Generally, I try to avoid building content off of other people’s work but Elliotte Friedman’s 31 thoughts is always a goldmine of information. So, it can be hard to not have the mind start running after reading it every week.
For this week’s edition, there was a really interesting point about the Canucks:
That exact question of ‘what do you do?’ is something that will linger for the remainder of this season and into the future.
On the side of resigning Edler, it allows the Canucks to insulate the left side of the ice with Quinn Hughes expected to come in. The Olli Juolevi injury throws a wrench in the plan but I think it’s fair to suggest that the Canucks 1st round selection in 2016 will be a part of that group in the future. No matter how you look it, it would be a young group making up two-thirds of your left side. That would likely leave Ben Hutton or Troy Stecher for the third spot and it’s a really green side of the ice.
I am not suggesting that re-signing Edler is the right move but it would make sense given the familiarity with the organization and his ability to play in all situations. If you aren’t signing him, then you are likely targeting someone else on the UFA market to replace him. With the added wrinkle of the Juolevi injury, the justification for going down that avenue is defensible.
On the other side of the ice is Chris Tanev.
We can comfortably suggest that at this moment, a Tanev trade would not provide the same return as years past and that is part of the problem. Tanev’s play has slowly declined, he’s continued to suffer some injuries, and thus teams may not be as aggressive in trading for him. There would still be a soft market for him and the Canucks could move him if they wanted to but the return will never be as high as it was a year ago (or prior).
He does have a year left after this season and thus some of those worries could be alleviated if he plays well and is able to stay healthy.
Both players may not return huge packages but they also do have value to teams and even more so at the trade deadline of the respective final years of their contracts. The Canucks have the ability to retain salary on both of them and thus could increase their value even more.
As Friedman suggests, keeping either player (or both) would make the Canucks deeper in the near term. It gives the organization the ability to not rush their defensive prospects and also not be forced into shopping for assistance there. We’ve seen the defensive group struggle for years and changes need to be made there but these two players could be part of the long-term transition instead of moved out.
With that being said, moving both of them to acquire assets to make this team better in the long term is likely the best option. It always comes back to opportunity cost, which is as follows:
Opportunity costs represent the benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another.
By the Canucks choosing the alternative avenue, which is to keep and/or re-sign these players, they are paying that cost by missing out on adding other pieces.
That could happen in a variety of ways:
- Cap dollars freed up (mostly Tanev) to leverage in trades or free agency
- Assets acquired to trade for other pieces (i.e. receive a pick in the deal, then send said pick to another team)
- Picks and prospects to continue to push the pipeline upwards and support the current new core
- Spots taken in the lineup to thrust players into
They all matter to a varying degree and all take time to fully flush out but that is some of the underlying opportunity cost that comes with keeping them.
Without a doubt, balancing the desire to be competitive on a nightly basis and having eyes on the future is a delicate thing that changes almost every day.
For the Canucks, it makes sense in a vacuum why you would want to have some veteran defenceman within in the organization to help the young guys coming. But on the flip side, if the Canucks are unwilling to part with futures (nor should they!), how are they going to improve this group today or when Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and others reach their peak.
It’ll be really interesting to see how the Canucks handle Edler this season and Tanev next year. If the Canucks are not going to re-sign Edler, then they have to move him at the deadline. The same can be said about Tanev for next year.
Honestly, dealing with the short term pain of moving these guys for the long-term gain of asset accumulation is probably the best course of action. But sports can be tough and if the excitement about those aforementioned young Canucks wears off after a boatload of losing, it could lead to different changes in the organization. Although that is unlikely, it still can happen.
Now we wait to see how they handle this situation.