First Look: The Vancouver Canucks Make a Sound Bet on Eriksson

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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline of USA Today Sports

For the Vancouver Canucks, no need was greater than that of their offence which combined for a 29th worst 2.27 goals-per-game last season. Signing Loui Eriksson to a six-year, $36-million contract is a step in the right direction. Perhaps not enough to buttress their attack to among the league’s best, but enough to make them competitive in the interim.

Eriksson, 30, can contribute anywhere from 20-30 goals in any given season. Of this much, there is no doubt. Beyond that, Eriksson’s consistently driven the run of play with a two-way game that is the envy of many a forward. The Canucks are getting their money’s worth. At least for the first few seasons.

Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Though, to the Canucks credit, they’re in a better position than most to make that gamble. Eriksson’s played with the Sedin’s. Hell, he’s played for Willie Desjardins in Dallas and even been acquired by Jim Benning before in Boston. They know what they’re getting themselves into, but for those of us that don’t, I’ll unpack what the Canucks have hitched their wagon to.

The Contract

We’ve already covered the basics about Eriksson’s contract, but it’s by no means a ‘basic’ deal. Like many a contract signed yesterday, Eriksson’s is heavily bonus laden and comes with no-movement and no-trade protection. Though you could maybe stomach a buyout in the final year of Eriksson’s deal, it’s virtually impossible to justify in years one through six.

I’m no expert at interpreting the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but based on my interpretation of the ruling, the Canucks would only be able to save just north of $500,000 against the cap for each year of Eriksson’s buyout, up to year five, if they were to buy Eriksson’s contract out in any year prior to year six. In the event that they buy out the final year of Eriksson’s contract, they’ll save $2-million for that season and take on an additional cap charge of $1-million the next.

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(Image courtesy of www.GeneralFanager.com)


Though there’s no way the Canucks can justify buying him out until year six — and remember, this is just a worst-case scenario — it’s important to note that the low salary associated with Eriksson’s deal will make it very appealing to internally budget franchises looking to reach the salary floor. Eriksson’s salary in years five and six are a palatable $4-million. And depending on the date of any hypothetical trade, that number can be cut significantly by the Canucks’ timing the deal so that they’re the ones paying Eriksson’s bonus.

Eriksson’s contract is unique and carries with it a set of logistical hurdles that could prove nightmarish in the event of a worst-case scenario — a possibility that’s worth considering given his concussion history, which includes two such occasions over a relatively short time in Boston.

I wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest that Eriksson’s agent took the Canucks to the cleaners, though. My original sources indicated that the Canucks might be looking at a deal that paid Eriksson closer to $6.7-million annually. If making these concessions — be they in the form of bonuses or no-move and no-trade protection — are the cost associated with shaving dollars off the annual average value then they could prove prudent when the Canucks are in their competitive window again.

The Player

Eriksson is probably the most consistently underrated forward of the last decade. Though he doesn’t have any one elite skill, the sum of his parts makes for a very enticing package. Since 2010, Eriksson’s tied with five skaters as the 88th most prolific point producer at even-strength. One such skater is Alex Ovechkin. It’s a much more impressive accolade than it appears at first glance. 

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And while Eriksson’s even strength offence is certainly nothing to baulk at, his ability to consistently tilt the ice towards the opposition’s net is his single greatest skill. Since the dawn of the Behind the Net Era in 2007-08, Eriksson’s amassed just two seasons in the red by standard possession metrics on relatively weak Dallas Stars’ sides.

Which brings us to why Eriksson will fit so incredibly well alongside the Sedins. It’s not just a matter of Eriksson being able to feed off their creativity and reap the rewards offensively. It all starts in the Canucks zone, where Eriksson will look to bring an added element of defensive impact the Canucks top line has lacked without Alexandre Burrows these last few seasons.

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The Twins remain elite offensive forwards, but their ability to suppress the opposition’s offence has been in steep decline for three seasons. Not only by raw underlying metrics, but relative ones as well. That their relative Corsi against per sixty has been on a steep incline for three seasons in which the Canucks weren’t particularly stout defensively is a distressing reflection of their ageing and one Benning was wise to address.

Eriksson is suffering no such ills at this stage in his career. In fact, one could reasonably argue that he’s in the midst of his prime as a two-way player. His relative defensive impact might suggest he’s on par with the Sedins, but that’s likely not the case. Eriksson’s primary centre in Boston was Carl Soderberg. This means that much of his relative defensive value is being accounted for relative to players that are skating alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. In Vancouver, where there’s nowhere near that calibre of player beyond the top line, Eriksson’s relative numbers should be considerably better.

