It is reported that the Vancouver Canucks have finally made their decision on whether or not to buy out Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows. Per Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 radio, the Canucks will be buying out Higgins and retaining Alex Burrows for the upcoming season.
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) June 26, 2016
By buying out the remaining year on Higgins’ contract, the Canucks will have just under $11 million in cap space free for free agency. The breakdown for Higgins’ buyout will see him count against the Canucks cap for $833,333 over the next two seasons, courtesy of General Fanager.
Higgins spent time with both the Canucks and the Utica Comets last season. With the Comets, he recorded 13 points in 22 games while only recording four points in the 33 NHL games he played in this year. Originally acquired in the 2010-11 season, Chris Higgins appeared in 314 games for Vancouver and recorded 62 goals and 142 points.
As for Burrows, the 35 year-old winger will remain on the Canucks roster for the 2015-16 season. He is on the final year of his contract which has a $4.5 million cap hit. Should the Canucks have bought out the veteran winger, the would have saved an additional $2 million in cap space this year, then cost Vancouver $1 million in the 2017-18 season.
The decision to buy out Higgins allows the Canucks to offer more money towards a big fish in the free agent market. With Jim Benning being public about his interest in Steven Stamkos, Milan Lucic, and other big name players, they are going to need all the cap space they can to afford one or two of their targets.
Ever since there were rumours of Stamkos going to free agency, the Canucks have been heavily linked. The consensus amongst insiders is that Stamkos will likely sign a contract for max length (seven years) in the $10-$11 million range. If the Canucks had opted to not buy out Higgins, they would have been in tough to give Stamkos a competitive offer.
While the decision to keep Burrows is a difficult one, the Canucks are likely restricted to affording only one of the other big names on the open market by retaining him.