Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Tyson Barrie, Alternate Histories, and a Potential Boeser Trade

There’s enough money coming off the books this offseason that the Canucks could afford Barrie if he’s interested in coming to Vancouver. The issue would be that there wouldn’t be a lot of room left over to re-sign or replace players like Troy Stecher and Jacob Markstrom, who would figure to be integral pieces on a team attempting to contend for the playoffs. If the Canucks can find a cheap replacement for Markstrom, and elect to either trade their RFAs or let them walk, they could probably clear enough space to fit Barrie and Stecher under the cap. The question would be whether or not the value going in would be enough to justify the value going out.

As far as how the Canucks ended up in cap trouble, it’s pretty simple. They signed a lot of ill-advised contracts, and then signed some more. Their salary situation isn’t completely beyond salvation yet, but they can’t really afford to make any more big mistakes like the Eriksson and Sutter contracts.

For the time being, there’s no room on the Canucks’ roster for Nikita Tryamkin. Tyler Myers, Troy Stecher, and Chris Tanev are all locked in for at least another year and they aren’t taking any of those guys out of the lineup to make room for an underpeforming KHL defenseman. If Chris Tanev walks this summer, then we could see Tryamkin make his return, but at this point it doesn’t seem all that likely. Rightly or not, I think the acquisition of Tyler Myers makes Nikita Tryamkin a bit of a redundancy in the Canucks’ system.

Honestly, I’d have a lot of time for a new-look third line centred by J.T. Miller and flanked by Gagner and someone like Josh Leivo or Nikolay Goldobin. The problem is that something like that was just never realistic and at this point the Canucks don’t have room for another forward, whether it’s Gagner, Spooner, or anyone else.

The real issue here is the glut of redundant, overpaid forwards and how even a relatively small contract like Gagner’s can become quickly become an albatross. In an ideal world, they’d have never signed Gagner in the first place, but I don’t think losing him for nothing is a significant loss.

To the best of my knowledge, the NHL does not hand out compensatory picks for draft picks who elect not to sign with the team that drafted them.

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The New Jersey Devils find themselves in the unique position of not only having the cap space accommodate the salary of either player, but also enough empty spaces on the roster for the addition to be more than just a pure salary dump. Both players have limited no-trade clauses, though, and I’m not sure either of Sutter or Eriksson would waive to go there.

There’s been a rumour floating around that the Stars might have interest in Eriksson, and I think it has legs. Eriksson began his career there and they have a couple of their own bad contracts that could be swapped, essentially exchanging cap space for real dollars. If I had to bet on a landing spot for Eriksson, it would be Dallas.

A proven offense winger with back-to-back 25+ goal seasons seems like a slight overpayment for a relatively unproven defender, even one with the potential and pedigree of Ivan Provorov. I like Provorov a lot and I’m not completely convinced the Canucks wouldn’t come out on top in a potential swap, but I’m just not sure it makes a ton of sense for either team. Provorov obviously fills a need for the Canucks, but moving out Boeser would just open up a giant hole in the Canucks’ offense that they simply aren’t prepared to fill. I don’t hate the idea, but without a contingency plan to replace Boeser’s offense I think I’d have to pass.

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Look, I know we all hate the drop pass (largely because the Canucks have applied it poorly), but dumping and chasing on the power-play is an extremely bad idea, even with players who have the speed to be effective at it. Ceding possession  when the opposition is free to ice the puck as frequently as they desire is a great way to insure your team never gets properly set up and fails to generate any scoring chances. I understand the frustration with the drop pass, but please believe me when I say dumping and chasing is not the solution.

  1. Significantly expand the analytics department, including but not limited to hiring Harman Dayal.
  2. Add at least one if not multiple people to the front office whose job consists solely of managing contracts and the salary cap, similar to the role Laurence Gilman occupied during his time as the AGM in Vancouver.
  3. Conduct a full-scale audit of the Utica Comets organization. Something isn’t working, whether it’s coaching, distance from the parent club, or simply the level of talent that’s coming in. Regardless, someone needs to get to the bottom of it, and that starts with an impartial observer conducting interviews with executives, coaches, and players to figure out what needs to change.

