Canucks sign Carson Sauci, Ian Cole to strengthen defense core

The Vancouver Canucks needed guards. He got two on Canada Day.

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Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrick Alvin’s goal this summer was clear: to overhaul his defense corps.

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With Ethan Beers injured by December and the final assessment by Allwine and his staff that Oliver Ekman-Larsson would not be able to recover enough to perform at an acceptable level for years to come, the Canucks had voids to fill.

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Allwine did so on Saturday, the opening day of the 2023 NHL free agency season, by signing Carson Sauci and Ian Cole.

Souci is a towering 28-year-old defenseman who played the past two seasons for the Seattle Kraken, while Cole, whom Allwine and his ex-Pittsburgh Penguins colleagues on the Canucks’ management staff have been working with for more than half a decade since their Stanley Cup years, Had to go well. First, will join for one season.

“We felt we needed a change here. We realized we needed to go a little heavier and have players who are willing to stop shots, PK and be good at size and reach, in Carson, that was really important to us,” explained Alvin.

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Neither blueliner puts up more points, but both are capable defenders and both will improve the Canucks’ defensive depth in the short term.

Allwine said, “Ian Cole had a really strong year in Tampa.” “I believe in about 79 games averaging about 20 minutes. He is capable of playing both sides and I think that was important for us as well.

Allwine pointed to the experience of assistant coaches Sergei Gonchar and Adam Foote, both former defensemen, and how they can help Saucy find a new level, even though he’s about to turn 29.,

“With Carson Sauci, (Adam) Foote and Sergei Gonchar again, I believe he can take his game to another level. … His size, his ability to skate. He is the second guy who scored 10 goals two years ago. Definitely a guy we can use in a top four role, but it also depends on how the coach wants to run the bench, different matchups, opportunities, depending on who we play against. Are.

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And both are skilled penalty killers, which has been a real area of ​​weakness for Vancouver over the last two seasons.

Allwyn confirmed on Saturday morning that he had signed a one-year deal with Cole for $3 million and a three-year deal with Saucy for $9.75 million. Rick Dhaliwal of Czech-TV pointed out that Souci has a no-trade clause on all three years of his deal; It is completely no-trade in the first two years of the contract, limited to only 12 teams in the third year.

The Canucks’ GM also stated that they signed checking forward Teddy Bluger on a one-year deal worth $1.9 million, as well as potential forward Tristan Nielsen to a two-year entry-level deal.

The Canucks also added to their AHL depth, signing 35-year-old defenseman Matt Irvin — who is from Victoria — and goaltender Zack Souchenko, who is likely to battle Nikita Tolopilo as the organization’s No. 4 goaltender.

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Bluger is another player the Canucks know well from Pittsburgh. A true checking center, he was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights at the trade deadline last season, but proved to be just a small player in Vegas’ march to the Stanley Cup.

He is a quality fourth-line centre, but can be compared as an everyday third-line pivot.

But Allwyn thinks he might just be. He is a player that Allwine scouted before being drafted by the Penguins in 2012.

“There was a drop in his goalscoring last year, but I believe he is capable of scoring 10 to 15 goals, or around 15,” Allwyn said. “I see him as a really dependable player. More detailed. High Hockey IQ. His faceoff on PKs this year was 55 percent. It was really impressive.”

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Alvin told reporters that securing the team’s penalty kill was a priority among the three main signings of the day.

He said, “I think I need to provide the personnel to help the coaching staff play accordingly and by addressing this here, I feel strongly that this will help them, the coaching staff, to improve PK.” Will get more opportunities.”

Alvin said, the door will be open for the bear.

“Very, very tough decision,” he said of not making the Bears a qualifying offer, meaning the defenseman is an unrestricted free agent. Bier had shoulder surgery last month and will not be available to play until December.

“We’ll continue to talk to Ethan and his agent and make sure he’s in a good place to do his rehabilitation and we’ll double check. I don’t know if he’ll be able to sign with anyone else here, but He has expressed a desire to live in Vancouver.”

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OEL for South Florida

Oliver Ekman-Larsson will get a chance to resume his career with the Florida Panthers.

The former star was purchased by the Canucks on a deal with the remainder of four years that averages $8.25 million per season last month. He is expected to join the Panthers on a one-year deal worth $2.25 million.

He will have a simple task: to show he can be the player he was before, not the faltering, slow, ineffective defender he was in 2022-23.

Burroughs to SJ

Kyle Burrows is off to San Jose, getting some security in a three-year deal that will pay him $1.1 million per season.

He was a fan favorite in Vancouver but as a depth option, the offer he received from San Jose was clearly too rich for the Canucks.

Delia joins Winnipeg

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Colin Delia’s tenure with Vancouver has come to an end after just one year. Friendly netminder Thatcher was Demko’s backup in the second half of the season, but the Canucks apparently have no interest in making him full-time in 2023-24 as Delia is joining the Winnipeg Jets on a one-year deal.

This was always a likely outcome, given that Spencer Martin had one more year left on his deal and the Canucks apparently believed that Arturs Silovs would develop into a full-time NHL goaltender, as well as a backup to Abbotsford. Nikita Tolopilo was signed. Delia was left with no role to fill.

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