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Eriksson's remarks about coach Green don't concern Canucks

GM says forward's comments were not 'as egregious as people think'

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Loui Eriksson's comments this offseason regarding his relationship with coach Travis Green have not worried the Vancouver Canucks, general manager Jim Benning said Thursday.

Benning said he talked to Eriksson on Monday, more than two months after the forward told a Swedish website that he and Green "don't really get along 100 percent."

"I think his comments, I don't think they were as egregious as people think," Benning said. "He is just trying to be honest with the situation, but we had a really good conversation and that will stay between Loui and I and we will continue to talk and work things out." 

That could include trading Eriksson, who has three seasons remaining on a six-year contract with an average annual value of $6 million. Benning talked Thursday about the possibility of Eriksson starting the season with the Canucks. Eriksson's agent, J.P. Barry, said in a radio interview that the sides have explored the possibility of a trade. 

"It's gone past any kind of request," Barry told TSN Radio 1040 on Wednesday. "I think we're all just working together to look for a solution, really, is what we've been doing. It's not an easy thing. I think any kind of transaction would have to involve a player on another team in a similar situation, and we all know that, so we've all looked around the League and this could be the time of year, when after you get through free agency, after you get a better idea of everyone's [NHL salary cap] positions, that those kind of changes could still happen over the next several weeks."

Video: Latest on Eriksson situation in Vancouver

Eriksson signed in Vancouver as a free agent after scoring 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in 82 games with the Boston Bruins in 2015-16. He has 76 points (32 goals, 44 assists) in 196 games with the Canucks over the past three seasons. Eriksson, who will turn 34 on July 17, has seen his role diminish under Green, with more checking duties and fewer opportunities on the power play and top two lines. 

Eriksson averaged 2:28 per game on the power play his first season in Vancouver, under coach Willie Desjardins. The next season, Green's first as coach, Eriksson played 1:24 per game, and that dropped to 1:16 last season, 13th among Canucks forwards. He was a healthy scratch in March for the first time with the Canucks and finished the season with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 81 games. 

"It is difficult when I do not get the same trust that I received from all the other coaches I had during my career," Eriksson told in May. "Of course, it is tough on that front."

Trading Eriksson would free up money to help sign restricted free agent forwards Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin. That would give the Canucks 17 forwards who played in the NHL last season.

"We have the months before the season starts and I am going to continue to see if I can move a player, and if I can't, everyone is going to come to camp and we are going to have competition from within for jobs and ice time, and I think that's going to be a good thing," Benning said.

Benning said the Canucks can remain salary cap compliant and keep everyone by putting forward Antoine Roussel, who is expected to be out until late November or early December after knee surgery, on long-term injury reserve.

As for Eriksson, Benning wouldn't rule out keeping him too.

"He's still a useful player for us," Benning said. "He can kill penalties, play a matchup role against other team's top lines, he's a good two-way player, so we'll continue to look at our options and see if something makes sense and talk to Loui and see where he's at and go from there."

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