Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning never doubted he would sign Jack Rathbone in the end.
Jim Benning had his man.
The Vancouver Canucks and star prospect Jack Rathbone agreed on a three-year entry contract on Tuesday.
The defender’s contract will start immediately, which means it will last two more seasons beyond the end of the current season.
A fourth-round draft pick in 2017 for the Canucks, the left-skid defenseman has played the past two seasons for Harvard University. He scored 31 points in 28 games last season for the Crimson.
Benning said he was delighted to have Rathbone signed.
“We are happy to do it now,” he said.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rathbone was seen as an under-the-radar discovery by Benning, former screening director Judd Brackett and his screening team.
Benning also gave credit to former scout Mike Adessa, who he said knew the Rathbone family well.
The Canucks had told Rathbone advisor Jerry Buckley at the end of the NCAA season that they were interested in signing the 21-year-old. Rathbone and his family took their time to make their decision.
They called Benning on Tuesday morning.
Benning, now in his sixth year at the helm of the Canucks, said he was never worried about signing Rathbone. He credited the efforts of his development team, Ryan Johnson and Chris Higgins, both former college students and pros, for building a relationship with all of the college’s draft picks.
“We support our players, when we draft them, we stay in touch with them,” he said.
Rathbone is not allowed to play for the Canucks in the game round, but he can still join the team to some extent for training camp, although Benning has acknowledged that they must speak with the Ministry of Health.
“We have to see what her quarantine looks like,” he said. “He should definitely do it two weeks. ”
As for the 2020-21 season, which has a lot of unknowns when it comes to the American Hockey League, Benning said it was too far. Rathbone could play in Europe as an alternative, but the GM suggested that this has not yet been discussed.
“Let’s get through this year,” he said.
Miller another probably
Like any father-athlete who chose to resume his season, JT Miller said that it was incredibly difficult to leave your family to return to Vancouver.
“I miss a big part of their lives, my little girls change every day,” he said Tuesday after the Vancouver Canucks’ second day of return to play training camp.
But there was no doubt in his mind about his return. A hockey player’s career is short, he said. And he has the incredible support of his wife.
In addition, he is fortunate to have a lot of family support for his wife near his off-season home outside of Pittsburgh.
He knows his time in professional hockey is short. There was no way he would give up on his team and his wife agreed.
“It is a privilege to be in the NHL,” he said.
Roussel’s first camp
Antoine Roussel is still a media favorite. He always has something to say.
So it’s not surprising that when he sat in front of the camera to take turns speaking at Zoom’s daily press conference, he sported a big smile and even played in a playful way with the camera.
The Frenchman was quick to point out that this is also, in fact, his first Canucks training camp. He missed his first camp in 2018 due to a concussion at the end of summer, then was in the process of rehabilitating his knee when the first training camp of camp 2019-2020 took place last September in Victoria.
He was starting to find his rhythm as a player when the season ended in March.
It was difficult to stay off the ice for so long – the rinks did not reopen until the end of June in Quebec – placing him behind the eight-ball skate, but it also meant that he put more distance between the current knee surgery and last year’s surgery.
“It gave me more time to work with my knee,” he said.
He did what he could to stay in shape, but there is no doubt that he had to accept a less than optimal training situation. He tried to order weights and ropes to allow him to train at home, but found that almost everything he wanted was already exhausted by the time he looked.
“If you wait two minutes, go,” he laughed.
Rafferty joins the main group
Brogan Rafferty, who racked up points on the Utica Comets blue line in 2019-2020, joined the Canucks main group on Tuesday, skating as the eighth defender alongside Jordie Benn.
Jalen Chatfield, who spent much of the regular season with the Canucks as a defenseman but never participated in a game, was in place of Rafferty on Monday.
Head coach Travis Green acknowledged that the roster is definitely up for grabs.