In what ways and of what teams could the Canucks take advantage with their $7.5+ million in deadline cap space?

Photo credit:© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
Just before the weekend hit, the Vancouver Canucks placed Tanner Pearson on Long-Term Injured Reserve for the remainder of the 2022/23 season.
That Pearson wouldn’t be returning this year is not exactly news. That was made clear more than a month ago with the revelation that the attempt to fix Pearson’s initial hand injury, suffered way back in November, was unsuccessful, and that he’d need one or more additional surgeries.
The only real change in Pearson’s status is that he’s been moved from Injured Reserve — which opens up a roster space but offers no salary relief — to LTIR, where his cap hit now becomes effective extra cap space for as long as he remains there.
Prior to this, the Canucks already had Micheal Ferland, Tucker Poolman, and Ilya Mikheyev on LTIR, granting them a cumulative $10.75 million in maximum salary relief. So, if Pearson was also known to be out for the season, why didn’t he join them? The simple answer is that the team didn’t need any additional salary relief, so it had no real reason to put him on LTIR until they needed that extra space. Injured players, remember, can be placed on LTIR at any time, retroactive to when they first exited the lineup.
So, what does it mean that the Canucks have now decided to shift Pearson to LTIR, granting them up to $7.62 million in deadline cap space (as of this writing)?
The simple answer is that they now need, or expect to soon need, that additional spending room. And that likely means that the Canucks are about to attempt to take advantage of their situation, and perhaps one or more desperate teams in the process.
Here’s how they could take advantage, and who they could take advantage of, with all that (temporary) bonus cap space.

Option #1: Helping to retain on any big-ticket rentals

We just saw something like this go down in the trade that brought Ryan O’Reilly to Toronto. The St. Louis Blues retained the full 50% of O’Reilly’s contract that they were allowed, and then he made a pitstop in Minnesota along the way to get another 25% chopped off his cap hit.
In the end, the Wild took on a pro-rated $1.875 million in cap hit for the rest of the season and about $75K in actual salary. For their trouble, they were compensated with Toronto’s fourth round pick in 2025.
Ideally, if the Canucks become the cream filling of a salary retention Oreo, they’d love to walk away with more than a fourth rounder. With the market price more or less set, that probably means they’ll have to retain as much, if not more, than the Wild did. That means getting involved in — and saving their two remaining retention slots for — the truly big-ticket rentals left on the market.
That means the rentals with an AAV over and above $6 million. They are:
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Expiring AAV: $10.5 million
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Expiring AAV: $10.5 million
If the Canucks could get over the weirdness of having Kane and/or Toews be a part of their organization, if only for a millisecond, these two contracts represent the best chance to retain a bunch of salary as part of a three-way trade at the deadline and thus be compensated with a bunch of future capital.
John Klingberg, Anaheim Ducks
Expiring AAV: $7 million
The market for Klingberg should be suppressed after a bad run in Anaheim, but that also means that any team acquiring him will want him to come as cheap as possible. This would be more retention that was involved in the O’Reilly trade.
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers
Expiring AAV: $7 million
JVR has flown under the radar as a rental this season, but someone will surely take a Flyer on him at some point. As of right now, he looks overpaid, but at 25%, he will not.
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
Expiring AAV: $6.375 million
The Canadiens were gifted a first round pick for taking on Monahan’s contract this year. They could now end up with a few additional draft picks by trading him as a rental, and that value would definitely be enhanced if Monahan could be reduced down to a more reasonable price for a 3/4C.
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
Expiring AAV: $6.1 million
GM Steve Yzerman has yet to give much indication as to what he’s going to do with captain Dylan Larkin. If he does go down the trade route, Larkin becomes the top rental on the market, and will have a bevy of suitors. Retention could be key in getting a deal done.
Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks
Expiring AAV: $6 million (RFA)
Meier is  a bit of a unique case. He expires as an RFA, but then requires a nasty $10 million qualifying offer to prevent his hitting the free market. But either way, there’s potential for the Canucks to retain on the remaining year of his contract if he’s moved. They’d only be on the hook for whatever portion of this year’s cap hit they agreed to, and nothing beyond that.
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild
Expiring AAV: $6 million
The Wild seem more likely to move Dumba than to re-sign him, although there’s always the possibility that they keep him around as an “own-rental.” If not, expect him to have pursuers, and expect him to look a lot more attractive at a discount.

