Often overlooked, underrated, Garland is ready for the big stage with the Canucks – .

Often overlooked, underrated, Garland is ready for the big stage with the Canucks – .

VANCOUVER – Conor Garland has heard that the Vancouver market is tough.
Yeah, whatever, hockey is too when you’re five-foot-eight, been kicked out of Bantam teams, ignored in the National Hockey League Draft, and been skinned on a regular basis – in the minors.

“I heard that,” Garland said Sportsnet when asked about the alleged negativity in a market. “But that stuff doesn’t bother me at all. I’m probably my toughest critic and I consider hockey a privilege to be able to play, and you have to understand that people are going to say things about you whether you’re playing in Arizona, Vancouver, or Toronto.

“If I drive my car and hear someone on the radio say I’m a bad player, I’m not going to mind a bit. I’m more excited to go to a city where on Friday night the most important thing (in town) is the game in progress, and I’m one of the players on the team. Whether they’re negative or positive, it’s not going to affect me. I’m just happy to play in a market that’s as excited as I am for the team.

It’s impossible for a National Hockey League player to hide in Canada, and Garland, a native of Scituate, Mass., On the South Shore outside of Boston, just got bigger with the contract extension. Tuesday’s $ 24.75 million with the Canucks. .

The contract makes the 25-year-old winger an integral part of the Canucks ‘core and becomes a milestone in Garland’s underdogs’ journey through hockey.

He left Shattuck-St. Mary’s Academy at age 14 when the Minnesota boarding school, famous for its hockey programs, removed Garland from its Bantam team. The coach told him he was too small.

Garland played Junior B hockey in Boston, then briefly in Muskegon, Mich., In the United States Hockey League before moving to Moncton in 2012 to play major junior hockey for the Wildcats at the age of 16. .

At the end of his second season, Garland was bypassed by the NHL in his first year of draft eligibility. But teams couldn’t ignore his 2014-15 campaign when Garland co-led the Canadian Hockey League with 129 points, including 94 assists, in 67 games. The Arizona Coyotes drafted him – 123rd overall.

It took him two and a half years in the American League to try his luck with the Coyotes. Over the past two seasons, Garland has gone from Arizona’s fourth line to number one.

The Canucks coveted Garland, all for speed, skill and energy, but didn’t believe he would be available until the Coyotes were willing to include him in Friday’s blockbuster that brought back defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and $ 43.56 million in wage cap obligations in Vancouver.

“I’ve been told ‘no’ a lot of people and I’ve been cut off from a lot of teams so I’m competing and still trying to prove a lot of people wrong and play with a chip on my shoulder.” Garland said. “I would be lying to you if I didn’t say there are (thoughts today) about people who never thought I would play in the NHL or get this far.

He said he got his work ethic from his parents. His father, Garry, who played college hockey and spent a season bouncing around minors, runs a roofing business. His mother, Bridget, worked in a cemetery as a station foreman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Garland has three sisters. The older two played lacrosse in college.

“Seeing my mom leave for work every night at 11 pm kind of shaped the way I played,” Garland said. “If my parents were willing to sacrifice so much, then I better be willing to sacrifice so much too.

“There was never any doubt for me that I was going to play in the NHL. There never was a day… when I thought I wasn’t going to be an NHL player – and a really good NHL player. I still think I still have a long way to go to be the player I think I can be, so I’m optimistic about that as well.

The Canucks are obviously also bullish, betting strongly that Garland’s game will continue to evolve and become more impactful. But, who is expected to play with second-row center Bo Horvat, Garland could grow into a 60-70 point player with the Canucks and surpass his average salary by $ 4.95 million.

There are no signing bonuses or trade restrictions in his new contract.

Twenty-three of Garland’s 39 points last season came in 21 games against the weak California West Division. But the right winger pushes possession, is consistently engaged, and improves Vancouver’s speed, skill and scoring depth.

At 180 pounds, Garland’s build and relentlessness are similar to Canucks rookie Nils Hoglander.

The Canucks’ longest contracts now belong to Ekman-Larsson (six), Garland and goaltender Thatcher Demko (five). Five days ago two of these guys weren’t even on the team.

This is how quickly things change around the Canucks core. GM Jim Benning’s biggest signings are yet to come as the Canucks work to secure interim deals for franchise players Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.

To help pay for it all, Benning bought back substitute goalie Braden Holtby as they announced Garland’s overtime. Unable to trade Holtby after the Seattle Kraken bypassed him in the expansion draft, the Canucks couldn’t afford his cap of $ 4.3 million as a replacement for Demko. The buyout opens up $ 3.8 million of cap space for next season, but adds a charge of $ 1.9 million in 2022-23.

Reflecting the pace of change and the urgency with which it occurs, the Canucks bought back two players in three days – longtime winger Jake Virtanen was paid on Sunday – equaling the number of buyouts executed in the first seven years from Benning’s time. in charge.

Despite severe limitations on cap space and tradable assets, the GM pledged after the last place finish this season to be “aggressive” to improve the Canucks through trades, buyouts and redemptions. free agencies.

We’ve seen the trades and redemptions, and free agency opens on the west coast Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The Canucks will be looking for an experienced, inexpensive replacement for Holtby, a few defensemen – they’ve already been linked in reports to deep defenseman Luke Schenn – and possibly another forward.

After the deal on Tuesday, CapFriendly showed the Canucks $ 20.14 million in cap space available – and at least six players short of a 20-man lineup in the NHL.

There is much more to come.


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