Conclusion

Bringing Eriksson into the fold on a contract that will pay him $6-million into his age 37 season isn’t likely to appease rebuild-frenzied Canucks fans. These types of moves are usually reserved for contending clubs, looking to add that one final piece to get them over the top. For the Canucks though, getting over the top means making the playoffs next season and, ideally, every one after that. In that context, the Eriksson signing was a savvy decision.

It’s fair to wonder, though, just how well their prized acquisition will age. The hope is Eriksson will age like a fine wine. Much of what we’ve learned though suggests they’re far more likely to have a year’s worth of vinegar occupying a $6-million chunk of their cap. The Canucks are better, sure. It’s just a question of how much longer Eriksson makes them better.

  • Hockey Warrior

    OH dear – The usual DREAMERS and DELUDED idiots on here I see and the kicker is, not one of you is a season ticket holder eh.

    OK, so here’s your reality check window=lickers – when you finish 28th in the league with most of the WORST STATS in the NHL too boot, you need to make BOLD MOVES like Chiarelli, Tallon, Nill and Tim Murray have done. Adding just ERIKSSON and Gudbranson simply does NOT CUT IT.

    You need an IDENTITY, a mastermind coach, elite goaltending, a number one D-man with offensive upside, an elite top line and, in the ultra competitive Pacific, DEPTH (rolling four lines), Physical Presence, a solid PP and speed. Yeah, we have some speed, would’ve had an elite topper FOUR years ago, but the rest is a big fat ZERO for the Canucks i’m afraid.

    Here’s how the division pans out next season folks – read it and weep

    1. San Jose
    2. Los Angeles
    3. Edmonton (if they get that final D man)
    4. Anaheim
    5. Phoenix :p
    6. Calgary
    7. Vancouver

    In fact, IF the Ca-sucks make the playoffs i promise that you will NEVER hear from The HOCKEY WARRIOR on here again…

    • detox

      “OH dear – The usual DREAMERS and DELUDED idiots on here…”

      lol

      we are all here now….

      edit. are you suggesting the Oilers are a playoff team? how many times have you thought this over the last 5 summers? you resemble your own comments. a bridge somewhere is missing it’s troll.

    • TheRealPB

      “You need an IDENTITY, a mastermind coach, elite goaltending, a number one D-man with offensive upside, an elite top line and, in the ultra competitive Pacific, DEPTH (rolling four lines), Physical Presence, a solid PP and speed.”

      How is it that you are not gainfully employed by an NHL team? Literally no one has ever realized the above necessities in fielding a competitive hockey team.

    • sh1t4brains

      LMAO…you must be an over the hill “warrior” (i.e. over 50…cranky and crusty and not at all very logical).

      For ANY GM to make any BOLD moves (i.e. not of the stupid kind) that are effective, they need to have assets to play with.

      EDM’s move was logical, and expected given the pursuit of Lucic. Hall, unfortunately, was expendable. That was a no-brainer.

      IDENTITY? What does the Penguins have? crickets….
      Mastermind coach? Hmmm….Penguins have that?
      ELITE goalie….Penguins played who?
      Number one Dman….Penguins have who?
      Elite top line…for sure, they got Sidney and Malky
      Physical Presence…the Penguins? really?

      So…really…your rant is just want it is…an old buffoon’s rant because he couldn’t reach for his prep H!

  • detox

    Not sure why people think Eriksson will fall off a cliff after 3-4 years. There are lots of examples of old players that are still desirable players: the Sedins, Doan, Jagr, Datsyuk, Campbell, Thornton, Marleau, Chara and Iginla. St. Louis and Selanne were still excellent players when they retired.

  • krutov

    erikkson makes the canucks a better regular season team. he doesn’t move the dial nearly as much in the playoffs if they make it. but i would think management are not thinking about competing in the playoffs.

    so far benning is rebuilding while trying to support the sedins with one decent ufa forward. this keeps the sedins happy, and if it translates into a team that makes or competes for the playoffs it creates a better development environment for his players and it sells tickets too.

    erikkson costs $1 million more than vrbata and is 2 years younger than vrbata was when we signed him. he’s a better player than vrbata on every stat you can measure. vrbata is a big reason the canucks made the playoffs in 14-15. sounds like a good risk to me.

    the only thing i do not like about the contract is the nmc next year, meaning a forward prospect will be exposed even if erikkson stinks the joint out. but unless hutton tanks this year i think the canucks are going to lose edler to expansion.

