Trading the 11th overall to dump cap is the worst thing the Canucks could do
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
We know that the 2023 NHL Entry Draft will begin on June 28, 2023.
We know that the Vancouver Canucks currently hold the 11th overall selection in that draft.
Beyond that, there’s a lot of uncertainty.
If you’ve noticed, we at CanucksArmy have been working our list down the potential scenarios that might occur with that draft pick, in about the descending order of preference.
There is, of course, the possibility that the Canucks just use the pick to draft the best player available. Or, perhaps, the best center or defender available.
There’s also a chance that the Canucks trade up even higher, into the top-ten of the draft.
Or that they trade down, acquiring multiple draft picks instead of just the one.
Given the team’s recent history, fans are naturally prepared for the possibility that the 11th is swapped out for some more immediate help on the roster, as undesirable as that might seem to most.
But the single worst outcome available is the one in which GM Patrik Allvin and Co. trade away the 11th overall pick in exchange for nothing more than a little additional cap space this summer.
Look, we all know that the Canucks need cap space. The extent is perhaps debateable and circumstantial, but the need exists one way or another.
Needing cap space, and needing cap space right now, however, are two different things, and one could certainly argue that the Canucks do not yet fall into the latter camp. One might even argue that, by swapping a key future asset for immediate financial manoeuverability, the Canucks would be sending the exact wrong message and moving in the exact wrong direction as a franchise.
It would be them back up to their old, worst tricks as a franchise.
In theory and in a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with the idea. The Canucks are the team with the most cap on the books for 2023/24 as of right now, and other teams have shown a willingness to take on excess salary in exchange for draft picks.
But this is the real world, not a theoretical vacuum, and in the real world the Canucks have already dealt away three first round picks and three second round picks over the past four seasons. That makes any given draft pick all the more valuable to the Canucks as an organization, particularly the 11th overall in what is supposed to be the strongest draft class for years.
We’ve already covered in a fair amount of detail how, so long as they’re patient, the Canucks should be able to wait out a majority of their current contract woes (especially if that rumoured $3-4 million extension on the salary cap winds up coming through.)
As of right now, they don’t need to make any drastic cuts to get in under the cap ceiling for 2023/24. Some shuffling and some key LTIR placements, sure, but nothing drastic. It’s only in the instance that they feel the need to add pieces to the roster right this second that the Canucks will find that they need cap space as soon as the summer of 2023. And if that’s how they’re feeling, it’s probably not great news for the fanbase.
No one is under any illusions that the Canucks could retool within the space of a season and get this team all the way back on the track to contention. But fans are all too familiar with recent attempts to swap out long-term assets for short-term gain, and all too painfully familiar with how poorly those attempts have gone.
Trading the 11th overall for cap space and then using that cap space on some veteran free agent or another in the 2023 offseason, still years ahead of true contention, wouldn’t just be par for the course. It would be a birdie or an albatross, the ultimate in a long string of short-sighted decisions that have resulted in a team with a barren prospect cupboard and little NHL success to show for it.
It would demonstrate clearly that the team does not have the patience to just wait for better opportunities that are inevitably going to come. We know that the cap is going to start going up in leaps and bounds, if not this offseason, then next. We know that’ll open up more spending room leaguewide. We know that certain undesirable contracts on the Canucks are ending soon, or at least marching closer to completion.
We know that, with time, the Canucks’ cap situation is naturally going to improve.
Making a move as drastic as trading the 11th overall pick to leapfrog that waiting process would send a clear message that the Canucks are not prepared to wait around in order to build, or even retool, into a contender. It’ll be another clear message that they’re cutting corners and taking shortcuts, and we all know how that goes.
If the Canucks don’t have the patience to wait this financial quagmire out, they don’t have the patience to build a winner. Period.
Besides, it’s tough to find a potential cap dump that works, value-wise, even in that theoretical vacuum. The only contract that might really be worth the 11OA to dump is Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s, and at this point we’d argue that it might actually cost more than the 11OA to ditch him. And where would that leave the Canucks?
Contrast that with the possibility of just playing out another year with OEL and then buying him out in the summer of 2024, resulting in a fairly manageable set of cap penalties for only six years thereafter, and it’s not hard to see why patience is preferable.
And the rest? One remaining year of Tyler Myers is not worth the 11th overall, not when Myers could be held on to and feasibly flipped at 50% retention for some sort of value. The same can obviously be said for Anthony Beauvillier, who could probably be flipped for a pick right now.
Conor Garland and Brock Boeser might be a different story, what with their longer contract lengths, but both are still productive wingers, and neither is a cap dump anywhere near the territory of the 11th overall pick. Their rebound potential alone makes trading a high pick to be rid of them a needless and risky endeavour.
Beyond that? The Canucks contracts are fine, and they’ll be fine and dandy in a year’s time.
Again, so long as the Canucks…can…just…wait.
Trading the 11th overall selection just to cut cap wouldn’t just be overpaying to solve a non-immediate problem in an immediate way. There’s a good chance that it wouldn’t even really solve that problem. Not in the long-term.
Everyone knows that, in the modern NHL, the only way to truly contend over an extended period of time is to have a fairly constant influx of young talent contributing to the roster on cheap, entry-level or secondary contracts. That’s just the way things work these days.
If the Canucks do somehow manage to find their way toward contention in the years to come, they’re still going to need cap space for the expensive contracts of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, JT Miller, Filip Hronek, Andrei Kuzmenko, and any other core pieces added between now and then. Surrounding those players will need to be some quality ELCs. If not, the Canucks will just find themselves in another cap crunch.
And how do they get their hands on those quality ELCs?
That’s easy. They draft them.
Ideally, as high as 11th overall.
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