Canucks president doesn’t rule out acquiring a player with Evander Kane’s type of history

Jason Botchford: Why Olli Juolevi still hasn’t signed with the Canucks

Vancouver Canucks draft choice Olli Juolevi is the only remaining 2016 top-10 pick waiting on a contract. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Jason Botchford   July 26, 2016   http://theprovince.com

At some point, the Canucks will sign their prized first-round draft pick, Olli Juolevi. It just might not be anytime soon.

Juolevi is the last signable player taken in the top 10 of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft without an entry-level contract. There are, of course, two players in that top 10 who have committed to college and won’t be signing contracts this year.

So, what gives with Juolevi? Those with connections to the talks say it’s not hard to figure out. Just look at the numbers. There are a couple of million of them in play here.

In signing entry-level deals, player agents can negotiate two types of bonuses, Schedule A and Schedule B. The maximum is US$850,000 per year for Schedule-A bonuses and every player in the top 10 signed for the max. That’s a lock for Juolevi.

The Schedule B maximum is $2 million in bonuses per year and only one player, Auston Matthews, got that. But every player in the top four had significant Schedule-B bonuses worked into their contracts.

Drafted at No. 4, Jesse Puljujarvi’s contract includes $1.65 million per year in potential Schedule-B bonuses. Interestingly, Matthew Tkachuk, who was taken by Calgary at No. 6, got none in his. That’s a significant drop-off in potential money. Guess who was sandwiched in the middle of those two on draft day?

Asked specifically if the Canucks were taking a hard line on Schedule B bonuses, Juolevi’s agent, Markus Lehto, would say only: “There have been discussions, but I don’t negotiate through the media.”

Asked about Juolevi’s contract status on TSN 1040 on Tuesday, Canucks president Trevor Linden suggested a timeline of a few weeks for a deal. Linden did appear to brush off concern about Juolevi’s contract status as no big deal, and he’s probably right.

But it’s worth mentioning that Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello was criticized harshly by some when the Matthews talks lagged a bit. It was suggested then that Lamoriello risked alienating Matthews, while delivering a negative message to the rest of the league on how the Leafs treat their stars. Of course, Matthews was soon signed and all that talk was made to look pretty foolish.

Maybe more interesting was Linden’s suggestion that the most likely landing spot for Juolevi this fall is playing back in the OHL. Vancouver, and Lehto, believe the prospect isn’t eligible for the AHL this season. But he could play in Europe and, for whatever the reasons, the Canucks haven’t yet openly said it’s an option, even though it’s something that is being considered strongly by the Juolevi camp. Lehto said teams in both the Swedish and Finnish elite leagues have contacted him inquiring about the possibility of Juolevi playing there.

“All of the European teams see themselves as having a great development program,” Lehto said. “There is interest when they see a Finnish guy get drafted where he did and one who played really well at the U20 tournament, maybe the best defenceman in the tournament.

“Wouldn’t you think that kind of guy is very attractive? But what I’ve said all along, (Juolevi’s) priority is to make the Vancouver Canucks.”

That remains remotely possible. But if he doesn’t, wouldn’t there be more for Juolevi to gain playing in Europe against men in a high-quality league, rather than going to the OHL, where he’s accomplished about all he can accomplish, to play against a lot of teenagers? It’s at least something that should be considered while the Canucks are killing time before they sign Juolevi.

2016 NHL DRAFT TOP 10  — Annual average value of their contract

1. Auston Matthews, US$3.775 million.
2. Patrick Laine, $3.575m.
3. Pierre-Luc Dubois, $3.425m.
4. Jesse Puljujarvi, $3.425m.
5. Olli Juolevi, unsigned.
6. Matthew Tkachuk, $1.775m.
7. Clayton Keller — committed to college.
8. Alexander Nylander $1.775m.
9. Mikhail Sergachev $1.775m.
10. Tyson Jost — committed to college.

Schedule-B bonuses the team and the player can negotiate (maximum total is US$2 million per year)
1. Finishing in the top five for Hart, Norris, Selke and Richard.
2. Finishing in the top three for Calder and Lady Byng.
3. Making the first- or second-team all-star group.
4. Winning the Conn Smythe.
5. Finishing in the top 10 among defencemen in goals, assists or points.
6. Finishing in the top 10 in points-per-game (must play 42 games).
7. Finishing in the top 10 in average time-on-ice (must play 42 games).

