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Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Whose Contract Is Bad Enough To Swap For Loui Eriksson’s?

On July 19, 2019—a day that will live in infamy for connoisseurs of hockey-related memes—the Edmonton Oilers traded Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal. In order to rid themselves of Lucic’s contract—widely considered to be among the worst in the league—the Oilers had to retain 12.5% and give up a conditional 3rd round pick. They also had to take on another of the league’s worst contracts in Neal.

And if you don’t see the relevance of all this to the Vancouver Canucks’ current situation, you haven’t been paying attention.

The 2019 offseason has seen Jim Benning and Co. swing big trades, land major free agents, and draft a couple of potential offensive stars, but still the bulk of the discussion surrounding the 2019/20 Canucks roster has centered around one singular question:

What can be done with Loui Eriksson?

The Lucic/Neal swap certainly proves that it’s possible to move Eriksson and his $6 million cap hit for the next three years. It also proves, however, that doing so will be extremely difficult without giving up major assets or taking on a contract that’s nearly as bad.

The 1st round pick the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up to dump one year of Patrick Marleau this offseason made it clear that there’s a premium price on cap space—something the Canucks can’t afford to pay right now.

Therefore, Vancouver is left with the prospect of adding some form of sweetener to Eriksson and shipping him out for a player whose contract is almost (though perhaps not quite) as onerous as his.

In this article, we’ll be looking for players who match that description exactly—and that means we’re not going to be considering anyone whose contract is clearly worse than Eriksson’s. The list isn’t long, but it does exist—and taking on a more expensive and/or lengthier contract runs counter to the incentive behind moving Eriksson.

Apologies to Brent Seabrook—you’re off the table for now.

It should also be noted that Eriksson has a full no-trade clause until the start of next season, at which point it becomes a 15-team no-trade clause.

 

Contracts That Are Not Quite As Bad As Loui Eriksson’s

Karl Alzner, Montreal Canadiens

Three Years Remaining @ $4.625 million cap hit

Modified-NTC (7 teams)

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 9 0 1 1

Acquiring Alzner for Eriksson would work for the Canucks because he’s a whole lot cheaper—and because, with few salary bonuses, his contract is a lot more buyout-friendly. The fact that he’s a local barely matters—as Alzner would almost certainly be sent to Utica or bought out—but it makes it pretty likely that Vancouver isn’t on his seven-team no-trade list.

The deal only really works for the Canadiens, however, in that Eriksson is still a competent NHL player—whereas Alzner isn’t anymore. They also have the cap space to absorb the difference in salary, though they almost certainly have better uses for it than Loui Eriksson.

Chances are that Montreal would be asking for the Canucks to add some serious assets—think multiple picks or a quality prospect—in such a trade, and that’s probably not in Vancouver’s interest.

 

David Backes, Boston Bruins

Two Years Remaining @ $6 million cap hit

Modified-NTC (15 teams)

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 70 7 13 20

With two years remaining, Backes’ contract is obviously more favourable than Eriksson’s—though he’s fallen so far in recent years that Eriksson is still the better player. Backes is also tough to buy out—doing so next offseason would cost a $4 million cap hit in 2020/21—but at least that would be over with before Elias Pettersson needed re-signing.

The Bruins are probably best to just buy out Backes themselves in a year, but it does bear mentioning that Eriksson’s most recent NHL success came in Boston—where he put up 30 goals and 63 points in 2015/16.

With an aging core, the Bruins are in full-on contender mode—so they could be incentivized to make the swap for a better player in Eriksson. But considering the extra contract year Eriksson carries, they won’t be doing it for free.

 

Frans Nielsen, Detroit Red Wings

Three Years Remaining @ $5.25 million cap hit

Modified-NTC (10 teams)

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 72 10 25 35

An Eriksson-for-Nielsen trade would be a mostly lateral move for the Canucks, though it would save them $750,000 for the next three years. Nielsen is currently a better player than Eriksson, but he also plays a position that the Canucks already have a surplus in.

On the Red Wings’ side of things, their roster could benefit from the addition of a veteran winger—though, again, they can almost certainly find someone better than Eriksson for the job. The franchise does have a lengthy history of success with Swedish veterans, so they may have some hope of turning Loui’s career around—but it’s a longshot.

Ultimately, Detroit would demand an additional asset—and the trade probably wouldn’t be worth it for either team.

