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4 free agents the Canucks could sign with an extra $3-4 million in cap space
By Noah Strang9 months ago
NHL insider Frank Seravalli made some waves recently when he mentioned that there is a very real chance the league’s salary cap will experience a significant increase next season. On a recent edition of the Oilers Nation Everyday, Seravalli and co-host Tyler Yaremchuk were discussing how there’s a good chance the salary cap gets a $3-4 million bump this summer.
As Mike Gould eloquently broke down in this article here, Seravalli reported that the players may have some additional leverage in the form of claims to hockey-related revenue worth $100 million. This means that the NHLPA might be able to negotiate a salary cap increase in the $3-$4 million range.
For the Canucks, the salary cap increasing quicker than expected would be a dream come true. The organization has committed to pushing for the playoffs in the next 2-3 year window but don’t have much cap space at their disposal to get better. This increase would not only make all of their current bad contracts slightly more palatable, but also give the team the opportunity to make further moves this summer.
If they did manage to get this extra cap space, it seems likely that management would allocate at least a portion to being players in the free agent market. It can be debated as to if it’s the smartest way forward, but the transactions made by this management regime so far suggest that they would be looking to use that newfound cap space immediately.
While this year’s free agency class doesn’t stand out on paper, the Canucks wouldn’t be going after any big fish anyways. Instead, the largest priorities would be adding another centreman as well as more defensive help . Here are four free agents the Canucks could target if they did get bailed out with a cap increase for the 2023-24 NHL season.
Pius Suter, 26, C, Detroit Red Wings
Current Salary: $3.25 million
2022-23 NHL Stats: 79 GP, 14 G, 10 A, 24 PTS
After a productive first two years in the NHL, Pius Suter’s number took a dip this season as he managed just 24 points across 79 GP. His 0.30 points-per-game this year fell far below the 0.49 and 0.43 marks he recorded in his first two seasons. Because of that, some of the interest and hype around Suter has cooled.
However, Suter brings more to the table than just scoring. He has played all three positions in the past and can fill in on the wing in a pinch. This versatility means that he can be moved around the lineup as Rick Tocchet desires. Last but far from least, he’s an effective penalty killer and has played significant minutes in that role.
The Canucks have a desperate hole to fill at centre and Suter could be a cheap option to add some stability to the position group in the bottom-six. At 26 years old, he’s younger than most other unrestricted free agents, still has lots of good hockey in front of him, and would fit the timeline nicely. He’s likely to cost somewhere around the $3 million mark this summer.
Carson Soucy, 28, LD, Seattle Kraken
Current Salary: $2.75 million
2022-23 NHL Stats: 78 GP, 3 G, 13 A, 16 PTS
Carson Soucy is sure to attract the attention of multiple NHL teams this offseason, especially after the strong playoff run the Seattle Kraken just had. Soucy is a 6’5″, 198 pound defenceman that would bring a size and strength aspect to a Canucks defence group that can be lacking in that department at times.
Soucy is a defensive defenceman but one who is very good at what he does. He uses his long stick and imposing size to shut down opponent’s attempts at entering the zone. He ranked first among eligible Kraken skaters in shots-against per sixty minutes at 5-on-5 as well as goals against. In fact, the Kraken only allowed 2.01 goals-against per sixty minutes with Soucy on the ice at 5-on-5, a full 10% better than any other teammate with at least 1000 minutes.
He finished the year with the third most blocked shots on the Kraken and the fourth most hits. Soucy might get a small raise on his current salary, but again, he shouldn’t be far over the $3 million mark. He would be a great addition to the Canucks’ blue line, especially if the team created an opening on the left side through a buyout of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract.
David Kampf, 28, C/W, Toronto Maple Leafs
Current Salary: $1.5 million
2022-23 NHL Stats: 82 GP, 7 G, 20 A, 27 PTS
If the Canucks were looking for a cheaper boost to the forward group, adding David Kampf would be a great start. There are big changes coming in Toronto and it seems likely that they will let the defensive specialist test the free agency market. While he doesn’t play a flashy game, Kampf is a useful player that can win face-offs, play on the penalty kill, and cause chaos.
Kampf isn’t going to be the answer to that hole in the 3C position, but he would be a very solid fourth-liner that would take enjoyment in making life miserable for his opponents. His 27 points last year also prove that he’s not a complete black hole when it comes to offence.
“My goal is to shut down the best players in the NHL,” Kampf has said in the past. Adding someone with that mentality to the bottom-six would give the Canucks the foundation they need to free up players like J.T. Miller for easier matchups. It’s easy to envision an effective fourth line that features Kampf alongside Dakota Joshua.
Scott Mayfield, 30, RD, New York Islanders
Current Salary: $1.45 million
2022-23 NHL Stats: 82 GP, 6 G, 18 A, 24 PTS
Scott Mayfield and the Canucks are not the most natural fit, mostly due to the right-handed defenceman’s age. At 30 years old, Mayfield makes more sense on a contender than a team that still looks to be a few years away from making a serious run at the Stanley Cup. However, if the Canucks managed to move off of Tyler Myers and were really pushing for the playoffs next season, Mayfield could be a suitable acquisition to munch minutes on the right side.
He’s coming off the best season of his career where he recorded 24 points and played major minutes for an Islanders team that managed to squeak into the playoffs. While he may think twice about joining Vancouver after spending half a season with Bo Horvat on Long Island, Mayfield could instantly slide into a top-four role on the west coast.
At 6’5″ and 223 pounds, Mayfield is a massive human that seems like a natural fit next to Quinn Hughes. If the Canucks entered next season with a top-four that included Hughes, Filip Hronek, and Mayfield, that would give them their best defence group in years.
Mayfield did play well enough this year to earn a raise and could even double his salary from last season. While it’s not a perfect long-term fit for the Canucks, the lack of options on the free agent market this year could make a short-term deal for someone like Mayfield a viable option.
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