Ethan Bear, Akito Hirose headline list of Vancouver Canucks RFAs due qualifying offers in June
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould3 months ago
We’re now firmly into the middle of June, which means the National Hockey League’s annual qualifying offer deadline is fast approaching.
Each and every year, the NHL’s 32 member clubs have until the later of June 25 or the first Monday after the Entry Draft to tender one-year qualifying offers to their restricted free agents. This year, the deadline is June 30 at 2:00 p.m. PT.
The value of a player’s qualifying offer is determined, in part, by the salary they earned in the final year of their previous contract. And although a player is under no obligation to accept their qualifying offer, teams must tender QOs to each restricted free agent they wish to keep — any RFA not tendered a qualifying offer becomes eligible to test the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
On the other hand, a team is not required to qualify a player to remain in negotiations with them. Many RFAs sign contract extensions with their teams before they even reach the qualifying offer stage — Jett Woo already did this in May — and a team may keep in contact with any player they elect not to tender for any reason. They simply become a pending UFA instead of remaining an RFA.
This year, the Canucks have six players to whom they must tender qualifying offers to retain their exclusive RFA negotiating rights. Here’s the full list, with the value of their one-year qualifying offers shown in parentheses:
- RHD Ethan Bear ($2.2 million)
- LHD Travis Dermott ($1.75 million)
- LHD Akito Hirose ($897,750)
- LW Nils Höglander ($874,125)
- LW Vitali Kravtsov ($840,000)
- C Carson Focht ($787,500)
It’s worth noting that of these six pending RFAs, only Hirose and Höglander are ineligible to file for salary arbitration. Furthermore, as stipulated by NHL rule 10.2(c), Hirose’s lack of professional experience renders him unable to sign an offer sheet with another NHL club.
Kravtsov already signed a two-year deal with KHL club Traktor Chelyabinsk earlier this off-season, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Canucks tender him a QO regardless to retain his NHL rights until his 27th birthday. Kravtsov will turn 24 in December of this year.
Conversely, the Canucks likely won’t tender Dermott, although they may still try to work out a deal with the 26-year-old defenceman. Dermott missed the vast majority of the 2022–23 season with a concussion and is likely in line for a contract closer to the $775,000 NHL minimum salary. The Canucks just can’t afford to pay him $1.75 million next season.
Hirose and Höglander are no-brainers to be qualified. It’s almost a guarantee Focht won’t be, particularly after he split the 2022–23 season between a pair of ECHL teams. The 2019 fifth-round pick will likely have to settle for an AHL deal somewhere else.
That leaves Bear, who is in a precarious spot after suffering a shoulder injury at the World Championship. Bear is a good player and a valuable piece for a retooling Canucks team, but he could end up taking a cheaper “show me” deal with his status uncertain for the start of next season. At this point, a one-way, $2.2 million deal might be a tad bit rich.
The Canucks still have a couple weeks to sort all this out. There’s a decent chance they’ll agree to terms with one or two of their pending RFAs before they even reach the June 30 deadline.
Which of the Canucks’ six pending RFAs do you most want to see back with the team next season? Let us know in the comments!
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