 

Kyle Okposo, Buffalo Sabres

Four Years Remaining @ $6 million cap hit

Modified-NTC (15 teams)

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 78 14 15 29

Okposo had a terrible season in 2018/19, but in general he’s performed a lot better than Loui Eriksson since their contracts began. He’s undoubtedly a better fit for the Canucks at the moment and their cap hits are equal, but he also comes with an extra year of contract—and that’s probably not feasible. 

Buffalo might be interested in such a trade to rid themselves of the extra year—especially on a contract like Okposo’s that is virtually buyout-proof—but, as an up-and-coming team, they’d also be better off keeping the higher-quality veteran.

It’s unlikely either team would agree to this deal.

 

Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks

Three Years Remaining @ $7.25 million cap hit

Modified-NTC (10 teams), NMC

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 78 15 27 42

Ryan has consistently performed better than Eriksson over the last half-decade, and he’s also two years younger. He would certainly fit better on the roster than Eriksson currently does—but then again, Ryan is also paid significantly more than Eriksson. Retention would be necessary on Ottawa’s end.

The Senators would be interested in this trade for the simple fact that Eriksson is owed a lot less money over the next three years than Ryan is. At this point, owner Eugene Melnyk’s priorities are so self-apparent that we needn’t risk the libel charge for spelling them out here.

The trick in a deal like this would be convincing the Senators to retain enough of Ryan’s salary to even up the cap hits—and that’s about when Melnyk will lose interest.

  

Thinking Outside The Box 

Harman Dayal caught some serious attention for his suggestion of a Loui Eriksson for Ryan Kesler trade, and it’s a transaction that might make a lot more sense than it does at first blush.

Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks

Three Years Remaining @ $6.875 million cap hit

NMC (turns to 8 team NTC in 2021/22)

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 60 5 3 8

The proposal initially drew a lot of heat because Kesler is the rare combination of a player who is both worse than and paid more than Loui Eriksson—but any such move would obviously be pre-empted by Kesler going on permanent long-term injury reserve, making his cap hit a moot point.

Convincing the Ducks to go along with it would rely on another unknown factor altogether—how much of Kesler’s contract could be recouped from insurance with him on LTIR. His hip issue—which required a resurfacing surgery in May—could qualify as a pre-existing condition, and that might increase the amount of Kesler’s salary that actually has to come out of Anaheim’s pockets.

If the Ducks end up having to cover a large portion of Kesler’s salary themselves, they could possibly be convinced to make a swap for a player they can actually use for the next three years—though some sort of asset-based incentive from Vancouver would have to be a part of it.

Sportsnet 650’s Satiar Shah speculated about a scenario that sounds like a best-case scenario for Eriksson—and perhaps for the Canucks as well. 

Andrew Cogliano, Dallas Stars

Two Years Remaining @ $3.25 million cap hit

Modified-NTC (6 teams)

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 78 6 11 17

 

Blake Comeau, Dallas Stars

Two Years Remaining @ $2.4 million cap hit

No Trade Protection

  Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 77 7 11 18

Taken together, the contracts of Cogliano and Comeau add up to one less year and fewer dollars against the cap than Eriksson’s. Even better, they would be a lot easier to move separately than Eriksson currently is as an individual.

There are countless teams around the league—including the Canucks, in all honesty—that could benefit from making room on their roster for the sturdy and speedy Cogliano.

Comeau, meanwhile, is cheap enough to bury for a season if need be—and relatively painless to buy out thereafter.

The Stars might—but probably don’t—have a slight interest in bringing back Eriksson, who enjoyed his best years in Dallas. Eriksson appears very interested in a return to the Lone Star State, with his family reportedly having already moved back to the area.

With all that being said, this trade would have to involve a serious addition from the Canucks—either through retention on Eriksson or a major asset or both.

Best-case scenarios rarely come cheap.

  • Let`s stop pretending that Dubas knows what he`s doing just because he`s in Toronto. He didn`t have to give up a 1st rounder to move Marleau. He got played by Waddell just like he got played by Nylander`s agent. Heck even Benning picked his pocket so stop equating Dubas, Toronto with competence. It`s media bias and nothing else.

    • People keep convieniently leaving out the fact that anyone taking on the Marleau contract would have to do so prior to the signing bonus in order to make the deal work. The Canes paid millions and took on cap space in exchance for the first round pick. Someone taking on Ericksson is doing so with the Canucks having paid his bonus and half his remaining salary in comparison to the cap hit. Comparing those two scenarios and then commenting on the price being a first round pick is totally misleading to someone who isn’t informed on the details.

