As Friday window looms, will the Canucks buyout any players?

Photo credit:© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
10 months ago
The NHL’s first buyout window of the offseason opens on Friday, June 16th. This means that teams can officially start the buyout process for bad contracts and earn themselves some extra cap space heading into the offseason.
Buyouts are one of the only tools available to NHL franchises to get out of bad contracts that they’ve already signed. However, it doesn’t remove all the pain, instead spreading it out over a longer time frame.
The Canucks have used buyouts in recent years to give themselves some breathing room against the cap. In 2021, the team bought out the contracts of goalie Braden Holtby and Jake Virtanen. Next year, the 2023-24 season, will be the first without those contracts on the books.
The first buyout window of the summer will open on June 16th and close on June 30th. With the most cap committed next season of any NHL team, the Canucks might turn to a buyout as a last-ditch effort to open up some space for free agency or trade purposes. Pushing cap commitments down the road would make it easier for Patrik Allvin to improve the team in the short term while pushing cap space down the road to a time when the ceiling will have hopefully been raised.
If the Canucks do decide to go forward with a buyout, there are a few different players on the roster that they could target. Here are the top options on the roster right now for a buyout, as well as if it would be worth it.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

The finances of an Oliver Ekman-Larsson buyout (PuckPedia).
The biggest name when it comes to a Canucks buyout is Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 31-year-old defenceman is costing the Canucks $7.26 million against the cap and providing replacement-level performance. Ekman-Larsson has clearly lost a step with his age and injuries and is not quick enough to be an effective top-four NHL defenceman anymore.
While there is some hope that Ekman-Larsson might be able to have a bounce-back season, and he is far from the worst player on the Canucks blueline, being able to save more than $7 million against the cap next season has to be an attractive option for management. However, the tradeoff is that the Canucks will be on the hook for  ~$2.5 million for four years after his contract would expire.
While the massive cap savings over the next two years are hard to turn down, the Canucks aren’t at a point where they can afford to tack on four more years to this contract, even if it would be at a heavy discount. Let Ekman-Larsson take another run at it and perhaps he can perform a bit better this upcoming season.

Tucker Poolman

Financial information for a Tucker Poolman buyout. (PuckPedia)
The Tucker Poolman contract was one of the most confusing of the Jim Benning era. The depth defenceman was handed a four-year contract and it has not turned out well. Two years into his Canucks career, he’s played just 43 games and has recorded four total points, though to be fair, he has struggled with injuries.
While Poolman’s injury issues may be severe enough that he just gets placed on LTIR and the Canucks recoup some cap savings that way, a buyout is another interesting option. He would cost just $500,000 against the team’s salary cap for the next two years before costing $1 million for another two additional years after that.
With the Canucks being so pressed against the cap ceiling, every dollar counts and $2 million in savings this year and next would be helpful in acquiring a third-line centre or another defenceman. While this is dependent on Poolman’s health situation, this buyout could make sense for the Canucks.

Conor Garland

The finances of a Conor Garland buyout. (PuckPedia)
One unusual option for a buyout on the Canucks would be Conor Garland. You would think that the Canucks would be able to find a trade partner for Garland before they had to resort to buying out his contract, but with so many wingers and no cap space, the Canucks have little leverage and might struggle to find a suitable deal.
The Canucks would get just over $4 million in savings for this year and next before getting $3.1 million in 2025-26. However, they’d be stuck with a cap hit of $1.89 million for the three years after that, ending in 2028-29.
Again, you would think that the Canucks would be able to find some value for Garland, but the buyout could be a last-ditch effort to clear some cap space while thinning the logjam at winger.

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