Will the Canucks sign Gaudette and Boeser before season end?

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Photo Credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been having an internal debate over these last few weeks over why the Canucks have held at 46 salaried player contracts for the season.

At a glance, flexibility seems the most obvious reason. With 46 contracts, the Canucks can add players without too much handwringing. There’s value in peace of mind, and by not overextending themselves it’s likely the Canucks granted themselves just that.

However, another angle has come to the forefront. It’s one I’d given consideration to but never credence, without definitive information to reaffirm it. What if the Canucks are saving contract spots for their NCAA prospects so that they might use games this season as an ace in hand and entice them to sign? With the possibility of burning a year of their ELC as a carrot to dangle?

The following tweets had been sent out from various interviews last week. The first is Adam Gaudette speaking with News 1130:

The second is from an interview on TSN 1040 with University of North Dakota’s coach, Brad Berry:

Boeser turning pro at the conclusion of the season isn’t much of a surprise. Former Canucks Army writer Josh Weissbock spoke about the likelihood of just that, concluding Boeser will likely sign during the summer of 2017. Gaudette, on the other hand, is a bit of surprise, but given how well he has played for the last 14 months, you can understand why the Canucks would want to get him signed. 

First off, we need to determine what ‘age-year’ they are in, which is stipulated in Section 9.2 of the NHL/NHLPA CBA:

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So – both players will be ’20-year-old’. As per Section 9.1b in the NHL/NHLPA CBA are required to sign a three-year entry-level deal:

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Since both players are 20 years old on September 15th, 2017, they are not eligible to have their entry level deals slide, as outlined by 9.1d:

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If either appear in an NHL game, it would eat their first year of ELC. This would provide the Canucks with another ‘tool’ at their disposal to get the players signed. They can sign them to an entry level contract and have it start next season. He would be able to sign an ATO with the Comets to finish the season there, or return to school for the remainder of the year to finish classes/exams.

Once a player’s signed their ELC, they’re ineligible to participate in NCAA sports, but they can still complete their classes. If the player goes this route, their ELC starts next season.

Now, we can see if their schedules’ would allow them to come into the Canucks organization before years end.

Adam Gaudette

For Gaudette and Northeastern, it seems possible. Northeastern has struggled this season and currently sits in 8th in the Hockey East Conference. Their regular season is set to conclude on February 25th, but all Hockey East teams qualify for the Championships, as outlined below:

All 12 teams will once again qualify for the 2017 Hockey East tournament, with the top four teams in the league standings enjoying a first round bye into the quarterfinals. Teams seeded 5 through 12 will face off in best-of-three series at the campus sites of the higher seeds (No. 5 hosting No. 12, etc.). Advancing teams will then be reseeded and will play best-of-three quarterfinal series on the campuses of the four highest seeded teams.

The four quarterfinal winners will be reseeded again as they advance to the TD Garden in Boston for the semifinals and Championship Game.

The championship schedule is:

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Last season, Northeastern won the Hockey East title, thus qualifying for the Frozen Four (we’ll touch on that in a minute). But this season, they will likely be unable to replicate their run. It’s fair to believe their season will be over on the weekend of March 3-5. An example of a player leaving at that time is Andrew Poturalski, who signed with Carolina on March 8th, after the University of New Hampshire’s season finished.

Once Northeastern’s season ends, the Canucks can sign Gaudette.

There is a possibility to more games, which I will cover in the Boeser part.

Brock Boeser

Boeser’s schedule is a little more complicated.

The University of North Dakota plays in the eight-team NCHC, with all the teams making it to their Championships. Their opening round is the following weekend from Hockey East, on March 10-12th. North Dakota currently sits 5th.

The NCHC Frozen Four goes from March 17-18th in Minnesota. So it’s entirely possible that Boeser and UND will still be playing until then.

Here’s where things get a little complicated.

If UND does win the NCHC Championship, they will automatically earn a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four, which takes place the following weekend. The qualification process is outlined below:

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That same logic applies to Gaudette and Northeastern, but they obviously have a tougher road.

Back to Boeser, the wrinkle here is that the NCAA has chosen North Dakota as the West Regionals host. Furthermore, the six conference champions qualify for regionals and then the top 10 teams that did not win their respective conference. 

At this moment, UND sits 16th in USCHO National Rankings.

Given that, and since they are hosting the regionals, it’s not crazy to conclude they will be playing then. If they can get through, then they would be playing in the Frozen Four from April 6-8th in Chicago. The Semi-Finals are on April 6th, with the winners playing for the title on Saturday, April 8th.

This would obviously apply to any NCAA free agent who may turn professional at the conclusion of their season.

Canucks Schedule

The Canucks schedule in April is as follows:

Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 12.52.22 PM

So if North Dakota makes the NCAA Frozen Finals on Saturday, April 8th. There would be less than 24 hours to get him signed, fly him to Edmonton, and get him into the lineup.

Conclusion

It’s fair to believe that getting Gaudette into a game this season if they so choose wouldn’t be an issue. Unless Northeastern goes on a magical run, Gaudette’s season should be over sooner rather than later. If he so chooses, then the Canucks have all the options above to present to him. They can offer to get him into an NHL game right away, and offer the incentive of a burning a year of the ELC.