      • Good article though

        I still think the potential solution with Ottawa (if its them) would involve a second overpaid player going over along with Ericksson. The sens would still be saving actual cash while taking on more cap space, which has been their strat over the summer. Seems like a wine-win, that’s how deals get done. Hopefully Benning can do something better than taking on a less bad 3 year contract but in any case I think there should be something available to improve the Ericksson situation. This article does a good job at highlighting potential opportunities to build a deal around

        • Yeah, Ottawa would make sense as they seem to be making these kinds of deals. However, there seems to be a lot of teams wanting to free up cap space and not a lot of teams wanting to take on contracts. There was a proposal in the Erickson WWYD article that I thought made a lot of sense, but how many more of these deals do the Senators want to make, and how bad do they want to rid themselves of Ryan’s contract.

        • that could make sense depending on Ottawa’s need for depth. We we could send Eriksson and Schaller and retain $1.5 and $1 respectively. That would clean up $5.5m I believe, which should be enough to work with Brock. and make space for bonuses. Then Ottawa is only really paying those guys $2.5 per y for both. Schaller likely to have a bounce back season, same for Louie.

    • Let’s stop pretending that Jimbo even knows what “Outside the Box” thinking is.

      Benning plays checkers like a 8 year old while his peers are playing chess and thinking several moves ahead at all times. The last 5 years is proof of this to a proverbial ‘T’.

  • The thing is if you’re just swapping contracts that are essentially the same or even represent a relatively small savings — like Alzner for example, then the bigger question becomes whether or not it’s worth it to do so at all. That Loui Eriksson is not worth his salary is abundantly clear (though I still think he’s been poorly utilized at times and put into roles that don’t maximize offensive potential quite often); but he’s a serviceable 3rd liner at best. Most of the players on this list are anything but, much as Lucic is not (if there’s a downfall for the Flames it’s that dumb trade as much as not improving their goaltending). Even if you bury LE in Utica, he’s a viable call-up — Alzner is not. I get that many of the other contracts are not buyout proof, but I’d be really hesitant about adding a Bobby Ryan for more money. And if it costs us a Virtanen or Juolevi for someone to take LE, that is definitely not worth it. I say we bite the bullet and bury the contract, take the $1 million in cap space that frees up and say that the other $5 million is worth not losing a decent young prospect.

    • I think the idea is more that it’s easier to get out of an Alzner-type contract than Eriksson’s. As in, a small asset with Eriksson for Alzner and then a small asset to get rid of Alzner is better than a large asset to just get rid of Eriksson from the get-go.

      But in general, I agree with you and think putting Eriksson in Utica this season is the most likely and safest outcome.

    • Erikkson’s contract is buyout proof because so much of the money he is getting is in the form of signing bonuses. Signing bonus money cannot be “bought out”. Alzner’s deal is all actual salary so there are real cap savings available if the Canucks were willing to do that trade any buy Alzner out.

    • With the glut of forwards and signing of Ferland adding Jake isn’t such a horrendous idea, but not Olli. I still believe Olli will be a solid top four guy that will slide in after Edler is gone.
      I have wanted Jake to step up and become a 20 goal Power Forward, but every year seems less likely. He might have a one or two 20 goal years in him, but his size and speed aren’t matched by his Hockey IQ and hands.

      • what planet are you on? jake got 15 goals in 70 games largely playing with 4th liners. give him big minutes with skilled players and he’ll easily get 20 or more.

        • Come on man….
          If Trav thought he could score 20 goals on the top line he would be there. Jake does the same try to skate around the Dman move and can’t really pass. He doesn’t have the hockey sense to be in the right place and find the right man.
          He did a few times last year and it did stand out, because it doesn’t happen too often
          Again, I like Jake and want him to succeed, but his ceiling is a Ferland type player and we have one for 4 yrs. just a numbers game to get Brock signed

    • I don’t seem to get a lot of love for this when I post it, but I’d be trying to dodge giving up a meaningful asset/pick or bringing back another anchor contract. I’d retain half his salary and dump him for literally anything. 3 million saved on the cap is worth it, I’m not sure what the deal would look like, but I’d try and find someone who actually saw value in him at 3 million. Then try and swap a 5th and Eriksson for the nebulous “future considerations” or a minor league player who just eats one of the 50 contract slots to help the other team. I’ve had this downvoted before, so I’m not sure if it’s that people aren’t wanting to eat the 3 million or just don’t think it’s realistic. Feedback is welcome.

