A Long-Term Look at the Canucks Salary Cap Situation

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 12:56 am by Ryan Biech

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Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

With the Canucks a mere few weeks from the NHL trade deadline, it’s time to take stock of the position from which they’re operating. For the purpose of today’s exercise, we’ll prioritize fiscal assets ahead of personnel.

Having a clearer picture of what the Canucks have regarding their forwards, defence, goaltending, dollars and contracts will provide insight into some moves, if they happen, in the coming weeks.

Over the course of the next month, I will be able to use this snapshot to analyze, suggest some ideas,  and create discussion, but for today, we are just visualizing where the organization stands.

We are operating under a few assumptions here:

Those are obvious exclusions that will happen, and thus the plan will change if any of those things change. This is, however, more of a ‘taking stock’ of where they stand.

Forwards

Returning Forwards: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Derek Dorsett, Jannik Hansen, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Jake Virtanen, Michael Carcone, Yan-Pavel Laplante, Cole Cassels

Pending RFA: Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce, Michael Chaput, Reid Boucher

Pending UFA: Alexandre Burrows, Jack Skille, Jayson Megna

Pending RFA in Utica: Joseph Labate, Mike Zalewski

Pending Group VI UFA: Alexandre Grenier, Borna Rendulic, Anton Rodin

To start next season, the Canucks have eight forwards already signed for next season with Virtanen as a possibility to make the team and Carcone likely making his way back to Utica for another year of development.

Obviously, the Canucks will re-sign Horvat.

I would expect the Canucks to keep Gaunce, and likely keep one or both of Chaput or Boucher as depth forwards. Anton Rodin is a pending Group VI UFA, which I explained in December.

Grenier and Rendulic are pending Group VI UFA, which I explained in January.

Here’s the outlook with those players currently on the NHL roster:

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 9.03.29 AM

They have $32,275,000 committed to their forwards for next season.

Defence

Returning Defencemen: Alexander Edler, Christopher Tanev, Luca Sbisa, Ben Hutton, Troy Stecher, Alex Biega, Jordan Subban, Guillaume Brisebois, Olli Juolevi, Aston Sautner, McKenzie Stewart, Anton Cederholm

Pending RFA: Erik Gudbranson, Nikita Tryamkin

Pending UFA: Philip Larsen

Pending RFA in Utica: Andrey Pedan, Tom Nilsson, Evan McEneny

Pending UFA in Utica: Chad Billins

Pending Group VI UFA: None

It’s clear that the Canucks have some depth on the back end.

At this moment, the Canucks would start next season with Edler, Tanev, Sbisa, Hutton, Gudbranson, Tryamkin and Stecher as the top 7. That would mean that Subban, Biega, Brisebois, and Sautner are on their way to Utica.

Here is the breakdown of salaries for the Canucks defensive group that is currently on the NHL roster:

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 9.28.55 AM

At this moment, the Canucks have $17,525,000 committed to their defence for next season.

Subban and Sautner would likely start the year in Utica; Stewart and Cederholm may remain in Utica, or head to the ECHL, and or again be loaned (like Cederholm is this year). Brisebois will likely turn pro next season and join the Comets.

I would expect the Canucks to qualify McEneny and Pedan for depth within the organization, and veteran players in the AHL.

Juolevi is a possibility to make the NHL roster, it may just depend on movement within the current ranks, or simply beating out Biega in training camp next season.

Goaltenders

Returning Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko, Richard Bachman

Pending RFA: None

Pending UFA: Ryan Miller

Pending RFA in ECHL: Michael Garteig

It’s clear that Demko and Bachman will likely be the tandem in Utica for next season, and Markstrom will occupy one of the spots in Vancouver.

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 11.01.42 AM

The Canucks currently have $3,666,667 committed to their NHL goalies next season, with the need for a backup still to be settled.

Misc contracts

Buyout: Christopher Higgins ($833,333 until 2017/18 season)

Retained Salary: Roberto Luongo ($800,000 until 2021/22 season)

They will be labelled as ‘dead weight’ in the graphs below; don’t read too much into the title of them.

Draft Picks

Canucks have a few players that are currently unsigned, but they Canucks retain their rights. They are on the ‘reserve list’, which do not count towards the 50 contract limit but are important to cover when looking at the long-term picture. Last month, I spoke about the 2015 draft class, but it’s good to cover it all again:

Canucks retain the player’s rights as follows:

Until June 1, 2017

  • Carl Neill (D)
  • Tate Olson (D)

Until June 1, 2018

  • Cole Candella (D)
  • Jakob Stukel (F)
  • Rodrigo Abols (F)
  • Brett McKenzie (C)

Until June 1, 2019 (as per Article 8.6d in the NHL CBA)

  • Dmitry Zhukenov (C)
  • Lukas Jasek (F)

Until August 15th, 2019 (as per Article 8.6c (i) in the NHL CBA)

  • Brock Boeser
  • Adam Gaudette 

Until August 15th, 2020 (as per Article 8.6c (i) in the NHL CBA)

  • William Lockwood

Looking ahead to next season

When we look at the 2017-18 season, they have already committed the following:

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 2.34.17 PM

The Canucks have 27 players under contract for next season, and 12 pending RFA.

Once again, given that the salary cap is expected to remain flat, the Canucks have the following dollars committed:

$ value - next season

Alternatively, you can view those numbers in percentages of the cap:

Cap Space %

These figures obviously exclude any of the pending RFA that still need to be signed.

Conclusion

With Horvat, Gudbranson, and Tryamkin all pending RFA – a lot of that cap space that becomes available at the end of the season will get eaten up quickly. That’s not to say there isn’t space; it’s just that the $17,900,000 can appear misleading.

Assuming that Gudbranson remains flat, Horvat comes in around ~$4.5M per season, and then Tryamkin signs a ‘bridge deal’ – the Canucks are suddenly below $10.0M in cap space with a couple of spots to fill, primarily the forward ranks.

It also depends on who Las Vegas selects in the expansion draft, if they take defenceman Luca Sbisa, then there is, even more, breathing room next season.

All of that isn’t to say, that the Canucks aren’t in a good position this summer regarding the salary cap.

When looking at Utica – they are going to be set in goal, have a plethora of young defenceman, but thin in the forward groups. 

If the Canucks retain all of their pending RFA, sign Neill, Olson and Jasek (which Jim Benning mentioned wanting to do this summer) – the Canucks will have 42 contracts.

Looking at the long term picture, the Canucks are well positioned with multiple contracts coming off the books each year. Apparently some players may return, but they aren’t saddled with multiple bad contracts for years to come. Every year, there is a bit of a reprieve.


All salary cap information from www.nhlnumbers.com