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Boeser signing remains biggest priority for Canucks

'Our options are open on both' short- and long-term contracts, GM Benning says

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Brock Boeser signing a new contract in time for the start of training camp Sept. 13 remains the top priority for the Vancouver Canucks.

"We're optimistic he's going (to sign) or be signed for next week coming into camp," general manager Jim Benning said Wednesday.

The 22-year-old restricted free agent forward was third on the Canucks with 56 points (26 goals, 30 assists) in 69 games last season (he missed 13 games with a groin injury). Benning said he has discussed short-term and long-term contracts with Boeser's agent, Ben Hankinson.

"Our options are open on both," Benning said. "We want to figure out something that's fair for the team here moving forward with all these good young players we have, and that's fair to the player. We are just trying to find that common ground, and when we get to that common ground we'll get a deal done."

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Boeser had 55 points (29 goals, 26 assists) in 62 games in 2017-18 and finished second in Calder Trophy voting as NHL rookie of the year behind Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders. 

Benning, who met with the media Wednesday after restricted free agent forward Nikolay Goldobin signed a one-year, $900,000 contract, also talked about the future of veteran forward Loui Eriksson and the health of defenseman prospect Olli Juolevi. 

Eriksson, who has three years remaining on a six-year contract, told a Sweden website in May that he and coach Travis Green "don't really get along 100 percent" and expressed concerns about his role and lack of offensive opportunity. 

Benning said Eriksson, who had 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in 82 games with the Boston Bruins in 2015-16 but has 76 points (32 goals, 44 assists) in 196 games in three seasons with the Canucks, is in Vancouver and planning to sit down and talk with Green.

"He's going to have to come into camp and have a good camp and we are going to find where he fits," Benning said. "He hasn't scored like his contract kind of dictated he would score but he's still a pretty good penalty-killer, he plays in a matchup role, and at the end of the year he played with Bo [Horvat] and [Tanner] Pearson and that was a good line. We have to find the fit for him during camp."

Juolevi, who was selected by the Canucks with the No. 5 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft but has yet to play an NHL game, has been cleared for contact in his recovery from Dec. 18 knee surgery and will be "full speed ahead" at the start of prospect camp Saturday.

"Over the course of training camp there will be some days we have to pull him off the ice depending how it goes," Benning said. "This is normal rehab coming off major knee surgery."

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