  • TheRealPB

    Canuck fans should be excited about Erickson. Imagine a top line with 3 – 60 plus points players. That’s a good top line in anyone’s books. If the Sedins and Erickson mesh then we have a greater threat than the sum of the parts. Remember they are the Sedins! Still 2 great players. Virtanen is within a year or 2 of being a real dominant player if he ever will be. Horvat could hit 50 plus points and Baertchi could do the same. With the Sedins possibly tailing off a little we have some great young players coming in. The defense we will have this year will be a whole different story as to the last 4 or 5 years. This is a different team now. One more tough forward and this team is set up great for this year with a lot of upside. No need for a rebuild! Remember Sutter was injured most of last year. Point production is there from many places.

  • detox

    Darren Dreger
    ✔ ‎@DarrenDreger

    $28 mil of Eriksson’s $36 mil total is paid in signing bonus. No move first 2 yrs, no trade next 2 and ltd no trade in final two yrs.

    1:11 PM – 1 Jul 2016 …. GEE , What could possibly go wrong on that ??? So this player has managed to get some f–king idiot GM to insulate him incase the poor players union goes on strike ??? This player can vote to strike and get paid at the same time. The league wont like that , it will be interesting. He wont bank the caskh and glide along ??

    • detox

      how often does the players union go on strike?

      name me a gm who isn’t an idiot or hasn’t handed out a similar or excessive contract? every team in the nhl and their fans has been impacted by similar.

      is it a business or a sport or a hobby?

      millionaires lives matter.

  • Suzycue123

    You dreamers and delusional koolaid drinkers are naive and straight up dumb.

    The sedins the sedins oh the sedins….they’re 35 going on 36 ppl!!!!

    Wake up wake up wake up. Mayday mayday mayday!!!

    Who’s coming up to replace them??? Oh when they’re $7 mill contract is up and no other free agents want to sign here cuz benning has NO #1 prospect to replace them, well lets sing 38 year olds again!!! Haha

    No one wants to admit this but the Canucks are in purgatory hell!!!! They are so FAR from every contending that they can’t admit it themselves. They’re reaching to even think playoffs !!!

    Please look in the mirror and stop with the lies. The Canucks need a #1 pick but they’ll lose that too.

    Man seriously guys. Wake up. This team is going nowhere.

    No culture. No passion. No heart. No playoffs.

    • detox

      so what are you saying? of the Canucks, Oilers, Flames, Jets and Leafs, who do you see in the playoffs next season?

      I don’t think I have seen anyone say the Canucks are set for the future.

      how long does a tank and rebuild take? should we ask Edmonton? Toronto?

      Vancouver isn’t going that route. the funny thing is, if playoffs are missed, as long as we hold onto our 1st round picks we will be further ahead than a team that has sold off everything and started from scratch.

      accumulating late round picks when you liquidated is a crap shoot and doesn’t get you further ahead unless you luck out.

      edit-i like to hear the perspectives of other people, but on CA I always wonder for which team one roots while expressing such views towards the Canucks? 😉 lol.

      • Suzycue123

        The Canucks are one of the worst in asset management. 2 picks in the first three rounds??! For a team rebuilding/retooling or whatever u want to call it, that’s unacceptable.

        Please answer me this question. Who will be your #1 centerman after henrik is done? And by all accounts he’s 35 going on 36!!!!

        Oilers: mcdavid
        Kings: kopitar
        Sharks: couture/pavelski
        Flames: monahan
        Coyotes: who cares

        Canucks: ?????????????? Oh wait. Brandon sutter. I’m sorry. Your “foundational piece” as benning so eloquently puts it.

        Where’s your future like u say? Hansen burr sedins?

        Come on man!!! Be real man. You have no grade a prospects. No free agents wants to sign in Vancouver and that’s a fact.

        I hear…..crickets.

        • detox

          who is your #1 dman? how long have you lacked a #1?

          and we just traded a former first round pick for a top 4 dman… oh the horror of having a respectable defense.

          I think Bo’s ceiling is at a minimum a #2 centre… more points than Henrik in his second season.

          are you an Oilers fan and want to talk about asset management after having traded away Hall for Larsson? lol. Yaks withering on the vine…

          Need to draft another potential top centre, no arguments but even at an advanced age the Sedins still put up respectable numbers for playing injured
          We have Boeser as a potential top6 fwd. Demko future #1g, OJ top pairing dman.

          Is this the year the Oil make the playoffs?

          no free agents want to sign in Vancouver? I think we got the most offensive ufa available, but I am sure that isn’t what this club needs… we need to tank like the Oil to ensure high draft picks and a winning culture.

