6 players the Canucks can trade as they ‘aggressively’ attempt to cut cap, and what they might get in return
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
Can’t say we didn’t see this one coming.
As far back as mid-July, we were sounding the alarm on, if not an impending cap crisis, than at least an upcoming cap crunch of some sort as the Canucks tried to narrow down their roster for the 2023/24 season opener.
We revisited the topic in August after the signing of Pius Suter and the near-simultaneous report that Tanner Pearson was healthy and would be coming to Training Camp in an attempt to win back his spot on the team.
Our conclusion at the time was that at least one further move was needed. The Canucks simply could not ice their full complement of players under the cap if everyone (except Tucker Poolman) was healthy. Even Ilya Mikheyev’s extended recovery from injury didn’t change matters much.
Something had to give.
And that something, according to a report from Rick Dhaliwal, is a trade that the Canucks are now “aggressively” and even “feverishly” trying to make.
“I think the Canucks are aggressively trying to make a trade right now, folks,” stated Dhaliwal. “Keep an eye on it, they’re trying to move a body to create cap space… The season is upon us, they’re over the cap, there are LTIR candidates but they also need to move a body so I think that they are feverishly working the phones right now trying to move a body. We’ll see how that goes this week.”
So, who might that body be?
The amount of camp space needed is small, but it’s not insignificant, especially with Tanner Pearson having been activated from LTIR earlier today.
But the list of trade candidates is also quite small. You’ve got players like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, JT Miller, Thatcher Demko, Ilya Mikheyev, and Andrei Kuzmenko, each too important to the current lineup to move. You’ve got brand-new additions in Filip Hronek, Carson Soucy, Pius Suter, Teddy Blueger, and Ian Cole that won’t be moved quite yet. And then you’ve got the entire bottom-end of the roster, where nobody makes enough money to make an ounce of difference to the cap.
Below, we look at the few remaining realistic candidates for a preseason cap-cutting transaction, as well as the general odds of that player moving and what, if anything, the Canucks might expect in return.
Tyler Myers, $6 million cap hit
As the literal $6 million man, and on an expiring contract to boot, Myers is by far the Canucks’ simplest means by which to cut cap. That’s especially true now that Myers’ $5 million signing bonus has been paid and he’s owed just $1 million in base salary from here on out.
But both the amount of teams that can afford Myers’ cap hit, and the amount of teams that could realistically use his services in the upcoming season are slim, and there’s not a lot of overlap there.
The Canucks don’t, of course, need to trade Myers’ full cap hit. They could retain up to half of his contract, or they could trade him for a replacement of up to $4 million in value. In fact, a replacement might be better, particularly if that replacement plays RHD, because, at the moment, the team that might need Myers the most on the ice is the Canucks.
What might they get back?: Nothing really. At full retention or with a considerable cap dump coming back, the Canucks would be fortunate to get a mid-round pick back. Anything less and they are almost certainly paying to move Myers.
Tanner Pearson, $3.25 million cap hit
Now that Pearson is in camp and seems good-to-go health-wise, he immediately becomes the most likely candidate for trade. This entire roster was essentially constructed with his absence in mind, and now he sticks out like a sore thumb as the obvious excess winger on the roster, something the Canucks don’t need and can’t really afford.
We’ve stated before that demoting Pearson is a handy way to shave the exact $1.25 million off the cap that the Canucks need (the maximum buriable amount), and it may be a necessary move after he’s spent a year away from hockey. But trading Pearson, even at 50% retention, would save the Canucks more, and avoid the awkwardness of sending down a beloved veteran teammate who has bravely battled back from multiple surgeries.
What might they get back?: If Pearson really is back and ready to play to at least close to his previous standard of play, there should be suitors out there for him. With retention on his contract, that list should grow, and his value could even tip somewhere into the positive side of the scale.
