Canucks Extend Richard Bachman, Solve Expansion Draft Problem

The Canucks announced today that they had extended depth goaltender Richard Bachman for another season. Bachman was already signed for the 2016-17 campaign, so this extension doesn’t kick in until the 2017-18 season. As of July 1st, teams are allowed to extend pending unrestricted free agents, which Bachman is, but extending contracts this far ahead of their expiration is usually reserved for star players, which Bachman is not.

So are the Canucks losing their marbles? Actually, extending Bachman at this point is a perfectly reasonable move, because it solves a problem that the Canucks would have run into with the expansion draft next June.

(More on the Mike Zalewski signing here.)

When the league finally made the expansion to Las Vegas official in the week leading up to the draft, and subsequently released the official expansion draft rules, I combed through them to see how they might affect the Canucks. While the Canucks roster composition doesn’t make for many difficult decisions, aside from which depth forward to protect with the final spot, there was one interesting rule that could have caused them some trouble.

Player Exposure Requirements
* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:
iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

At the time, the Canucks had no non-exempt goaltenders under contract for the 2017-18 season, although Jacob Markstrom would have been an RFA. He’s since signed a three year extension, but either way, he is eligible for exposure.

Meanwhile, Ryan Miller and Richard Bachman’s contracts were set to end after the 2016-17 season, while Thatcher Demko and Michael Garteig were both exempt from exposure, with both having yet to play a professional season.

Given that a team is required to expose a goaltender, while protecting a goaltending is only an option, if the Canucks did not have another goaltender to expose by June 17th of next year, they would have no choice but to expose Jacob Markstrom. With that being the landscape, I suggested these possibilities:

With no other goalies under contract for the 2017-18 season, the Canucks will have to find a goalie to expose in the expansion draft. This could be via trade (a la the John Vanbiesbrouck acquisition back in 1993 to protect Kay Whitmore) or some free agency signing of a non-exempt goaltender. Another option, which might be the simplest, is extending the contract of Richard Bachman into the 2017-18 season. Since there are no games played requirements for goaltenders, this would appear to be sufficient.

With the extension of Bachman, the Canucks appear to have done exactly that. Given how far out we are from the 2017-18 season, it’s hard not to assume that this was the major motivation of the extension. Hopefully Bachman doesn’t mind being an expansion draft decoy – any way it shakes out, he’ll be getting paid for at least two more seasons. (Although the article does mention that his extension is of the two-way variety, while his current deal is one-way, meaning that he was paid 575,000 to play in the AHL this year and would be in line for a substantial pay cut in 2017-18).

Bachman played in one game last year for the Canucks, a 4-3 win in Arizona in which he stopped 28 of 31 shots (.903 save percentage). He mostly sat on the bench as the team rode Ryan Miller into the ground while Jacob Markstrom recovered from a pre-season injury.

In the American League, Bachman posted a 17-12-5 record with the Comets, with a 2.75 goals against average and a .900 save percentage. His numbers were worse than fellow Utica goaltender Joe Cannata’s in all areas (2.52 goals against average, .909 save percentage), and he had a penchant for giving up flimsy goals, especially in the middle third of the season. But Bachman had an advantage: with Thatcher Demko coming, the Canucks were only going to keep one of their 2015-16 tandem for the following season, and Bachman was already under contract. Thus, it’s no surprise that Joe Cannata, the younger and slightly better of the two (though still roughly replacement level in the AHL) signed with Washington during the first week of free agency.

It’s now going to be Bachman’s job to work with Demko for the next couple of years (similar to the mentor-apprentice relationship that Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom have had) as the college standout adjusts to the pro game.

    • Almo89

      I have no objection to this signing. It solves a potential problem. There are a couple of things written I’d like to clarify.

      1. Regarding the above quote, Article 13.11 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement reads:

      13.11 No Loans to East Coast Hockey league-A Player who is not in the Entry Level System may not be loaned to the East Coast Hockey League without his consent.

      Since Bachman is well past the entry level contract stage, he can’t be sent to the ECHL witout his consent.