          • Suzycue123

            The fact u said horvat had more points then henrik doesn’t cause concern for u??? And I like how u used the term “advanced age” for describing the twithering twins. Look at their numbers and see how their decline was as steep as zero degrees. !!!

            P.s. Eriksson signed here cuz jb had to overpay by 2 years!!! All he can sign are the bartkoskis of the world. !!!

            Come on man! And we all know how Vancouver handles their goaltending situations. Hah ha.

            If winning the Stanley cup is the ultimate goal, can u sit there and tell me the Canucks will ever be in contention???

          • detox

            so Horvat in his 2nd season with the Canucks has more points than Henrik did in his 2nd season.

            Henrik played injured last season, bad back or something, couldn’t take face offs without falling to his knees and at times couldn’t sit on the bench. missed a bunch of games too.

            Daniel bounced back with 28 goals.

            Can’t argue with both getting old, it happens to everyone. and yet the Sedins are still putting up respectable numbers.

            why are you worried about Eriksson’s term? The guy had the most goals of available UFA’s, will soon turn 31 and is in great shape. are you worried about Lucic’s term? 7 years… when was the last time the guy broke 60pts? Henrik had the same amount of points as Lucic last season, missed 8 games too, are you worried?

            as per Vancouver’s goalies, I think we are in a better position than both Alberta’s teams…

            don’t talk about the Stanley Cup until your team gets into the playoffs (I didn’t bring the SC up…), have heard it every summer for the last 5, how this is the year the Oilers make the playoffs. I think you guys are closer, but I am not sure if you are any further ahead than the Canucks when it comes to making the playoffs, depends on your defense and goaltending, you have the forwards and the offense.

          • TrueBlue

            Never been accused of being a troll before today. Couldn’t be further from the truth. I do take exception to people coming to this site and offering nothing but negativity and insults. I stand by my statement that suzycue is an idiot.

          • detox

            sorry, I’m on a roll, calling everyone trolls…

            (thought you were saying to ignore me.. as everyone moves on from this thread, I am screaming, ‘I won’t be ignored.’ lol.)

  • detox

    Hey Mcdavid going to the oilers made most everynuck fan including myself nauseated! Afterall they got to pick the generationalcenter after picking 1st 3 yrs in a row! And Lucic said Conno rwas the main reason he signed with the oil. So there likely is some fire behind the smoke that free agents do not want to comehere. As Jeff Oneill spoke on tsn and backed by that know it nada Ray Ferraro the nucks have no real direction! Are we in full rebuild? Are we trying to make the last playoff spots? Erikson is avery good signing,but he knows andfeels comfortable with the twins,and there long history together. But you do not emerge out of the western conference with all the size and menacing players with the jets/kings/ducks/ and now oilers by playing The twins,erikson,baertchi,horvat,hansen,burr etc. We need more western canada boys like Virtanen,Sutter. I miss the days of Bieksa,Kesler,Rypien. What happened to Bennings motto, we will be like the bruins? Seems Chiarelli got it right!

    • detox

      What is the direction of the Canucks?

      They will try to make the playoffs and hopefully if they miss, they will pick well with JB at the helm.

      Did anyone notice the empty seats at Rogers Arena? The paying public isn’t buying into a tank and rebuild…

      JB has radically changed the lineup since he took over, making some gambles that worked, some that haven’t.

      We have better young players in our system than we have had in years, what are they asking about the direction of the club?

      Look at our defense, just drafted OJ, Tanev, Gudbranson, Hutton, Tryamkin, and we still have Edler…

      Why are people losing it?

      we need more grit in the forward group, at the end of the season it was evident we needed more scoring and grit, Eriksson has brought the scoring, we are headed in the right direction.

  • detox

    Hey warrior so you are on oiler’s site jambing them for not getting a good defenceman and for giving away hall not sure why you keep coming on here and throwing crap at canucks but you can see what benning has done and oilers it is clear benning has done more to improve team that edm has maybe edm got a player in the draft that can fit in next year (not tough to break their lineup) but that was cause they placed below canucks wait til the following season vancouver will be leaving oilers to grab 1st pick to themselves as that is when canucks will leave them in the dust

  • detox

    @Repo Man, I totally agree with your earlier comment stating that the Edmonton Oilers, in the last 2 drafts have gotten Connor McDavid and Puljujarvi. Now compare that to the Canucks drafts, and you have to wonder why anyone here would be dissin the Oilers.
    Oh, they also have won several Stanley Cuos too!!

