Photo credit:© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Kings just showed the Canucks the cost of dumping salary and it’s not cheap
By Noah Strang8 months ago
It’s no secret that the Vancouver Canucks are in a tough spot with the salary cap. They have the least available cap space of any NHL team yet still have to make significant upgrades to the roster to be considered a contender. The success of the Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes Canucks era is going to come down to how management manages the financial aspect of the sport.
For that reason, it’s no surprise that the Canucks have reportedly been actively calling around the league looking for a trading partner. They need to shed salary and would be very pleased to get rid of any one of the many expensive middle-six wingers on the roster at the moment.
However, another recent NHL trade that just went down should be cause for concern for Vancouver. The Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Philadelphia Flyers made a three-team deal that was relatively complex for NHL standards. The team to focus on in this exchange for the Canucks is the divisional rival Kings.
When the dust settled, the Kings traded away goalie Cal Petersen, defencemen Sean Walker and Helge Grans, and a 2024 second-round pick for two depth pieces in Kevin Connauton and Hayden Hodgson. Neither Connauton nor Hodgson are expected to be NHL regulars for the Kings next season.
The Kings managed to move off Petersen and his $5 million cap hit but at quite a cost. Walker is a solid NHL player and Grans is good, although not great, defence prospect. They also had to add a high draft pick, all just to free up $5 million in cap space.
This should scare the Canucks who are trying to make a similar deal and free up some cap room. The price of money around the NHL these days is expensive and that doesn’t bode well for a team that is so clearly in desperation mode when it comes to the salary cap, further reducing any leverage they might have.
Why the Canucks might do better than the Kings
The Kings deal is a good example for the Canucks to follow as they have a few players in that ~$5 million range, most notably Conor Garland who has had his name come up in trade talks quite often recently. While the cost that the Kings paid is expensive — an NHL player, a prospect, and a second round pick to clear $5 million — there are a few reasons to think that the Canucks could do better.
To start, Petersen is a complete zero as an asset. The Kings had him buried in the minors to get a bit of cap relief. He is not an NHL starter and it’s debatable as to if he could even be an adequate backup. In 10 games for the Kings last season, he had a 3.75 GAA and a save percentage of .868.
The Petersen trade is a pure cap dump. The Flyers are not expecting to get any value from the player. While goalies are somewhat voodoo and Petersen might magically bounce back in Philadelphia, overall we can look at the Kings price as that of giving up $5 million for a zero asset.
On the other hand, the players that the Canucks would be looking to offload would still have value. Garland is still a very good middle-six forward that does some very important things on the ice. He’s a great 5-on-5 scorer and a strong play driver no matter what line he’s on. This means that dumping his $4.95 would come significantly cheaper than what the Kings paid for Petersen as Garland is still a capable player.
Why dumping cap space will likely still be too costly for the Canucks
Even if the Canucks don’t pay as much as the Kings to move out some bad money, it’s still going to be a high sticker price. They’re not going to be able to move multiple millions without giving up a strong prospect — of which the Canucks have few— or a draft pick that falls in the first few rounds.
While the Kings might have a super solid group of defence prospects and lots of young talent that is pushing for NHL spots, the Canucks do not have that luxury. Thus, even if they pay a bit less overall, the effect on the team’s collection of future assets in prospects and picks will be similar.
In addition, the Canucks are not a playoff team while the Kings did make the postseason this year. The Canucks are not in a position to keep giving up future assets to make up for past mistakes. They already are low on high draft picks this year as they’re missing their second rounder and cannot afford to keep giving up futures in a mad scramble to fix bad contracts.
It’s time for the Canucks to swallow their medicine and wait it out. Continually giving up draft picks and prospects is not the way to build a team, especially in a cap environment where ELCs are so valuable. The Los Angeles Kings trade gave the Canucks a sneak peek at the potential cost and unless Allvin can pull off some magic, the price is likely too rich for the Canucks to make any major cap dumps this offseason.
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