Buying out Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the Canucks’ best option

Photo credit:Derek Cain-USA TODAY Sports
By Faber
1 year ago
Elliotte Friedman sent Canucks fans and the hockey world into a frenzy when he reported that the Canucks will be buying out Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
This situation was discussed ad nauseam on this website and honestly, I didn’t think it would actually happen.
It’s a bold move that opens up a lot of cap space next season and gives a good amount of space in the following three seasons.
The only real downside to the buyout is years five, six, seven, and eight of this buyout.
There are significant savings over the first four years of the contract and even after making a huge move, the eyes of Canucks fans are even more focused on management as they have to play their cards right with the most valuable thing in the NHL right now — cap space.
Yes, we are talking about the Canucks now having cap space. That’s the positive of the OEL buyout.
It’s reasonable to assume that the Canucks can find a top-four defenceman as well as a third-line centre with the $7,133,333 of cap space that they cleared up for the 2023-24 season. The problem with the cap space available this offseason is the fact that this is an extremely weak free-agency class. We are looking at the top-of-the-class defencemen being names like John Klingberg, Matt Dumba, and Ryan Graves while the centre group is led by names such as Ryan O’Reilly, J.T. Compher, and David Kampf, I guess?
The best route for improving the team is likely trading for roster players or looking to take on one-to-two years of bad money that comes with picks or prospects. One thing is for sure, the Canucks certainly have a lot more flexibility with their roster after buying out OEL.
It’s great for the here and now and if we see the salary cap have a significant rise over the coming years, years five through eight of the buyout cap-hit won’t be that bad on the team. $2,126,667 shouldn’t be that bad for the overall construction of the Canucks’ roster but it’s certainly not going to help. Management has now put more pressure on themselves in the long term but has taken that long-term risk with the advantage of being much more financially flexible over the next four seasons.
We can’t talk about this deal being a win/win situation but we can surely say that it’s a win/minor loss type of deal.
The Canucks will be better over the next four years because of this buyout and if they utilize the cap space correctly, years five through eight of the buyout won’t be looked at as a huge detriment to the team’s attempt at roster creation.
This team is going to try their absolute hardest to make the playoffs next season and we now have to unfortunately keep an eye on that 11th overall pick. The team is in win-now mode and you have to believe that the added flexibility from the buyout opens up even more options for the Canucks at 11th overall. The Canucks’ first-round pick could get them in the conversation for one of the high-profile restricted free agents and now that they have the cap space, they can actually sign that RFA.
A couple of RFAs to watch include Bowen Byram (LD) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (C).
The Canucks are in win-now mode, just as they were when they made the trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. But that was Jim Benning, we can’t truly be angry at current management for the buyout because they didn’t make the move to trade for OEL. One thing we wanted to see was the restructuring of the defence corps and with Filip Hronek coming in, OEL going out, and Tyler Myers clearly on the block — we are going to see a much different defence corps next season. And that’s a good thing.
Moving on from OEL also provides a bit of closure. Yes, the buyout will still be here for eight years but the team has drawn a line in the sand by buying him out which shows a higher standard for play.
We don’t think the Canucks are done making big moves.
It’s going to be a wild three weeks as the NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency are fast approaching.
Here. We. Go.

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