The same applies for the UFA seniors on Northeastern, Zach Aston-Reese and John Stevens, but that is a topic for another day.

Boeser presents an interesting case, as it’s fair to believe that the earliest his season will end, will be March 24th. That would give the Canucks plenty of time to get the young winger under contract and into some games. If the Canucks season doesn’t end in a playoff spot, having someone like Boeser to point to, would be a good PR move.

But if North Dakota does go on a run, it could complicate matters. I don’t think this ‘burning a year’ will be a deal-breaker in getting Boeser or Gaudette signed, but it could be something that makes it easier for the Canucks.

It’s good to see that aside from UND making the NCAA finals, the calendar shouldn’t get in their way.

  • Dan B

    There’s not much point in getting them into a game. It’s not like when a team is courting an NCAA free agent and needs an advantage over other teams. If the team thinks that these guys will sign in the summer (and every indication is that they will) then it doesn’t benefit the team to sign them early.

  • I think an ideal situation would be to sign Boeser and Gaudette to the AHL, send down Gaunce and then see what Gaunce, Virtanen, Boeser and Gaudette (2C and 2RW) can do. Then bring them all back for next year’s training camp as a cohort.

  • TrueBlue

    Nice breakdown, it’s great to know the actual dates in play.

    I’m not terribly worried about losing either, but the ELC burn would be a nice reward to Gaudette & Boeser after their respectively amazing and challenging seasons.

    Only fix is ‘Saturday, April 8th’. But it’s correct in the calendar schedule you put up so no big deal.

  • Ryan Biech

    Just to clarify here – I was originally correct.

    Then doubted myself with an incorrect article in the CBA; rewrote it

    Found the correct article, and has adjusted it back—- Sorry for the confusion

    • Steamer

      Good article – as per usual. One error: think you mean ‘an internal debate’ vs ‘an eternal debate’ – were it eternal, the debate would still be raging:)

      • Ryan Biech

        Thanks!

        That must’ve been changed in the editing process, as that wasn’t my sentence.

        I noticed that before I realized my mistake about Boeser, and then forgot to change it!

        • Steamer

          Good stuff! Couldn’t resist that one:) Back to the article, have been wondering about the # of contracts all year also – along with wondering why Marco Roy, Pavel-LaPlante, et al got ELC’s while Curtis Valk – an obviously superior player – is left vulnerable to be signed by any other NHL club. Don’t think there was any need to be tossing ELC’s around for some of these players, they could have as easily been signed to AHL deals. Humbug Benning!

  • apr

    Queue the Benning asset management moaners if they burn one year ELC on a 5th rounder. That said, I do think college players are looking at the success of Hayes and Vescey knowing that, all things being equal, they can get pretty much the same contract from any team they want after they finish their senior year. At some point this has to be addressed in the CBA.

    That said, I would absolutely burn a year for both these guys – and I do like the suggestion of sending Gaunce down and bringing up the lot as a cohort. But Green is too much like WD and probably press box these two guys until they deserve their ice time.

    For all those people who want to fire WD and bring up Green, I wonder if they know that WD and TG have the same philosophy.

  • I am Ted

    No need to rush these guys. Get them in but don’t burn a year if possible before next season. I think both should start in Utica and hopefully they push into the Canucks lineup early next season.

  • Fred-65

    Question do they need to play more than 9 games to qualify as a year of the ELC ? So if they only play 8-9 games they keep the extra year of the ELC which is a big deal when it comes to Cap management

    . Is Boeser still having problems with his wrist after the surgery, he hasn’t scored much since he came back

    • DJ_44

      Ryan answered this. Boeser, being in his 19 age year. ….f would have to play 9 games. His incentive would be signing bonus and a few nhl paychecks.

      Gaudette needs only one game and he burns a year.

      Bigger question. ..do playoff games count? ?

      • I am Ted

        I think they do? Isn’t that how idiot Gillis burned a year of Corrado’s contract? Playing him against the Sharks in a series where the Canucks were stomped.

        • Vanoxy

          If only Gillis hadn’t burned that ELC year on future hall of famer Frankie C.

          We might have been able to re-sign the cornerstone of the franchise, rather than losing him due to that free agency bidding war that made him the highest paid player in the league and perrenial Norris trophy frontrunner.

          Oh. Wait….. Nevermind.

      • Ryan Biech

        In fairness, I thought I had made a mistake, changed it, then realized I was right the first time, so changed it back

        So confusion is warranted – and why I will answer questions here, if needed.

        Yes – playoff games do count – look at Corrado vs SJS in 2013

  • Rodeobill

    Seeing flashes of hope for the future has got me through this season watching Stetcher and Tryamkin. It would be nice to see some hope for future offense too. Losing today isn’t as bad if you can believe the future looks brighter and seeing these guys start to cut their teeth on the pro ice would go some way to that end.

  • krutov

    from what i have seen gaudette is not close to ready for the nhl. there is no reason to sign him for this season.

    boesser seems ready enough that a short stint might do him good to help him know what to prepare for in the off season. so i would do that.

    doesn’t seem to me the carrot of burning an elc year is needed for either player to get them signed.