Trade rumors dogged the Vancouver Canucks in the weeks leading up to their firing of GM Jim Benning. The addition of Jim Rutherford as president of hockey operations last week created more uncertainty.
Rutherford, after all, garnered a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer during his tenure as GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he indicated he's not in any hurry to make trades during his introductory press conference with the Vancouver media on Monday.
While Rutherford acknowledged he's capable of fulfilling the role of general manager he stressed his focus is on finding someone else to fill that position. He's already compiled a list of 40 candidates consisting in part of former general managers and current assistant GMs whom Rutherford could mentor in the Canucks job.
Rutherford admitted he received calls from rival clubs interested in certain players before he even arrived in Vancouver. Their targets could include core players such as J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser and team captain Bo Horvat. They figured prominently in media trade chatter prior to the club's recent front-office purge.
Those players, however, are now less likely to be moved than they possibly were a couple of weeks ago. Rutherford acknowledged the Canucks roster has holes and didn't rule out making a deal if presented with the right offer but claimed he won't be making a lot of calls. He also said he doesn't plan on moving their high draft picks to make changes to the roster.
The Canucks' lack of salary cap space could restrict Rutherford and his new GM from making significant additions this season. Much will also depend on the Canucks performance over the rest of the regular season.