With Thatcher Demko knocking on the door and Braden Holtby signing a deal that benefits the team in both the short and long-term, losing Jacob Markstrom was a loss, but one the Canucks felt they were well-equipped to handle.
With a plethora of top four defencemen available — 14 by our count — the Canucks were comfortable letting the Calgary Flames overpay for Chris Tanev’s services.
The first tough pill to swallow was the Troy Stecher situation, where the Canucks did indeed circle back, but asked Stecher to wait until they could see if Tyson Barrie would sign with them. By the time Barrie made his decision to sign with the Edmonton Oilers, it was too late and Stecher inked a two-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings at a very team-friendly $1.7 million AAV.
Then they lost Tyler Toffoli earlier this morning, who signed a four-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens that will pay him less annually than what he made on his last deal.
The issue is, when you don’t have a ton of cap space while your two best players are on ELCs for one more season, you want to get the most value from everybody else in your lineup.
That’s why walking from Markstrom and Tanev were viewed as positive moves for the most part, given the term and big money that was handed out to each of them. The public opinion was that the Canucks were smart not to match those deals.
However, they’re not getting any bang for their buck when it comes to the bottom six contracts, so on the other side of that coin, losing two players who bring value on team-friendly deals in Stecher and Toffoli is a massive blow for the club.
The Toffoli contract is a tidy piece of work by the Canadiens and one that’s left fans wondering why Vancouver couldn’t match it.
The Canadiens have agreed to terms with forward Tyler Toffoli on a four-year contract (until 2023-24). The deal has an average annual value of $4.25 million.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) October 12, 2020
Aside from the fact that the Canucks paid a premium when they traded for just 17 games of Toffoli — although that is definitely part of what makes this pill so tough to swallow — Toffoli walked to free agency and actually got paid less than what the Canucks were paying him to begin with. Not only that, but he’s being paid less for each of the next four years than what the Canucks are currently paying Brandon Sutter.
Toffoli would have been a good top-six winger — who Elias Pettersson has expressed to management the importance of — on a low-risk deal for the Canucks, but instead has walked to Montreal. The Canucks are seemingly ultra-focused on repairing the blue line, and it will be curious to see how they go about doing that moving forward.
There’s still plenty of options and plenty of time for them to make a move, but losing a top six winger who they gave up future assets for at such a low number is not ideal for a team trying to find value everywhere they can.