    • swapping a big contract for another in return puts us in the same cap sitch as before…unless we get a player we like, which would make aother player or two reduntant who might be more easily traded…..or if the new contract coming back is back end loaded and therefore buyout friendly.

  • Fail his physical at TC,
    LTIR his useless self
    Send him home and threaten him with a lawsuit if he even breathes a word to the media or on social platforms.

    Toronto did it already and nothing happened to them.

    Or if you want a more foolproof story, plant drugs on him like the Kings allegedly did with Mike Richards in order to void his contract.

    All it takes is creative thinking management. Wonder where Canucks could find some of that….

  • The best trade would be for a reclamation project that could be bought out, but so far I don’t see it.
    Anyone on a lesser number or fewer years will require adds and swapping Loui for someone that can’t play doesn’t help. He is still an effective bottom 9 guy and on PK. I have a feeling he plays in Van next year and GMJB makes a Sutter or Tanev trade.
    If Loui does get dealt, I’m sure Jake V will probably have to accompany him. Unless some team wants Kole Lind?
    I don’t think that Loui is the type of person to throw down and ultimatum and Green seems like he doesn’t care what Loui says, he will play where he fits. Bet Loui is wearing Green in Oct

    • Giving up Jake is too much. Giving up Kole Lind is also too much (I hope!). I would not be surprised in the least to see him on the team. 1 more year of us eating his contract will make it far easier to move him next year, assuming his play doesn’t deteriorate even further. Maybe, just maybe, the team is better, a rising tide lifts all ships, and he looks more palatable to the other team’s.

      • I agree.
        Next year his actual salary goes down to 4 mil and the same the next year plus the 15 team No trade list.
        I think that this “we don’t get in 100%” is much ado about nothing. The only person anyone gets along with 100% is themselves

    • I agree wholeheartedly….simply cause Benning proves every single day he simply cannot get the important decisions done successfully.

      • Sign me up for the popcorn. JB doesn’t appear worried. No use in getting worked up, maybe have a beer too. Boeser signs after start of the season or something crazy to comply with the cap. Curious to see what the team looks like on the ice. dog days of summer, here we go.

  • First decide whether he is replaceable as a player. If dumping him makes the team worse, then keep him.
    He can fit under the cap. No need to take another bad contract or player unless they get a good young player, or save money to sign another piece.
    On ice is the more important than the team’s bank account.
    If he is a 4th liner and penalty killerthat says the team has improved a lot since he was signed. Otherwise we’d stillbe wondering if he was a fit for Petey.

    • With a different contract, Loui would be a solid bet on the team. That’s why I don’t think he will just be swapped to swap him. He isn’t scoring, but if the team wins and is in playoff contention…. that covers up a lot of personal junk.
      GMJB will find a way to get Brock signed. After Bo took a reasonable contract, I see Brock doing the same since he knows EP will need to get paid.
      6 mil per versus 7mil per at 25 is not a big deal to keep your world class teammates around.
      We saw the Sedins and Edler do it.

      • I think you’re stretching a bit on that one. The Twins and Edler did that because the nucleus was already established, and they got a ton of contract protection. Plus the team was already winning and in win now mode.
        1 million per is a big deal when your entire career could be derailed with one body slam into an open gate. Expecting players to take less than what they can get is not realistic, especially in this case.
        If the canucks want to get him at a lower cap level hit then they’ll simply have to play hardball. Offer him 6 million and just let him sit for as long as it takes. If he misses an entire season, so be it.
        Unfortunately the players have no recourse. The elders in their union don’t really care about freeing up the contract control for the younger players so their stuck in a system where they pretty much have to take what the team offers. The fact that so many NHL GM’s capitulate to high demands of young players is actually a bit strange seeing as they technically have so much control over them.
        Having said all that, I will always side with the players to get as much money as they possibly can each and every time.

