal.

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Montreal Canadiens recall Corey Perry from taxi squad – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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The Montreal Canadiens have announced the recall of Corey Perry from the taxi squad, making the winger available for Saturday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Perry’s recall was necessary because of the concussion that Joel Armia suffered on Thursday night. Perry will likely slot into Armia’s position on the third line with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli.

This will be Perry’s NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens. The veteran winger signed a 1-year $750,000 contract during the offseason after tallying 21 points in 56 games with the Dallas Stars the previous season.

The absence of additional recalls likely means that Paul Byron will be in the lineup or — at the very least — that the team is comfortable placing Victor Mete in the lineup. This move allows the team to evaluate the cap situation and their injury situation during the upcoming four-day break prior to their home opener on Thursday.

Perry can stay on the NHL roster for 30 days or play 10 games without requiring waivers to return to the taxi squad.

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Player grades: McDavid's brilliance not quite enough as Edmonton Oilers drop a tight one in T.O. – Edmonton Journal

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Article content continued

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 7. Robbed by Andersen in the early going off a great Draisaitl feed, though if he could have found the upper half of the net it likely would have been a different story. Was all over the puck again, winning an important shorthanded puck battle against Morgan Rielly to feed the disc into Draisaitl’s territory and earn his fifth point of the young season. Had a few other chances of his own but failed to hit the target. Blocked 4 shots at the other end, which is to say 3 more than all the other forwards combined. Has been like a dog on a bone around the puck all season.

#63 Tyler Ennis, 6. His standout moment was a great stretch pass to send Puljujarvi in on a breakaway. A couple of shots of his own. Drew a penalty.

#74 Ethan Bear, 6. A solid night on the back end, though his ice time was down a tad at 18:12. Earned an assist, firing a point shot that McDavid was able to deflect home from the slot. 3 hits and some decent puck movement.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. A key part of the dominant McDavid unit, which had the puck on a string for much of the night. Earned an assist with a good puck recovery and pass that led to the McDavid tally early in the third. Involved in 5 Oilers Grade A chances and was clean at the other end, unless you want to consider a lost battle at centre ice that led to Marner’s empty netter with under a second on the clock. Played 22:39 but an unusual 0:00 on the penalty kill, which in retrospect may have been a mistake.

#97 Connor McDavid, 8.Best player on the ice for either team. Had one early issue when he was caught puckwatching as Wayne Simmonds swooped in for an early chance, but more than made up for that by later contributing to 11 (eleven) of Edmonton’s 17 chances on the night, with 7 of those Grade A shots coming off his own stick. Indeed his 7 shots were 3 more than any other player on either team. Burst around the defence for one close in jam shot and a behind-the-back rebound. Robbed by a superb Andersen glove grab when he pounced on Koekkoek’s rebound that had the Oilers’ ace smiling in disbelief. Hammered a one-timer from centre slot that the  Leafs netminder rejected, Oilers’ best powerplay chance of the night. Scored the 2-2 goal on a superb mid-air deflection. 9/17=53% on the dot. Edmonton dominated the shot clock to the tune of 16-4 during his 19 minutes at 5v5.

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McCURDY: 5 things the Oilers need to do better to win

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Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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