Why Carson Soucy should be the Vancouver Canucks’ top free agent target this summer
By Noah Strang7 days ago
The Vancouver Canucks enter this offseason in an awkward position. They haven’t played a playoff game in front of a full building since 2014-15 yet are pushed right up against the salary cap ceiling. This leaves general manager Patrik Allvin the very difficult job of significantly improving the roster with little cap space or tradeable assets to do so with.
With some new reports that the salary cap could be increasing by $3-4 million next season surfacing, there is some tepid optimism that the Canucks might get a little bit of financial relief. Coupled with the possibility of a cap dump — either from the trade of a winger or a buyout of the Oliver Ekman-Larsson contract — and there is a chance that the Canucks have a few million in cap space to play with this summer.
While many fans will likely want to the team to stand pat or weaponize that cap space for draft picks, the Filip Hronek trade and the commitment to J.T. Miller have proven what direction management wants this team going. Making the playoffs next season is going to be a priority and if Allvin has $3-4 million to use, he’s going to take full advantage and attempt to upgrade the team for next season.
If this situation does materialize, there is one player in free agency that the Canucks should pursue above all. And that’s Carson Soucy, the 28-year-old defenceman that played for the Seattle Kraken this past season.
Soucy fits the exact mould of the type of player the Canucks need as a big, long, defensive defenceman. At 28 years old — although he turns 29 in July — he’s on the younger side for an unrestricted free agent and still has multiple good years of hockey ahead of him. For the Canucks, there is no better fit on the open market this summer and making a run at Soucy would be the best possible scenario.
What does Carson Soucy bring to the table?
Carson Soucy isn’t the biggest name free agent defenceman but he’s coming off an excellent season for the Kraken. The best qualities of his game are on the defensive side of the puck, where he was one of the most effective players on his team. When we take a look at his on-ice stats in 2022-23 compared to his Kraken teammates, Soucy was the best at suppressing shots and goals against at 5-on-5. In fact, the Kraken allowed 10% fewer goals against per sixty minutes on the ice compared to any other qualifying defenceman on their roster.
5-on-5 on-ice stats for Kraken defenceman with at least 750 minutes in 2022-23. (Natural Stat Trick)
The fact that the Kraken allowed significantly fewer goals and fewer shots with Soucy on the ice compared to his teammates is evidence of his strong defensive play. He does most of his best work at the blue line as he consistently grades out as one of the best defenders in the NHL at preventing zone entries where he uses his big frame to lay the lumber.
While Soucy did play mostly play on the third pairing for the Kraken and thus wasn’t tasked with many tough matchups, he helped solidify any line he was placed with. Two different Kraken defensive pairings with Soucy — one alongside Justin Schultz and one alongside Will Borgen — ranked in the top 40 league-wide across pairings with at least 450 5-on-5 minutes in goals against per sixty minutes.
Soucy also played decent minutes on the Kraken’s second penalty kill unit this past season. Once again, the numbers shine favourably on his time in that position as the Kraken allowed 1.56 fewer goals per sixty minutes on the penalty kill with Soucy on the ice compared to when he was off. In addition, the Kraken allowed 12.53 fewer shots per sixty penalty kill minutes when the big defenceman was on the ice.
How much will Soucy cost on the open market?
Soucy just finished the final year of a three-year extension he signed while he was a member of the Minnesota Wild organization. He finished the last two years of that contract in Seattle and is now likely to hit the open market. While there is a chance that he re-signs with the Kraken, he seems to be the odd man out in a crowded position group.
This means that Soucy will likely get the chance to hear some offers on the open market. His last contract carried an AAV of $2.75 million and while he had a good year, he’s not likely to get a massive raise on that number. In fact, the last contract he signed was for three years at that AAV and would likely be a good starting point for this year’s negotiations as well.
He played four years of college hockey which means that despite being in his late 20s, Soucy has played just 250 NHL games. He’s continued to improve over the last few years and has played his best hockey with the Kraken. With a three year deal, the Canucks would be buying Soucy’s age 29, 30, and 31 seasons. For around $2.75 million, the Canucks would be getting the latter part of what should be some of Soucy’s most productive years.
Final pitch for the Canucks to go after Carson Soucy
If the Canucks want to make a run for the playoffs, they’re going to need to acquire at least one more NHL-caliber defenceman. Soucy has proven to be a great defensive player and will not cost too much on the open market due to relatively pedestrian offensive numbers and the fact that he hasn’t yet been thrust into a large role.
That makes him a perfect fit for the Canucks who could use a 6’5″ defensive stalwart but don’t need another puck-mover on the backend. Additionally, the Canucks would utilize Soucy as a penalty killer and he would likely be the team’s second best left-handed defenceman, further taking some responsibility away from Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The Canucks don’t have the ability to make any splashy free agent acquisitions this offseason. To get significantly better, they’re going to need to knock it out of the park with the smaller moves that they can make. Spending the ~$2.5-3 million to bring in Soucy would be the smartest allocation of any potential cap space and help take this team closer management’s goal of being a legitimate playoff contender.
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