Canucks trade for Ekman-Larsson, Garland, seek return to playoffs

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After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the Vancouver Canucks:

2020-21 season: 23-29-4, last in Scotia North Division; did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Key arrivals

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D: The 30-year-old was acquired with forward Conor Garland in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on July 23 for forwards Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle and Loui Eriksson, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (Dylan Guenther), a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. Ekman-Larsson, who was Arizona’s captain for the past three seasons, scored 24 points (three goals, 21 assists) in 46 games last season. … Conor Garland, F: The 25-year-old signed a five-year contract four days after being acquired from the Coyotes. He scored 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 49 games last season. … Jaroslav Halak, G: The 36-year-old signed a one-year contract July 28. Halak was 9-6-4 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 19 games (17 starts) with the Boston Bruins last season. … Tucker Poolman, D: The 28-year-old signed a four-year contract July 28. Poolman had one assist in 39 regular-season games and scored two points (one goal, one assist) in eight Stanley Cup Playoff games last season with the Winnipeg Jets. … Jason Dickinson, F: The 26-year-old was acquired July 17 in a trade with the Dallas Stars for a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and signed a three-year contract Aug. 14. Dickinson scored 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 51 games last season. … Luke Schenn, D: The 31-year-old signed a two-year contract July 28 after scoring four points (two goals, two assists) in 38 regular-season games and one goal in eight playoff games for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Schenn helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup each of the past two seasons.

Key departures

Nate Schmidt, D: He was traded to the Jets on July 27 for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft after scoring 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 54 games last season. … Alexander Edler, D: He signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings on July 28. Edler, who played 15 seasons with the Canucks, had eight assists in 52 games last season. … Braden Holtby, G: He signed a one-year contract with the Stars on July 28 after the final season of his contract was bought out by the Canucks on July 27. Holtby was 7-11-3 with a 3.67 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage in 21 starts last season. … Jay Beagle, F: He was traded to the Coyotes after scoring five points (one goal, four assists) in 30 games last season. … Antoine Roussel, F: He traded to Arizona after scoring four points (one goal, three assists) in 35 games last season. … Loui Ericksson, F: He was traded to the Coyotes after having one assist in seven games last season. … Jake Virtanen, F: He had the final season of his contract bought out July 25 and is an unrestricted free agent. Virtanen scored five goals in 38 games last season.

On the cusp

Jack Rathbone, D: The 22-year-old scored three points (one goal, two assists) in eight games with the Canucks and nine points (two goals, seven assists) in eight games for Utica of the American Hockey League last season. … Vasily Podkolzin, F: The 20-year-old, who was the No. 10 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, scored 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 35 games for St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League last season and four points (two goals, two assists) in seven games for Russia at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

What they still need

To sign two core players, defenseman Quinn Hughes and forward Elias Pettersson. Each is a restricted free agent. Hughes led Vancouver defensemen with 41 points (three goals, 38 assists) in 56 games last season; Pettersson scored 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 26 games before being sidelined by a wrist injury.

They said it

“I think they have a young group of guys that are unbelievable players that are ready to be superstars and win in this League. That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to help young guys and I want to be on a winning team. I haven’t been doing a lot of winning, unfortunately, but hopefully we’ll change that here with Vancouver and be a part of a winning culture.” — defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Fantasy focus

Garland could skate in the top six, bringing exposure to either valuable center Pettersson or Bo Horvat. Garland scored 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 49 games last season, the best points-per-game average (0.79) of his NHL career, and could improve upon those numbers with a better offensive team in the Canucks. Garland is worth drafting in late rounds of standard 12-team leagues as an intriguing deep sleeper candidate. — Rob Reese 

Projected lineup

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander — Jason Dickinson — Vasily Podkolzin

Tyler MotteBrandon SutterMatthew Highmore

Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Travis Hamonic

Quinn Hughes — Tyler Myers

Olli Juolevi — Tucker Poolman

Thatcher Demko

Jaroslav Halak

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