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Can the Vancouver Canucks afford to offer sheet Evan Bouchard?
By Noah Strang7 months ago
Starting on July 1st, restricted free agents around the NHL will be allowed to sign offer sheets from any interested teams. While most summers come and go without any offer sheets being signed, there is one situation this summer that is sure to at least make many organizations think long and hard about the possibility.
Evan Bouchard has emerged as one of the brightest young defencemen in the NHL. At just 23 years old, he’s recorded back-to-back 40+ point seasons and was dominant during the Oilers’ 2022-23 playoff run with 17 points in 12 games.
His entry-level contract expires this summer, making him a restricted free agent. While his early emergence as a star has been great for the Oilers on the ice, it’s going to cause headaches for them away from the ice as he’s due for a big pay raise. The Oilers have less than $10 million in cap space with a few free agents they still need to re-sign.
Daniel Nugent-Bowman, the Edmonton Oilers writer for The Athletic, wrote in a recent article that “it’s very unlikely the Oilers will be able to match any substantial offer sheet Bouchard chooses to sign”.
While offer sheets are signed very rarely in reality, the Bouchard situation appears ripe for the taking if any organization is willing to pony up. As a legitimate top-four right-handed defenceman, he represents one of the most valuable commodities across the NHL.
Would this situation make sense for the Canucks to pounce on an offer sheet? Let’s take a closer look at the player and the approximate price it would take to pry him from a divisional rival.
Just how good is Evan Bouchard?
The Canucks know more than anyone just how hard it can be to find quality right-handed defencemen in the NHL. Bouchard is one of the league’s finest and he’s just 23 years old. As his game continues to mature, everything seems set up for Bouchard to become a legitimate number one defenceman.
He’s a great passer at both five-on-five and on the power play where he has shown the ability to quarterback a top unit. Bouchard makes good decisions with the puck on his stick and while he does have the occasional defensive lapse, that’s to be expected as he’s still in his early 20s.
Last season, Bouchard had the best Corsi % of any Oilers defenceman to play more than 50 games with the team at 56.95%. Adding Bouchard to a group that features Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek would go a long ways to converting the Canucks’ defence from a weakness to a strength, but how much would that cost?
How much would a Bouchard offer sheet cost?
The average annual value for an offer sheet is calculated slightly differently than a traditional contract. If the contract is longer than five years, the total value is divided by five to find the value used in the compensation chart for offer sheets. This means that any contract that had a total value of more than ~$53.626 million would require four first round picks.
If the Canucks, or any other organization, want to sign Bouchard, it’s going to require a large contract that forces the Oilers out of the running. That contract will almost definitely be worth more than $53.626 million. A good starting point would likely be somewhere around $65 million over eight years. That would make his cap hit $8.125 million, a number that the Canucks could afford if they added a draft pick to dump Conor Garland or Tyler Myers.
Bouchard is showing all the signs of being worth that dollar amount and more. However, four first round picks is a very expensive price to pay for any one player.
If the Canucks were going to make this move, it would start with dumping the Myers contract on a team like the Sharks, something where discussions have reportedly occurred. The Canucks would likely have to attach a solid draft pick, perhaps a second-round selection as the Islanders just did to dump Josh Bailey’s $5 million salary.
The Canucks would then have the cap space to offer Bouchard that $65 million / eight-year contract. If, and that’s a big if, it were to all play out like this, the total draft capital cost to the Canucks would be four first round draft picks the second round draft pick used to sweeten the trade. While Bouchard is a great player, that’s a very expensive price to pay, especially to a team that you’re going to be playing so often.
Now if the Canucks went with a $37.5 million / five year contract, that would only cost them one first round pick, one second round pick, and one third round pick. However, at the cheaper AAV, there is a much larger chance that the Oilers would figure out a way to make the money work and match the deal.
Unfortunately, it seems too rich for the Canucks to be seriously in. The team has traded away so many picks in recent years that it can’t afford to give up any more, even if they would be getting a stud defenceman. While it might make sense for a team with extra draft capital, such as the Nashville Predators, the Canucks are going to have to gear up for the likely possibility of game planning for Bouchard multiple times a year for the next decade.
Tune into the The Daily Faceoff Live Free Agent Special on July 1st from 11am – 1pm EST hosted by Tyler Yaremchuk, featuring NHL insider Frank Seravalli, serving you all the up to the minute details!
Then, check out Canucks Conversation at 1pm PST where Quads and Faber break down the frenzy of Free Agency.
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