Option #2: Taking on expiring cap dumps for the remainder of the season

The more straightforward way to take advantage of that $7.5+ million in deadline cap space is to accept expiring cap dumps. For this, the target market is quite specific — teams with playoff hopes who want to make additions to their roster, but don’t have enough cap space — but that doesn’t mean it’s limited.
There are a bushel of teams out there that might fall into this category, and most of them have potential dumps on hand.
Calgary Flames
Deadline Cap Space: $4.44 million
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Milan Lucic ($5.25 million)
The biggest cap dump available is also the most awkward. Convincing Lucic to waive his no-trade to return to his hometown might be tough, as might be convincing him to leave Calgary in general. But the Flames are struggling to even make the playoffs right now, and they could be on the verge of big changes. There are certainly better ways to spend that $5.25 million, and the Flames might need to pay handsomely to open up their flexibility. 
Dallas Stars
Deadline Cap Space: $1.65 million
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Anton Khudobin ($3.33 million)
Khudobin has been buried in the minors all season long, but still incurs a decent cap hit even when demoted. The Stars will be looking for a deadline addition or two, and would love to convert that cap hit into cap space instead. From the Canucks perspective, giving Khudobin a spin in their crease wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. This could be a win-win.
Edmonton Oilers
Deadline Cap Space: $563K
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Jesse Puljujarvi ($3 million, RFA)
Puljujarvi is an interesting case. On the one hand, any team acquiring him could take him as an expiring cap dump and just not make a qualifying offer at the end of the season. On the other hand, he’s still brimming with potential. The Canucks could trade for him and then audition him for the rest of the year before deciding which route to take.
Los Angeles Kings
Deadline Cap Space: $3.5 million
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Brendan Lemieux ($1.35 million), Jonathan Quick ($5.8 million)
We know that the Kings are interested in adding names as big as Jakob Chychrun to their roster, and while they do have a little cap space, they might need a little more. Unfortunately, they don’t have many obvious dumps beyond Lemieux, who makes less than double the league minimum. Still, if they need that extra wiggle room, dumping Lemieux might be part of the plan — just don’t expect much compensation back. Jonathan Quick is also an option, but it’s likely that the Kings want to keep him around as a backup option to Pheonix Copley. 
New Jersey Devils
Deadline Cap Space: $2.94 million
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Andreas Johnsson ($3.4 million)
The Devils have been on the hunt for additional forward help all season long, and they’re known to be in on names as big as Timo Meier. That will probably require additional spending room, and there’s no better way to get it than to dump Johnsson, who has already long since been demoted to the minors.
Pittsburgh Penguins
Deadline Cap Space: $450K
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Brian Dumoulin ($4.1 million), Teddy Blueger ($2.2 million)
Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin could definitely help out their old pals in Pittsburgh. Dumoulin no longer holds a place of prominence on the Penguins blueline that matches his salary, and Blueger is making an awful lot for a fourth liner. Dumping either of them and picking up some more talented players would go a long way toward aiding Pittsburgh’s contender status.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Deadline Cap Space: $720K
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Philippe Myers ($2.25 million), Vlad Namestnikov ($2.5 million)
Why is Namestnikov and his 12 points the seventh-highest paid forward on the Lightning? We’re not sure, but we are sure that Tampa Bay would probably prefer that not be the case. Philippe Myers, on the other hand, represents a unique opportunity. He’s not truly an expiring player, but his cap hit drops down to just $1.4 million next season, which is mostly buriable. The Canucks could try out the big RHD for the rest of this season and then decide whether or not to demote him next year. 
Vegas Golden Knights
Deadline Cap Space: $4K
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Laurent Brossoit ($2.33 million), Adin Hill ($2.18 million)
That’s not a typo, the Knights really are down to four-figure cap space. They can easily get a whole lot more if they place Mark Stone on LTIR. Or, alternatively, they could decide which of Hill or Brossoit they want to backup Logan Thompson, and pay to dump the other one. Whichever one the Canucks trade for would get an immediate chance in the Vancouver crease. 
Washington Capitals
Deadline Cap Space: $2.66 million
Potential Expiring Cap Dumps:
Lars Eller ($3.5 million)
Eller has long been considered an important part of Washington’s team. But his play has aged of late, the Capitals have a lot of other centers on hand, and he could very well be dumped in favour of more offensive talent. This is one dump in particular that could then be retained on and flipped for a profit.

Option #3: Retaining on own players to increase trade value

We wrote about this topic in the recent past, so we won’t get too into it here. But suffice it to say that the Canucks don’t need to be at the center of a three-way trade to make good use of their cap space and remaining retention slots.
Unfortunately, there are precious few opportunities for the Canucks to retain on any salaries that don’t go beyond this season. Players like Brock Boeser, Tyler Myers, and Conor Garland are signed for additional seasons, and players like Luke Schenn don’t really need retention.
Maybe Travis Dermott and his $1.5 million could be halved? Or perhaps JT Miller is moved before his extension kicks in and the Canucks retain on the final year of his $5.25 million for this season.
It’s far more likely, however, that if the Canucks retain on one of their own, it will mean a commitment beyond this season, and thus not be relevant to their current LTIR space. If anything, the LTIR relief just helps them have room to both take back salary and retain salary in the same transaction.

Option #4: Taking on longer contracts and then clearing space for them in the offseason

Of course, the Canucks could also use their temporary LTIR relief to take on some cap dumps that don’t expire this offseason, and then worry about clearing out that space in the summer. Doing this should probably yield greater compensation that taking on expiring cap dumps.
But, to be completely honest, that’s a whole ‘nother article.

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