      If Demko doesn’t progress so quickly that he makes the NHL in 2017-18 (and most don’t expect his progression to be quite that fast) and Garteig does progress to the point of being AHL ready for 2017-18, Canucks could face a bit of a logjam at the AHL level next summer. Garteig will be an RFA and getting out of the entry level system, so they could have 3 goalies for the AHL and nobody that can be sent down to the ECHL.

      It isn’t a huge problem-they could just keep all 3 in the AHL if they couldn’t find another solution. Then again, short of taking

      2. In the article was written: “Jacob Markstrom would have been an RFA”

      Actually, Markstrom would have been an unrestricted free agent next summer if he hadn’t signed his extension. He turns 27 next January and would have been a Group 3 UFA by virtue of Article 10.1(a)(i) of the CBA which reads in part “Any player who either has seven (7) Accrued Seasons OR is 27 years of age or older as of June 30 at the end of a League Year, shall, if his most recent SPC has expired … become an Unrestricted Free Agent.”

      Cheers.

  • wojohowitz

    I noticed the mention of Cannata. After four years in the system the Canucks cut him loose. Sometime next season a team will need a goalie because of injuries and Washington will trade him for a draft pick and that will be another example of bad asset management by Benning.

    • redrocket

      With all due respect to Cannata, there are dozens of backup goaltenders in the AHL with his credentials. If a team like Washington thought he was worth a draft pick I would suggest they didn’t do their homework.

    • wojohowitz

      And where would he play? People complain about ‘asset management’ like the goal is to have as many unnecessary players on the roster as possible. Why would you think having a logjam of 3 AHL goalies is a good idea? Somehow paying Cannata $600,000 US to sit and do nothing in hopes of a 5th round pick is a good idea? And taking a rester spot away from another guy is sound “asset management”? You can only have 50 guys under contract, but maybe you didn’t realize that.

      • Whackanuck

        “You can only have 50 guys under contract, but maybe you didn’t realize that.”

        The Canucks ownership has stacks of money they seem willing to spend. They own the Utica team.

        Is it possible for UTICA to sign guys to contracts similar to NHL contracts as a way to circumvent the 50 player rule?
        I’m thinking of reclamation projects that otherwise might not see another contract but still have potential. If they work out, the Canucks could buy out their contracts.

        • detox

          Zalewski was signed to an AHL contract to start last season and that contract was terminated so he could sign an NHL 2 way contract.

          I had some hopes for Cannata, but if management is willing to move on from him, I guess he wasn’t worth all the work or Cannata may believe he has earned a 2 way contract and didn’t want to stay.

          all in all, a very minor transaction.

  • wojohowitz

    You guys know what’s really gonna fix the Canucks?

    Easy. Get new management and then change the name to anything but the Canucks because that name is synonymous with losing.

  • Steampuck

    The Canucks still need a backup for 2017-2018. I presume Bachman is returned to Utica when he’s not picked up, and the Canucks will wade into free agency for a career backup on a one-year contract?

    Also, how do the expansion rules play out for players not under contract? I assume this means that Vegas can’t “pick” Ryan Miller, for example, but they can offer him a contract on July 1? What is next summer’s timeline between expansion draft, draft, and free agency?

  • Almo89

    hmm…asset management?

    I don’t understand why the positive management of assets like these have been swept under the rug and the hills the fans die on are trade deadline, McCann, and Corrado. It happened, make a note and move on.

    There have been good contracts signed, assets retained, and prospects found and acquired. Can we whine about those for a while?

  • wojohowitz

    What if both Gartieg and Demko earn the two spots after the Comet’s training camp?

    Can Bachman go to a different AHL team as a loan?

    Or would they be stuck with 3 goalies?

  • detox

    LAS VEGAS KNIGHTS….

    The NHL has lost its marbles! It sounds like a porn stars name. The NHL devalued the product by taking teams away from hockey playing cities and transferring them to desert areas. Expanding to places where the only ice is in the Mojitos…

    There are so many wonderful players in an ever expanding global player development market, but now Las Vegas. A fun weekend, but the most disingenuous hustling city in Nirth America….

    Wait for the first scandal NHL, or the first player with a gambling problem and you sold out a great sport for short money$$$$$

    Better, Quebec, Seattle, Portland Toronto…. Ohh wait Hamilton since Leafs don’t want competition.

    It’s a disgrace