Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports
The Vancouver Canucks have engaged Luca Sbisa’s representatives in contract extension talks, according to News 1130 Sports.
“Preliminary talks underway,” Sbisa’s Swiss based agent Andre Rufener of Rufener Hockey LLC told News 1130 sports, “the team first expressed interest in early February.”
Read on past the jump for more.
We’ve discussed Sbisa’s contract status at length in the recent past, in part because the pending restricted free agent is currently signed to a very odd second contract, one that will likely serve to complicate negotiations this summer.
Sbisa’s deal is backloaded salary wise, so though his cap hit for the 2014-15 season comes in at a relatively affordable $2.175 million, his salary – at $2.9 million – is expensive for a depth defender.
Perhaps most importantly from the Canucks’ perspective is that the value of Sbisa’s qualifying offer – which the Canucks will have to tender to him in order to preserve their rights of first refusal in contract negotiations – is tied to his salary and not to his cap-hit. In plain english: the Canucks have to offer Sbisa the equivalent of a one-year contract worth $2.9 million in order to preserve the 25-year-old defenseman’s restricted free agent rights.
That’s a lot of dough for a player who struggled enormously in the first half of the season, and has continued to struggle since. CanucksArmy.com managing editor Rhys Jessop looked at Sbisa’s performance in-depth recently, and his conclusions were not particularly flattering to the physical depth defender:
Despite a rather significant upswing in offensive zone starts, Sbisa’s Corsi For percentage and Scoring Chance percentage have remained close enough to his first half rates that we can say they’re basically the same. Sbisa is still getting routinely out-possessed and, more concerningly, remaining extremely permissive as far as scoring chances against go….
Sbisa is a well below average penalty killer in a group of elite ones, and not just by relative measures either. Of the 111 NHL D that have seen over 100 minutes of penalty kill time this season, Sbisa is 69th in shots against per minute, and a significantly worse shot suppressor than Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, and Dan Hamhuis. Relative to his teammates, Sbisa has the 7th worst shorthanded shots against per minute rate of this same group of 111 regular penalty killing defenders.
There’s really no sugar coating it: right now Sbisa is not good enough to be an NHL regular. He’s been terrible this season, and terrible for every other season of his NHL career. Since 2012, he has been one of the very worst defensemen to receive regular NHL minutes.
In fairness to Sbisa we should mention that he’s a good skater, he’s physical, he’s still young, and he’s versatile in that he can play either side. He’s also been a durable presence on a Vancouver back-end that has dealt with more than its fair share of injuries this season. There’s surely value in that.
Is there $2.9 million worth of value in that? Not when you consider Vancouver’s salary cap situation, in my view.
Following Chris Tanev’s recent extension the Canucks currently have slightly over $60 million committed against the cap to nine forwards, four defenseman, two goaltenders and Roberto Luongo for the 2015-16 season. Factor in their relative depth on defense (Ryan Stanton, who is probably a comparable player to Sbisa will cost roughly a fifth as much to qualify) and it would seem to me that signing Sbisa to a decently sized ticket – or even extending him a qualifying offer – would represent a suboptimal allocation of resources.