      • detox

        The whiny banter here between Canadian hockey fanboys is the same as watching five bums fight over who’s smoking the best cigarette butt.

        Wake up and smell your smelly sleep fingers, the SC is never coming back to Canada… LADIES.

        • detox

          well gee Gremlin, thank you for coming on and laying the reality check on us.

          what do you suggest we do now? fold all the Canadian teams and move them to the sun belt?

          • andyg

            No, cause the NHL and company needs idiots to spend their Canadian dollars so the other smart ppl in this country can send their kids to post secondary.

            Pull out your wallets…. ladies!

  • Suzycue123

    Burkie, I never wrote the earlier comment about the trolling on this site.
    Canuck’s Army is the best hockey blog around, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing.
    Let’s go Canucks.

  • Suzycue123

    Pretty pathetic site I make 2 comments in the past 5 months and I get Mr. Freaking imposter using my handle at least 5 effen times. This site is becoming a bigger joke daily.

    Not a quitter, but I have had enough of this bs. Doesn’t matter if I use this name or the other name I have used more recently(Bob Nill) I am done with this site.

    I will miss some of the more sensible commentors like PB, Neil B, Smyl &Snepsts, pheenster, etc.

    I have balls and do not need to hide behind someone else’s username too bad these trolls are spineless POS’s.

  • detox

    “For the Vancouver Canucks, no need was greater than that of their offence which combined for a 29th worst 2.27 goals-per-game last season.”

    Pedant update:

    If they were the 29th worst, that makes them the 2nd best. WHOO! We so good!

  • TrueBlue

    Hello, has anybody been watching the NHL the last 2 years? Younger, faster is what wins these days. The Canucks (and Flames for that matter) must have missed the memo. By the time the season starts, the Sedins will be 36, Miller 35, Erickson 31, Burrows 36, and their defence much bigger and slower than last year. Was nobody paying attention to the last half of last season?

    • detox

      So what are you suggesting?

      Jettison the Sedins? Get rid of everyone over 30? How about if they are 28 or 29 years old and will be 30 in a year or two?

      Don’t sign anyone to a contract that will take them into their 30’s?

      I can understand wanting to get younger, but the Sedins will retire as Canucks and are still putting up respectable numbers.

      Burrows is on the last year of his contract, why not let him play it out instead of a buyout. he will be traded if JB can work it out.

      Miller is on the last year of his contract.

      Eriksson is still a good player, might have a reputation as having concussion issues but surprisingly hasn’t missed too many games over his career. very consistent.

      I have no complaints about the defense. Just drafted OJ and got a bit tougher with Gudbranson. Looking forward to see how they look on the ice.

      When different teams win the cup every year, everyone says, this is what you need to win the cup…

      • detox

        I’m suggesting it’s the same old, same old this year. And probably again next year. And I hear talk of extending the Sedins. There is just no sense of any optimism other than if we get really lucky, we might squeak into the playoffs. I look at Edmonton and Calgary and see what they have to be excited about not only this coming year, but into the next 5 as well. Canucks, not so much.

        • detox

          I guess you see what you want to see.

          We have seen huge changes since JB took over.

          Not too many players remain from when JB took over, what a refresh.

          Did you want the gut, tank and rebuild?

          Can’t see how folks would be too excited to see that. Not that many in Vancouver are willing to pay to watch it in person.

          I’m fine, for now, watching Bo, Hutton and JV develop. and seeing the strides Sven has made.

          Waiting on OJ and Boeser. Demko in the AHL, one of the top goalie prospects…

          I know I am looking at this through the filter of being a Canuck fan.

          But if I am way off base, please, this is the internet, tell me why I shouldn’t be an optimist instead of saying other teams have more reason to be optimistic.

  • Riley Miner

    Really? Still with the Sedins being old? Why is this such an issue? Last season they played very well and are showing no signs of slowing down yet (apart from maybe injuries starting to creep in).

    They are mid 30s so suddenly they are useless? Last time I checked Jagr is 44 and still effective, why is everyone losing their minds over the twins being 35?

    I could understand if they were bad this year and last year but they are not, still scoring hard on a team with a terrible roster.

    We have nothing to worry about in the twins, we have at least a few years to bring in a new number 1 centre. relax.

  • detox

    why are people getting so upset with others using their name it’s not like you are great writers having a hissy fit and saying i am not coming back as if anyone really cares site is good entertainment at times not looking to read any best sellers and if you think your opinion means something guess again no one gives a crap