What might it take for the Canucks to re-sign Dakota Joshua? Should they?

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
21 days ago
The series switches from the defensive position onto the forward core. And there’s no Vancouver Canucks pending free agent forward more talked about than Dakota Joshua. 
When Joshua got hurt after a fight with MacKenzie Entwistle, Canucks fans couldn’t imagine the level of impact his absence would have on the team. At the time of the injury, the Canucks were first in the league. By the time Joshua returned, they had dropped to fifth in the league standings and had a record of 9-7-2. 
Since his return, he has two goals in four games, both coming against the Anaheim Ducks. One was a highlight reel in-between-the-legs goal on the powerplay at the net front. His other goal turned out to be the game-winner with under three minutes remaining.
Now that he’s back, the rumours are swirling about what his next contract may look like. 
Chek TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reported, “If the Canucks thought they were going to get Joshua in the two’s, it’s not going to happen. Joshua has given his agent a ton of ammunition for contract talks. He will get over three million on July 1st.”
While it’s always nice to have the trusty Rick Dhaliwal’s insight on contracts, let’s see if Joshua has been a fit for the Canucks and see if his comparables match this projected number. 

How is Dakota Joshua a fit for the Canucks?

Dakota Joshua signed a two-year, $825k contract with the Canucks on July 13th, 2022. In his first season with the team, he played 79 games with 11 goals and 12 assists. Joshua would spend most of his time playing on the fourth line with Nils Åman and Jack Studnicka. However, he did spend some time as Conor Garland last year but did not show the same chemistry this duo has proven to have this season.
This season, Joshua has already set career highs in goals (15), assists (13) and points (28), with six games remaining to try and hit the 30-point mark. He also is setting career highs in all important analytics:
  • Expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 55.85%.
  • Scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) of 53.62%.
  • High-danger scoring chances for percentage (HDCF%) of 58.68%.
Joshua has been one-third of one of the league’s best third lines this season. The Dakota Joshua-Teddy Blueger-Conor Garland line is not only an impressive third line, but they rank among the top five in xGF% among lines across the league that have played 300+ minutes together.
To rank ahead of lines that consist of the league’s most elite talent, such as Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews and Nikita Kucherov, truly shows how effective they’ve been together. 
Here’s a clip showing the impressive chemistry between these three that leads to a go-ahead goal against the Dallas Stars.
In terms of the Canucks lines, here is where they rank among all lines this season that has played 100+ minutes together. 
*All stats are at 5-on-5.
Outside of the Pius Suter-J.T. Miller-Brock Boeser line, they have the best analytics while playing 143 minutes of time on ice more than the following line. They also have the highest goal differential, with a +11 at 5-on-5. 
They have been relied on as the teams go to shut down line, as they’ve got the highest percentage of defensive zone starts of the lines over 100 minutes together, with 56.69%. 
Joshua hasn’t been much of a factor on the powerplay this season, only playing 17 minutes in his 56 games for an average of 17 seconds per game. However, he has been a crucial part of the other side of special teams – the penalty kill. 
With 1:50 minutes of average time shorthanded, he ranks third among current Canucks forward, second excluding Lindholm, who joined the team halfway through the season. 
After a pre-season scuffle between Joshua and Garland, they’ve built some beautiful chemistry together. The way they cycle the puck and use the boards to their advantage is unmatched on this Canucks team. 
Here is a clip where Garland draws both defenders to him, leaving Joshua all alone in front of the net. The connection they have for Garland to know where he’s going to be before he makes this no-look pass for another go-ahead goal. 
With data provided by Natural Stat Trick, we can see the splits these two have when playing together compared to when playing away from each other. 
These two have far better stats when playing with each other than away from each other – further proving that this duo is not something that the Canucks can afford to lose this offseason. 
Now that we’ve established that Joshua has been a great fit with Vancouver and a running mate to Garland, how much will he command on the open market? 

How Much Will Joshua Cost?

It’s clear and obvious that Joshua is going to see a substantial raise from his current $825k contract he’s on now – but how much should this Canucks team be willing to go?
As mentioned earlier, Dhaliwal reported that Joshua has priced himself into the $3M range with his recent play. He later added that Joshua’s agent hadn’t contacted him in over 24 hours. Does this mean they are deep in contract negotiations? Or does this mean they’re ready to move on?
Anywho, if the asking price is in the $3M range, the Canucks should be able to make that work considering they have $30.75M in available cap space for next season. 
But first, let’s find out what price range he should be in based on the comparables around the league. 
Joshua is a physical player who isn’t afraid to use his 6-foot-3, 206-pound frame. He has shown offensive upside while also being a first-over-the-board penalty killer. So, are there any other players out there like him?
A clear indicator of a player’s value is to look at their individual numbers and compare them to what other forwards of their stature are making.
I’ve analyzed and compared Joshua’s stats and analytics this season to nine others that fit similar physicality traits, point totals, and penalty kill deployment to help gauge what his upcoming contract should look like.
*Players are ranked based on their average annual salary. All stats are at 5-on-5. 
Let’s first look at the analytics thus far this season. Joshua ranks in the top three in xGF%, in the middle of the pack in SCF% and is second in this group in HDCF% — which is an excellent representation of how good Joshua has been analytically this season.
Physicality-wise, Joshua just trails Tanner Jeannot in hits/60. These two have a massive lead on the rest of the group regarding hits/60. If we compare that to the entire league, Joshua ranks eighth in hits/60 of all players to play at least 500+ minutes.
Joshua is tied for fourth with Adam Lowry in points of this group (24). He also is one of the five players who are mainstays on their teams’ penalty kill, averaging over 1:30 minutes of shorthanded ice time. 
There really aren’t many players across the league who match Joshua’s physicality, offensive ability, and defensive game. 
I landed on Tanner Jeannot and Adam Lowry as the best comparables to Joshua. 
Tanner Jeannot is the one who matches Joshua’s physicality the best. They share similar hit rates per 60, but Joshua tops Jeannot in all other statistical categories, outscoring him by 13 5-on-5 points, all three analytical percentages, and he kills penalties. With Jeannot making $1.7M per season based solely on his physical game, Joshua guarantees himself more money annually.
Adam Lowry might be the best comparable on this list, as they are equal in points and kill penalties. Analytically, Lowry edges out Joshua in each category, but Joshua out-hits Lowry by a substantial margin. 
Lowry signed his contract in April 2021, during the flat cap era. Now, he may have gotten a slight bump back then to his average annual value (AAV) due to his premier centre position – but I wouldn’t be opposed if this were around the ballpark of what Joshua’s next extension may look like. 
Last season, we saw a member of the comparables, Ross Colton (4x$4M) and Tanner Jeannot (2x$2.67M), sign their deals to help gauge the current market for this player prototype. I would expect Joshua to be someone in between these two players. 
Now, I don’t think Joshua will come close to as high as Colton is making annually. Colton is more offensive and, coming off successful playoff seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, deserved a raise. Jeannot meets Joshua’s physical stature but lacks points-wise and analytically. Thus, Joshua should land between these two players. 
So, now that all of the facts have been laid out about Joshua’s physicality and importance to the both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice, would you feel comfortable paying him between $2.67M-$3.5M?
You tell me Canucks fans!

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