  • speering major

    I actually think there’s likely a deal to be had with Ottawa, it’s just a matter of ironing out the details and seeing if they can finalize an agreement. There’s no doubt Ottawa wants out of the Bobby Ryan contract and the Canucks Eriksson. I think if Ottawa retains salary then there is a deal there at some point

    Eriksson owed $9 million over 3 years. Cap hit $6 million
    Ryan owed 20.5 million over 3 years. Cap hit $7.5 million

    There is a massive gap there in salary owed and cap space. Ottawa has cap space but is budget conscious. Vancouver wants cap space. If the Canucks could package Eriksson with Baertschi (or Beagle) and Ottawa retains $1 million in salary then over the life of the contracts Ottawa saves roughly $5 million in salary and Vancouver saves just under $3 million in cap space per season

    Also I think Ryan’s contract is something that could be bought out in the future whereas Erikssons structure doesn’t accommodate that. The Canucks main goal should be to have as much cap space as possible in 2 seasons when Pettersson and Hughes are due for a big raise. This move would set them up nicely for that. It also might give them the flexibility to pursue someone like Barrie in favor of re signing Tanev

    • Nuck16

      We need to get rid of Eriksson to free up cap space, so trading a 6m contract for a 7.5 hardly does that.
      With Eriksson we need to find a team with lots of cap space, then retain $1.5m. That means they’d only have to pay him $1.5m in actual salary for the next 3 years. We shouldn’t have to add in a sweetener since he’s easily a $1.5m player, but OK to throw in a pack of Splenda if necessary like a 4th rounder.

      • speering major

        Moving Eriksson and taking nothing back would be ideal. I even made the point on this site before anyone else that you could retain after the bonus is paid out and the only big issue is Erikssons cap hit. The problem is that there are very limited teams that even have the cap space to play around with. This is why I posted the suggestion above, it’s not plan A but it does highlight that the contract is moveable and there is ways to make cap space available.

        What I proposed frees up about $3 million in cap space over the next couple of seasons. What is also very important to note is that you can buy out Ryan’s contract and you can’t with Eriksson’s structure. Thats a very nice saftey net for year 3 of the contract where if you’re holding Eriksson’s contract and you need to sign Petterson and Hughes, you’re options are limited and your hands are tied. You would need to look elsewhere on the roster to clear space or avoid signings with a level of uncertainty. The Ryan contract offers an option to buy him out and clear cap space. It’s actually a huge difference and a much better situation to be in

  • Killer Marmot

    The real issue here is the glut of redundant, overpaid forwards and how even a relatively small contract like Gagner’s can become quickly become an albatross.

    Not much of a glut, really. Three injuries to their forward lines, and Zack MacEwen will be getting a phone call.

    • tyhee

      The question being answered was how we’d gotten into salary cap hell. Perhaps there was a better word to use than “glut” but I think the answer was intended to bring attention to the number of forwards that are overpaid or in roles already filled more than total team depth.

      • Killer Marmot

        Yes, I can read, thanks.

        And my point is that a team should look like it has redundancies going into the season opener. Without that, a few injuries can create a desperate scramble for talent in mid season.

        In regards to the “salary cap hell”, the Canucks have to find about a million bucks in cap space before October, depending on the size of Boeser’s contract. It shouldn’t be that difficult. McDonald should be grateful that Aquilini is willing to spend money on the team.

  • rediiis

    The professional scouting department should work with the analytic department and stop looking at pedigree. Work ethic, puck handling, crisp passing and skating with the ability to backcheck are some serious forward checkmarks. The ability to toss something warmer than a sponge and controlled zone entries would really help on the defense.

    • Sticks

      Spooner is no longer in the NHL, Gagner is. Fair to say we lost that trade. If we didn’t make that trade, we wouldn’t have had to buy out Spooner and pay him not to play. Instead we would have had another versatile forward who can play centre or wing. A forward group would consist of something like this:

      Ferland Pettersson Boeser
      Baertschi Horvat Pearson
      Leivo Miller Gagner
      Virtanen Beagle Sutter

      Looks like a group more capable to putting the puck in the net? I would have thought so.

      • DogBreath

        Interesting line-up, though I think they brought Miller in to be a top-6. They already have two arguably capable 3LC in Sutter and Gaudette.

        We’ll have a better read on Gagner in Edmonton this year to see if he can extend his career. It’s clear the Canucks gambled and lost on the signing. Prior to his Columbus year he had moved around a lot, including a stint in the minors while with Philadelphia. If he makes hardly a dent in Edmonton and is dispatched to the minors, then Edm is on the hook for the salary.

      • DJ_44

        Lost the trade? On the contrary.

        You are correct in saying the Canucks would not have had to buy out Spooner; the Canucks would have bought out Gagner instead, and it would have cost them more in $ and cap than Spooner did.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Gagner might get a roster spot in Edmonton but only because that team is completely devoid of wingers. There are at least 3 players on the Canucks I’d prefer to see on the roster than Gagner.

