Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes remain unsigned, but the Vancouver Canucks hope the restricted free agents will be at training camp, which begins next week.
“If it’s possible to figure out deals before camp, I’d like to try to figure it out because I feel like they’re still young players, they’re still developing and I think training camp is important for them,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning told Sportsnet on Thursday.
Pettersson, a forward, and Hughes, a defenseman, each completed his entry-level contract. Agent Pat Brisson represents both players.
“There’s no angry sides,” Benning said. “We’re just trying to work through it to figure out how to make everybody happy. We talk every day or every second day. We’ve got a week before main camp starts, so we have time to get it done and then get these guys in camp.”
Pettersson, who missed the final 30 games last season because of a wrist injury, scored 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 26 games. The 22-year-old scored 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his final 14 games for the Canucks (23-29-4), who finished last in the seven-team Scotia North Division. The top four teams qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hughes led Canucks defensemen and finished third on Vancouver with 41 points (three goals, 38 assists) in 56 games. The 21-year-old, who was the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, has scored 97 points (11 goals, 86 assists) in 129 regular-season games and 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 17 playoff games. He was runner-up to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2019-20.
“We’re in constant communication with Pat Brisson and his group,” Benning said. “The communication’s good and we’re just trying to figure out how to get to some common ground from their perspective and our perspective. They’re important players in the future of our team and our group but these are complicated deals.”
Pettersson scored 66 points in each of his first two NHL seasons, including 27 goals in 68 games in 2019-20. Selected by Vancouver with the No. 5 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Pettersson won the Calder Trophy in 2018-19 and has scored 153 points (65 goals, 88 assists) in 165 regular-season games.
He previously said he his wrist has healed and expected a contract prior to the season.
“Right now we’re not in an agreement, but I’m not worried that we’re not going to solve it eventually,” Pettersson said in August. “Both parties need to be happy in order to find a solution, but I’m not worried about that.”
The Canucks’ first preseason game is against the Seattle Kraken on Sept. 26. They open the regular season at the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 13.
“[My wrist] feels good now, there will be no problems whatsoever to start next season,” Pettersson said. “Had [the season] started today, I would have been able to play. I’m completely recovered.”