Photo credit:© Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
A breakdown of what cap space the Vancouver Canucks have left
By Noah Strang7 months ago
The challenge for NHL general managers in the modern age is no longer just to build the best team possible. With the way that the league is now set up, being able to build the best team dollar-for-dollar is a much more valuable skill. Navigating the salary cap is a treacherous task that has cost many general managers their job.
For the Canucks, managing their contracts has been a struggle for the past decade. It was not a strength of former GM Jim Benning and he left the new regime with quite a mess to tidy up.
Heading into this season, the Canucks have some of the most money committed of any NHL team. Considering that excluding the bubble season, the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014-15, that’s not an encouraging sign.
As of today, the Canucks still have some work to do to make sure that they’re cap compliant for next season. Let’s get into a breakdown of what the Canucks salary cap picture looks like at the moment and how they can make sure they get under the cap ceiling for next season.
The Canucks cap space as of today
As of right now, CapFriendly projections have the Canucks exceeding the regular season salary cap by ~$4.3 million. Because the salary cap increases by 10% during the offseason, they still are under the effective salary cap for today.
The offseason salary cap is set at $91.85 million as that is a 10% increase on the in-season cap. The Canucks are currently sitting at $87.767 million in projected commitments. The 2023-24 NHL salary cap is $83.5 million, meaning that the Canucks have a few months to perform some salary cap gymnastics and reduce their cap hit by $4.25 million.
There are some relatively simple ways that they could achieve this. The first would be to dump the money through a trade. There have been plenty of rumours swirling around Tyler Myers and his $6 million cap hit. If the Canucks could find a taker and receive $2 million or less in return, that would do all of the heavy lifting right there. That is much easier said than done.
Another option that the Canucks have is to use the LTIR. This has become one of the most popular cap weapons in recent years and it would be an effective way to get that $4.25 million off the books before opening night.
How the Canucks can become cap compliant using LTIR
The Canucks have two candidates for preseason LTIR in Tucker Poolman and Tanner Pearson. Poolman has dealt with health issues during his entire time with the Vancouver Canucks and his repeated head injuries mean that he might not be ready to go at the start of the season. Pearson injured his hand last year and had a difficult time during the recovery process but some reports suggest that he will be ready for the start of traning camp, removing the possibility of him being an LTIR candidate.
The Canucks can put players on LTIR before the season starts to become cap-compliant. It’s not the best idea for teams to use the LTIR during the offseason as entering the regular season under the cap helps to maximize the relief that you’ll get from midseason LTIR moves, but it could be the easiest move for the Canucks.
Players can be placed on LTIR during the offseason as long as they find a doctor to sign off on the fact that they’ll likely miss at least 10 games over 24 days to begin the year.
If the Canucks do place a player on LTIR during the offseason, the team’s LTIR pool will be set at however much they’re over the cap when they become cap compliant. It will stay that way as long as they have at least one player on LTIR. When compared to how LTIR works during the regular season where teams open up the salary of the injured player minus their available cap space, it’s more efficient to enter the regular season already cap compliant.
The ~$4.3 million that the Canucks need to shed does include a full 23-man roster. By going down to the minimum 20-man roster by sending some of their two-way contracts to the AHL, the Canucks can reduce that surplus by about ~$2.5 million. This would bring them closer to the cap and help them make more efficient use of the LTIR.
What’s the best way for the Canucks to become cap compliant?
The easiest way for the Canucks to become cap compliant for the 2023-24 NHL season is to make another trade. With players like Tyler Myers and Conor Garland in the rumour mill, dealing either one would help greatly towards fitting under the salary cap to start next season. However, it’s clear that the market isn’t burning hot for these players, and the Canucks would likely be receiving salary commitments in return.
If that’s not possible, the game for Patrik Allvin becomes how to get as close to the salary cap before the season starts so that when they do have to place players on LTIR, they can maximize the available cap space they can free up. With a few two-way contracts on their current 23-man roster, they could free up an additional ~$2.3 million by papering down players like Nils Aman, Phil Di Giussepe, and Guillaume Brisebois, the three players currently projected on the roster with the most costly two-way contracts.
All in all, there are multiple routes that the Canucks could go to ensure that they make the most of their salary cap situation. The work is not done for Patrik Allvin who will still need to get creative to ensure that the money makes sense for the team heading into the 2023-24 NHL season.
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