A team like Chicago might see Pearson as a valuable veteran with which to insulate Connor Bedard, or a team unimpressed with their own PTOs might look at Pearson as a potential upgrade. At 50% retention, we could see a mid-to-late range draft pick coming back, or a project prospect. At full price, the Canucks still have to pay to move Pearson.
Conor Garland, $4.95 million cap hit
If rumours are to be believed, the Canucks have been attempting to move Garland all summer, and there’s as of yet been no takers. That’s perhaps to be expected after a down season and with three years still remaining on his contract.
It’s hard to imagine any team that wasn’t willing to commit to Garland’s contract suddenly deciding it’s a good idea this late into the offseason. Spots have been filled, salary has been committed, and only about six teams even feasibly have the cap space. At best, we could see Garland swapped out for a slightly cheaper contract of similar length, but a fit might be difficult to find. Earlier in the summer, we floated the idea of Mathieu Joseph for Garland, but Ottawa’s subsequent signings have made that all but impossible.
The Canucks are probably better off waiting to see if Garland rebounds at all before putting him back on the market.
What might they get back?: Nothing. There’s just no conceivable means through which Garland is traded at a profit right now, not unless the Canucks are willing to retain on all three remaining years of his deal or take a serious cap dump back in return. Maybe that time will come again, and maybe not.
Anthony Beauvillier, $4.15 million cap hit
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Beauvillier is easily the Canucks’ best combination of tradeable and valuable. His strong run of scoring in Vancouver last season and his reasonable expiring salary for a middle-six winger makes him palatable for nearly any team still trying to add offence to the roster, and that value only increases with a smidgen of salary retention.
Again, this late into the offseason, there aren’t that many teams that could accommodate Beauvillier’s cap hit, but there are some, including teams like Detroit, Nashville, and Buffalo that still have their eyes on the playoffs. Any of them could get a jumpstart on the rental market by picking up Beauvillier now, which is the point at which the cost for him might just be at its lowest.
What might they get back?: Actually something. In a vacuum, Beauvillier is easily worth a second round pick. In this particularly cramped market, his value is probably slightly south of that, but still within the mid-range pick range. Slap a little retention on top, and Beauvillier is right back in second rounder territory. Such a trade could benefit the Canucks in multiple ways.
Brock Boeser, $6.65 million cap hit
It’s true that Boeser has the highest cap hit of anyone the Canucks might realistically trade right now, which would theoretically make him a good candidate for this column. But that same salary, and the fact that there’s two years left remaining on his deal, conspire to make Boeser almost impossible to move right now.
Besides, both he and the team have made more than enough statements about his desire to remain in Vancouver that suddenly turning around and surprise-trading him would not sit right. The plan seems to be to allow Boeser one more chance to bounce back to the Boeser of old, and any trade talk will have to wait until that has either come to pass or hasn’t.
What might they get back?: Nothing, and it’s not happening yet anyway.
Tucker Poolman, $2.5 million cap hit
Poolman is expected to essentially enter LTIRetirement, earning the rest of his contract from the sidelines due to ongoing concussion-related symptoms. He can thus be placed on LTIR from the get-go this season and be exchanged for up to $2.5 million in cap relief.
But the Canucks would find themselves in a much more flexible position if they didn’t have to bother with that LTIR placement in the first place. Removing Poolman from the equation allows them much more wiggle room; enough, for example, to demote Pearson and then run a 23-player roster that is genuinely below the salary cap…as in, at the point where the Canucks can actually accrue cap space as the year goes on.
This would be ideal, and all it would cost another team is the cap space, as Poolman’s contract is almost certainly insured. It would cost them two years of cap space, but perhaps that is negotiable for a somewhat reasonable price.
Injured players can be traded, by the way, despite a popular misconception.
What might they get back?: This is as pure a cap dump as it gets, and so the Canucks would have to pay up. But how much? The Anaheim Ducks, for example, still have dozens of millions of dollars in cap space, and don’t seem eager to use it. Wouldn’t they be better off using that cap space and picking up a third or a couple fourth round picks for their trouble, especially if it won’t cost them an actual dollar?
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