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Monday Mailbag: Spending $7,000,000 wisely, and why Dmitri Simashev is better than Axel Sandin Pellikka

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Faber
By Faber
11 months ago
That was a wild weekend, eh?
There are a lot of newly opened doors for the Vancouver Canucks to explore after news broke on Friday afternoon that the Canucks were going to buyout Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The team instantly gained some cap flexibility for the next four years but will pay for it with the final four years of OEL’s buyout hurting them on the cap.
In general, the move made sense. The Canucks want to be competitive next season and OEL’s contract situation was not going to help the cause. With Tanner Pearson and Tucker Poolman expected to be on long-term injury reserve to begin the season, the Canucks now head into the offseason with roughly $12,000,000 of cap space but will have to get contracts done for restricted free agents Nils Höglander and Ethan Bear.
The Canucks officially have wiggle room.
Buying out OEL was a bold move, but it’s not the most important roster construction move that the Canucks will make this offseason. The team now has a chance to get a long-term contract done with Elias Pettersson before the beginning of the 2023-24 season and they will also be judged on how effectively they use the newly acquired cap space.
For a while, it felt like the team was going to be suffocated by their salary cap situation, but the buyout gives them a bit of oxygen to work with as they attempt to complete their retooling and get this team back to a playoff competitor. The team has given themselves a pretty good window to strike with the $7,000,000 of cap relief this coming season after the buyout. We all now know that the team is going to do whatever they can to be competitive next season. That’s the direction that management has given to us with their roster moves.
We’re all on team playoffs now. Go take your seat.
After a busy Friday, our ask-for-questions tweet was jam-packed with replies. We will spend some time on the best few questions and then try to knock off a ton of the speed round questions.
So, without wasting any more words, let’s dive into the mailbag and see what the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter had to ask this week.
The most obvious answer is at third-line centre. That position is something that Patrik Allvin spoke about attempting to upgrade during his end-of-season media availability. With the added cap space, the Canucks now have options to trade for a centre that makes sense in that 3C spot, or they can spend a bit of money on one of the free agents that could make sense to play 3C next season.
J.T. Compher and Ryan O’Reilly are going to be options to play 3C, but they are both likely getting over $5,000,000 in annual salary on long-term deals (Compher will probably be longer than O’Reilly). This is the big move swing that the Canucks have given themselves a chance to take and as much as we’d like to see a patient approach, all their moves of late point towards spending on one of these types of players who fill a big hole in their lineup.
Jordan Staal is a cheaper option to keep an eye on. His cap hit is probably going to come in around $3,000,000-$3,500,000 and that’s on what will likely be a two-year contract. Staal scored 17 goals last season and is very effective in his own end.
The lower-tier third-line centres to watch are David Kampf and Nick Bjugstad. You can probably get these guys somewhere around $2,000,000 on a two-to-three-year deal.
I’d stay away from Compher and O’Reilly but can see the Canucks targeting Staal, Kampf, and Bjugstad. All three of them have playoff experience, kill penalties and bring solid defensive play at five-on-five to the third line.
As for defence, I’d take a serious look at left-shot defenceman Carson Soucy to play alongside Filip Hronek next season. He makes a lot of sense in terms of the type of defenceman that the Canucks are looking for and his contract likely won’t be too rich — I’d imagine he signs something like two or three years with an average annual value of $2,500,000-$3,250,000.
Scott Mayfield may be a three-year option for Quinn Hughes. Mayfield probably will come in on a multi-year deal with an AAV around $4,000,000. If the Canucks can get that number into the 3s, I’d listen.
The cap flexibility also creates some wiggle room for a winger trade. Whether if it’s Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Boeser, or Conor Garland — there are a lot more options to take money back or maybe look to move a winger for a defenceman who isn’t working out well with their current team. For that example, I’ll just throw in the St. Louis Blues as an example. Justin Faulk, Nick Leddy, Marco Scandella or Colton Parayko have all been rumoured in trades and the Canucks may be able to make something work with the Blues, who are looking for forward help.
I’d also make a call to Columbus about right-shot defenceman Andrew Peeke. The Blue Jackets have made a lot of moves of late, they also have prospects David Jiricek and Corson Ceulemans coming soon to play on the right side of their defence.
Lots of options!
Oh, we absolutely need to talk about this.
I get it. It’s the offseason and there’s a lot of wild ideas thrown out there.
This trade proposal from our sister site FlamesNation absolutely made me laugh.
Yeah, that’s a really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really hard no.
We won’t spend a ton of time on this, I just wanted to bring it into the mailbag.
This trade proposal sees more than enough draft picks, it also adds valuable even-strength scoring winger Conor Garland and 22-year-old Nils Höglander.
The 11th overall pick is probably enough to get Noah Hanifan in a trade. They could have stopped there.
Hanifan can play the right side and profiles as the right type of partner for Hughes. There may be something there to watch.
I’d be more than okay if the Canucks decided to pass on Axel Sandin Pellikka.
ASP is a 5’11”, offensive right-shot defenceman who looks very good against junior competition.
I didn’t love his play against men but maybe he will prove me wrong and be very good next season.
He is just not a great fit for the Canucks’ needs on defence and I don’t think he is one of the top-two defencemen in this draft. I’d rather have David Reinbacher or Dmitri Simashev be drafted at 11. You can make an argument for Tom Willander as well. I like that Willander is going to come to the NCAA next season — that’s a bold move and he will be challenged in the Hockey East next year.
Speed Round
Why didn’t you answer my question last week?
— CSWC Andy (@CswcAndy) June 18, 2023
I can’t remember why I didn’t answer it.
I’m guessing that Nikita Tryamkin isn’t coming over to North America for a player tryout. He will get a contract with someone and if he can’t make the NHL, he will run back to Russia.
You can do anything you set your heart, mind and soul into. GOOD LUCK!
Not to start the season. I’m curious to see how he looks in the AHL — if he is dominant, then he will become a full-time NHLer pretty quickly.
I’d bet that he plays in the NHL at some point next season. It’s all going to depend on what happens in the depth chart ahead of him.
I’d go with Bowen Byram because he would probably cost less and has a ton of upside. K’Andre Miller is very good but will likely also be very expensive.
Yep, they would be one hell of a skating pairing. Willander would need to build some muscle for sure to be able to be the tough guy on the pairing but the skating of that pairing could be deadly in two or three years.
Nearly Neil or bust.
Opening night, give me Jack Rathbone. I really want to say Akito Hirose but I don’t think he’s passed Rathbone on my personal depth chart through the organization just yet.
It’s so hard to remember some of the earlier episodes as we are coming up on five years this November. I’ll just say that my funniest moment from this season was definitely the “double cheeked-up with McDonald’s” joke when we were watching a Filip Johansson SHL goal.
That wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy. I hope you all have a great week, and thank you to the good folks who sent in questions this week.
We are just over a week away from the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, get excited!

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