Christopher Tanev said he is hoping to be teammates with Quinn Hughes on the Vancouver Canucks well beyond this season.
"I'd love to stay here and play with Quinn as long as I'm able to," Tanev said Tuesday. "I think we played great together when we did this year and I think we both enjoyed it. … I think he's an extremely dynamic player that is only going to get better and better for this organization, and it was pretty special what he did this year."
Tanev, a 30-year-old defenseman who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, has been frequently paired with Hughes, who led rookies with 53 points (eight goals, 45 assists) in 68 games this season and played in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
Last week, Hughes discussed how important Tanev has been to him during his rookie season.
"Chris has probably played the biggest role for me, on and off the ice, my first year," Hughes said. "He's been extremely important for the team; I think he's a leader in the locker room and a guy that everyone likes, so that would be a huge blow if we lost him (in free agency). I think that [general manager] Jim [Benning] and the coaching staff understand his value. It's not my business, but I would think they're going to do the best they can to make a deal."
The Canucks, who haven't qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2014-15 season, were 36-27-6 (.565 points percentage) this season and will enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 10 seed, the Minnesota Wild (35-27-7, .558), in one of eight best-of-5 series, with the winner advancing to the playoffs and the loser having a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.
"I'm ready to play hockey," Tanev said. "I think I can get a contract regardless. I feel like I'm going to play well. If we play playoffs, then I'm confident in my abilities. If the [NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement] does get voted through, you take all those things into effect."
Video: LAK@VAN: Tanev taps home Hughes' feed to extend lead
The NHL and the NHL Players' Association announced Monday that they have agreed in principle on a memorandum of understanding for a four-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement, through the 2025-26 season.
Tanev, who sustained a lower-body injury March 10 in the Canucks' final game before the NHL season was paused two days later due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, said he is healthy for the qualifiers.
"I feel good," he said. "I did tweak my knee a bit in the last game of the year and probably would've missed five or six games, but it felt great to play in [all 69 games] of the season and I felt good, strong and like I was playing well."
The Canucks skated June 30 for the first time under the NHL Return to Play Plan. Phase 2, which began June 8, allowed for voluntary workouts on and off the ice in small groups at team facilities. Tanev has been skating in a group with defensemen Alexander Edler, Troy Stecher and Tyler Myers, and forwards Jake Virtanen and Micheal Ferland.
Tanev, the second-longest tenured Canucks player (he has played with them since 2010-11), tied his NHL career high with 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 69 games this season; only Edler (2006-07) has been with Vancouver longer. Tanev played three games in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, when the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games, and played in five playoff games that season, his first in the NHL. Vancouver reached the playoffs four of his first five seasons.
"I was fortunate enough, my first few years in the League, to be able to play in the playoffs, and we haven't been able to do it in the recent years, so I think (young) guys understand that," Tanev said about Hughes and forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. "I don't need to go and tell them that it's not a given that you're going to make the playoffs every year. Guys are smart and our young guys are our best players, and they'll be ready to go.
"You never know when you're going to get the next chance. … you want to go out and try to seize the opportunity."
Provided health and safety conditions allow, the opening of training camps in the teams' local markets, which is the start of Phase 3, is scheduled for July 13. Teams will then travel July 26 to one of two hub cities, where they will begin Phase 4, the resumption of play, with the qualifiers starting Aug. 1. The hub cities have not been announced.
"We have just as good of a shot as anyone to win this thing, so I think we're going to be ready to go once the puck drops," Tanev said. "I think when we were healthy, we could play anyone this year and go toe-to-toe with them. [Goalie Jacob Markstrom] was great. … We can beat anyone."