Source: Jason Botchford: Why Olli Juolevi still hasn’t signed with the Canucks | The Province

Signing Troy Stecher was no slam dunk for Canucks

JASON BOTCHFORD

Published on: April 16, 2016

If you were ever looking to find out what a 22-year-old gets up to on the Friday after signing his first pro contract, look no further than Troy Stecher.

The North Dakota communications major was in school, late into Friday afternoon, as committed to finishing his college education as he is to the Canucks.

Stecher signed a two-year entry-level contract with Vancouver this week, and is a promising right-shot defenceman whose presence in the organization should alleviate some of the residual angst over the Canucks pointlessly losing Frankie Corrado in the fall.

Stecher was supposed to be the Canucks slam-dunk college free-agent this spring. He’s from here, and grew up in Richmond. His parents live here, and there was a time when his dad, Peter, had Canucks season tickets. He even was a part of a Canucks development camp in 2014.

But despite any perceived advantages, the Canucks got a big win in signing Stecher, and it was far closer to not happening than most people have assumed.

“It was really close at the end,” Stecher admitted. “We had it down to five, and we narrowed it down to Vancouver after that. It was a long process.

“Being my hometown, it was an added benefit.”

The hometown kid signed by the hometown team makes for a wonderful story, and an easy one too. But don’t be naive. It’s not the entire reason he signed.

Stecher, who is bright, mature, thoughtful and impressively serious, understands math and the situation in Vancouver. Would the signing have happened with the right-shot 22-year-old Corrado in the organization still?

Maybe, but, maybe not.

“Obviously you’re going to do your due diligence and your homework,” he said.

Anyone could have assessed the Canucks as a team desperately in need of a young, right-shot defenceman who has an NHL shot, can make a power-play dance and someone who can skate.

And, boy, can Stecher skate.

For that, he credits his father for pointing out he had short, choppy strides when he was a young teen, and for a Tsawwassen hockey school, where he worked out with Brendan Gallagher and turned those short, choppy strides into something that, at times, made him look like a running antelope in the NCAA this season.

Watching some of his games, there’s Yannik Weber in him. Stecher is grittier and faster, but has that same dynamic offensive potential. And, at 5-foot-10-and-a-half is essentially the same size.

Generally, defencemen under six-feet are thought to be undersized. But Stecher counters that by pointing out the three defencemen he models his game after, Dan Boyle, Duncan Keith and the Minnesota Wild’s Jared Spurgeon, who are all successful NHL blueliners and all on the smaller side of the league.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, every player has obstacles they have to overcome,” Stecher said.

It has provided a nice incentive for him, as he said part of the reason trained those long hours to improve his skating was because of that label he wasn’t big enough.

Stecher’s breakout season for North Dakota saw him go from 13 points to 29. He was the sixth-most productive defenceman in college hockey, and that was like chum in the water for NHL teams.

There had been rumours even last year the NHL was interested in him after passing him over in three consecutive drafts because of his size, and output, which wasn’t impressive until this season.

His best line this week after signing was when he essentially said that if he were a Canucks fan he’d be jacked about the progress of his North Dakota teammate Brock Boeser.

He wasn’t talking about how many goals Boeser scored, which was pretty remarkable. Instead, he was speaking to how Boeser handles himself off the ice.

Thing is, Stecher is much like Boeser, the Canucks’ 2015 first-round pick. They are both dedicated, clean-living kids who, if they can make it, have the character to fit right into an organization currently led by two of the classiest players in the league, the Sedin twins.

For an example, Stecher is passing on an opportunity to play in Utica this season, something Ben Hutton did at the end of last year on an amateur tryout deal which didn’t impact his contract situation.

Stecher is staying in school in part because he doesn’t want to lower his grades, which would negatively impact North Dakota’s score in the NCAA’s academic progress rate program.

Low APR scores can result in NCAA penalties such as scholarship reductions and postseason bans.

“I never want a situation where something I did leads the coach to tell someone ‘Sorry, you can’t be a part of this’ because there was a cut,” Stecher said. “You need to leave the program in good standing if you leave early. I didn’t want to jeopardize the programs.”

It does sound like something a Sedin would say, doesn’t it?

jbotchford@postmedia.com

twitter.com/botchford

Source: Signing Troy Stecher was no slam dunk for Canucks | Vancouver Sun