        • A bridge gap contract is the solution 3 yrs and a URFA at 25.
          I always get players getting what they can, but in Sal cap era top heavy teams become first round and out or maybe second round.
          Canucks have Bo/Brock/EP/ Quinn/eventually Thatcher as corner stones. EP and Quinn have the ability to be max guys and if Thatcher lives up to his promise…
          I wouldn’t be surprised if all these take a little less to stay together and win. Winning is what drives players. Security is next but winning is ultimate goal. If being the highest paid winger is the goal, then that guy shouldn’t be one of your leaders

          • He’ll want more money on a bridge deal. Can he be an unrestricted FA at 25?
            And that’s right, building a top heavy team is not a great idea in my opinion. It can work, of course. Like the Penguins have shown. But I’d rather the team be build with as much depth as possible.
            I wouldn’t bet on winning being what motivates players. Sounds idealistic and all, but when someone is waving millions of dollars in your face compared to someone else, it becomes very hard to prioritize winning a cup. And I don’t blame them one bit. It’s just a trophy. The long term security for not only me, but my entire family as well, is far far more important than winning a cup. I think a lot of fans like to think they’d choose a cup over money but those people are never actually in the situation where REAL money is being presented to them. Like many Vancouver fans being angry at Ehrhoff for not resigning. Those fans are ridiculous. Like the guy should have turned down 20 extra million just to continue with the canucks. Like any of us would have turned down 20 million dollars. Not a chance.

            The only way the canucks create balance, is to not worry about what the player’s motivations are or aren’t, but to dictate what you want to pay and then have the discipline to follow through.
            So you simply tell Boeser, or EP or Hughes or whomever, that you have maximums to maintain competitiveness and that’s what will be offered. Then you have to be prepared for players actually sitting out (like Nylander) but rather than capitulating you actually let them burn as many seasons as possible that you control. Yzerman’s best move was standing firm on Drouin.
            Players simply can’t afford to miss more than an entire season given the median average career lengths and amount of money they’d be sacrificing for their principles. I don’t agree with it, but it is what it is. And it’s a tool teams could use.

  • All of the theoretical guys listed to trade Loui for seems redundant. A Spartan apple for a Granny Smith, a tangerine for a navel orange, blah, blah, blah is what it looks like to me. You’re probably stuck with LE unless Goldy is thrown in just to dump the contract, not a great scenario. It’s a case of who really wants Loui, a good PK guy, but no game breaker. This issue won’t go away any time soon IMO.

  • If the issue is we want to trade him because of bad blood, etc. Then do it if a reasonable opportunity presents, don’t force the deal at an overall loss in the cost/benefit consideration. Media has likely blown things out of proportion, and as long as he competes and plays as a professional, who cares (I personally think things are made out to be way worse than they are, and LE is more suffering from a loss of mojo than he is having a hard time in the locker room)

    If the real issue is cap space, then all options should be considered by management, no solely focusing of the Eriksson contract. Eriksson is far fro the worst player on our roster, he just has the worst contract, which also makes it hardest to move. Moving Sutter, for instance, could open a space for Gaudette and free cap too. Until his injury was worth his money as a shutdown center, but even if his value has deflated, trading him for picks, or whatever you can get still opens up cap space. That’s just one idea. Time to think outside the Eriksson box!

  • Enough of the trade Eriksson articles and scenarios he will have to deal with Green on his comments to the Swedish press. He has not been a cancer yes he has lost his mojo. Green’s latest comments were not bad just more get over it Louie and work hard and you’ll get through it rather than getting all uppity and beaking off. He wants Eriksson to give more of a crap about the team than his own situation.
    Why would the owner want to overpay or trade for a crappy player. Eriksson is not a bad player just his contract he isn’t going anywhere get over that and see how he does in training camp.

  • It was pointed out to me recently that players on LTIR their salary is covered mostly by the insurance so Ducks see few benefits in ridding themselves of Kesler ? I suspect if they can find a trading partner and agree to retain 50% of his salary you might find a taker

    • the team has an underperforming $36 million investment and the coach hasn’t talked to him once in 3 months after he complains??? does the collective agreement forbid coaches from talking to players during the off season? aquillini really needs to hire a competent adult to run the show and slow down jimbo’s spending sprees.

  • If we retain up to $2mil in salary thus making his actually payable salary $1m for 3 seasons…that should be attractive for low cap teams that think Loie is still and NHLr. For teams with some cap flex, we could retain 1.5m, but also perhpas receive a bad contract in return but something that’s structured in a way that we can actually buy it out…like maybe a 2 year @ $4mil…possibly Cogliano. Maybe Dallas wants Eriksson back so they an flip him Marner.

    • …last line should say ‘…CAN flip him FOR Marner’. Eriksson’s got some voodoo value…he may just return a big haul (and by big I really hope not big albatros contracts). Ottawa make just look at who he was traded for in the past and assume he’s the real deal Tell scouting to take the rest of he week off.

  • For what it’s work, please bring back the upvote button. Happy to see the trash button gone since that ‘s a gift to the trolls.
    Rather than trash, make a comment explaining why you disagree.