The Abbotsford Canucks roster will likely have some changes for 2022-23 season, with some players returning and some being shown the door. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

The Abbotsford Canucks roster will likely have some changes for 2022-23 season, with some players returning and some being shown the door. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Abbotsford Canucks offseason outlook

Who’s returning, who could be on the way out after inaugural season

With the Abbotsford Canucks elimination from the American Hockey League playoffs last week, the offseason can officially begin.

AHL rosters typically feature significant turnover from year-to-year and it’s likely that come next fall the Abbotsford team will look a lot different.

One thing Canucks fans do know is that head coach Trent Cull and his entire coaching staff will be back, as general manager Ryan Johnson confirmed that last week.

RELATED: Abbotsford Canucks entire coaching staff returning for 2022-23

The following players are under contract and are eligible to return to Abbotsford next season:

  • Forward – Vincent Arseneau (42 games played – 11 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Justin Dowling (15 GP – 14 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Carson Focht (41 GP – 10 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Marc Gatcomb (6 GP – zero points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Danila Klimovich (62 GP – 18 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Tristen Nielsen (41 GP – 11 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Karel Plasek (8 GP – zero points in 2021-22)
  • Goalie – Arturs Silovs (10 GP – 3.10 GAA, .888 save percentage, 3-6-0)
  • Defenceman – Jett Woo (42 GP – eight points in 2021-22)

Forward Arshdeep Bains, who led the Western Hockey League in scoring this past season, was also signed to a three-year entry-level deal back in March. He is expected to battle for a roster spot in Abbotsford.

The following players are unrestricted free agents and can sign with any club as of 9 a.m. Abbotsford time on July 13:

  • Forward – Justin Bailey (30 GP – 27 points in 2021-22)
  • Defenceman – Madison Bowey (53 GP – 28 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Phil Di Giuseppe (42 GP – 36 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Sheldon Dries (54 GP – 62 points in 2021-22)
  • Defenceman – Noah Juulsen (50 GP – 16 points in 2021-22)*
  • Forward – Jarid Lukosevicius (62 GP – 19 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Nic Petan (37 GP – 44 points in 2021-22)
  • Forward – Sheldon Rempal (55 GP – 69 points in 2021-22)*
  • Defenceman – Ashton Sautner (41 GP – 13 points in 2021-22)
  • Defenceman – Devante Stephens (59 GP – 15 points in 2021-22)*
  • Forward – John Stevens (68 GP – 43 points in 2021-22)

* Juulsen, Rempal and Stephens all qualified as a Group 6 UFA because all three are 25 or older, have completed three professional seasons and have played fewer than 80 NHL games. UFA status is usually only acquired by the time a player is 27 or has seven accrued seasons.

RELATED: Abbotsford Canucks head coach Trent Cull reflects on inaugural season

The following players are restricted free agents, meaning the Canucks can make a qualifying offer to retain their rights:

  • Defenceman – Guillaume Brisebois (26 GP – seven points in 2021-22)
  • Goalie – Michael DiPietro (34 GP – 2.95 GAA, .901 save percentage 15-13-4)
  • Forward – Will Lockwood (46 GP – 25 points in 2021-22)
  • Defenceman – Jack Rathbone (39 GP – 40 points in 2021-22)*
  • Forward – Chase Wouters (60 GP – 18 points in 2021-22)

*Rathbone is designated as a 10.2(c) player, meaning that he does not meet UFA or Group 2 RFA requirements and has been issued a qualifying offer by Vancouver. Rathbone can only negotiate with Vancouver and cannot sign an offer sheet with any other team.

It’s likely that Rathbone and Lockwood will end up in Vancouver next season. Lockwood played 13 games in Vancouver in 2021-22 and Rathbone played nine.

Another Abbotsford Canucks player who will not be returning is goalie Spencer Martin. He signed a one-way, two-year contract on April 8.

Defenceman Alex Kannok Leipert (41 GP – five points in 2021-22) and forwards Ethan Keppen (11 GP – zero points) and Chase Wouters (60 GP – 18 points in 2021-22) are also all free agents and can sign elsewhere after July 13.

There is also the possibility that Vancouver players clear waivers next season and join the team in Abbotsford. The next big event for the organization is the NHL Draft on July 7 and 8. Vancouver currently has the 15th overall pick and they next make a selection in round three, 79th overall.

RELATED: City of Abbotsford, Canucks meeting about potential upgrades to Abbotsford Centre

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