      • KGR

        I view it as the Canucks did Gagne a favour and got him back into the NHL. Took a chance on Spooner..didn’t work out.
        Both would have been heading for a buy out.

  • wojohowitz

    – I believe there is (or was) compensation due for a college draft pick who elected not to sign with the team that selected him.

    – The intent of the drop pass is to freeze the opposition – usually at the blueline – while the trailer exploits the freeze by crossing into the zone with speed.

    – Gagner was signed, demoted, promoted, demoted again and then traded. It was a curious situation that may never be explained except to insiders.

    • SISMIM

      Article 8.3 of the CBA:

      “Compensatory Draft Selections.
      (a) In addition to the seven (7) rounds of the Entry Draft, there shall be an additional number of Compensatory Draft Selections not to exceed the number of Clubs to be in the League in the following League Year.
      (b) In the event a Club loses its draft rights to an Unsigned Draft Choice drafted in the first round of the Entry Draft (except as a result of failing to tender a required Bona Fide Offer (as defined below)), who (i) is again eligible for the Entry Draft, (ii) becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, or (iii) dies, a Compensatory Draft Selection shall automatically be granted to that Club, which Compensatory Draft Selection shall be the same numerical choice in the second round in the Entry Draft immediately following the date the Club loses such rights. By way of example, if a Club cannot sign the third pick in the first round, it will receive the third pick in the second round as compensation.”

      In the case of Podkolzin, however, it’s a little different. There would not be a compensatory pick, because in the case of players drafted from leagues without a transfer agreement, they remain held under “indefinite” draft rights. No compensation can be triggered, because the draft rights technically don’t ever expire.

      However, for most first rounders, so long as they are tendered a Bona Fide offer, and refuse to sign, their draft club would received a compensatory 2nd round pick (as detailed in the quoted CBA section above).

  • Kanuckhotep

    Tryamkin? Really? If the guy wasn’t as big as a sequoia tree there’d be no conversation about him. If his heart was as big as the rest of him Benning and Green would have quite a formidable D to work with. Instincts about this guy have never been good and want to be wrong about him. Just can’t see it though.

  • J-Canuck

    Was it me or did this Monday mail bag seem like…. “ ask me your nuttiest question” bag?
    Barrie signing after signing a crap ton of D-men, then Brock trade? Come on Man!
    Brock has yet to reach his peak playing with EP, and saying “ back to back 25+ goal seasons” Yes, but both shortened by a serious back injury.
    Also Nikita T…. he doesn’t play in the KHL, why would anyone want him back.
    Let’s hope next weeks ?’s are a bit better.

  • CursedCanucks

    Like that last questions 3 answers.. Was really hoping we could have moved the Utica team to Chilliwack or Abbotsford as it makes a lot of sense to have the minor team closer.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      To save money on travel, they’d be better off to have an AHL team playing in the southwest in the Pacific division. the team would see till way closer than Utica, which would have to give the Canucks a better handle on the developmental system. Something clearly is not working right now.

    • Killer Marmot

      There are no AHL teams in the Pacific Northwest, and for good reason. There are a few AHL teams that are a long way from their competitors (e.g., Manitoba Moose), but not many, as travel becomes time-consuming and expensive.

      • CanuckRealist

        Who cares Marmutt – Beer is correct, Money and travel are not an issue… Every other team in the NHL Pacific has their farm team playing against each other in the AHL based out West.

        There is no good reason to keep this FAILED farm team in the East because bus rides are great and losers in Utica want their hockey. It’s better for call-ups, development, proximity to the big club and the local Canucks community at large – move the team NOW and stop trolling with your [email protected] Marmutt!

        • Killer Marmot

          Almost all are in California. None are in the Pacific Northwest, which is where CursedCanuck was suggesting.

          Also, do you ever get tired of your many accounts getting deleted from CA? I would think that would be tiresome after a while.

    • J-Canuck

      Problem with a West Coast team you spend more time traveling to San Diego, Ontario Ca etc…. taking short bus rides allows for more practice time. How the prospects are handled is a different story.
      I personally have no problem with young guys earning playing time in the AHL! This isn’t Junior. Trying to beat out a player with a wife and a couple of kids is tough, but the NHL is tougher. The AHL isn’t development camp

  • bushdog

    i sure am tired of the dolts who scream ‘overpaid’ at every move! taxes. weather. col…
    jackson, please explain taxes in bc and canada vs those in the us and maybe pick a couple of differing states. base it on salaries of 2mil and 6 mil. it’s a lot to ask but i want to have something to shove up the…er…down the throats of those guys.