WWYDW: Who was the Vancouver Canucks’ least replaceable player in 2023/24?

Photo credit:© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
19 days ago
Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet able to reference former Canucks’ goaltenders at a moment’s notice.
Speaking of Weekes, we’re now down to just two of them in the 2023/24 regular season. Actually, by the time you’re reading these words, it’s more like Barenaked Ladies style: one week.
And by the time your contributions to this call-and-response column are published next week, it will be a mere matter of days.
This is it, people. The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs are nigh, and soon they’ll be upon us.
But before that, we’ve got a very narrow window through which to look back fondly on what has already proven to be a regular season to remember. If you’ve missed out last couple editions, then first and foremost, shame on you. With that out of the way, you may be interested to know that we’ve been working our way through an impromptu series of alternate Canuck team awards.
We’re all familiar with the usual awards for MVP, top defender, most exciting, and unsung hero. But one can never have too many awards on offer, and we’ve had some ideas kicking around for more, and we’ve got the perfect clientele to vote on them. (That’s you.)
Spinning off the Most Valuable Player award, we present to you today: The Least Replaceable Player Award.
Think those two things are basically the same thing? Not quite. The MVP award goes to the player deemed most valuable to their team, obviously, and almost always roughly translates into a “Best Player” award.
The Least Replaceable Player Award, however, is a different measure. In soliciting your votes for this one, we’re asking you to think about the player that it would most cost the Canucks to lose. Who could they least do without?
That player may end up being the same one that you vote for MVP. But then again, it might not.
Either way, that’s what we’re asking this week:

Who was the Canucks’ LEAST replaceable player in 2023/24?

Let it be known in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:

Which Canuck delivered the most “bang-for-buck” value, compared to their cap hit, for the 2023/24 season?

You answered below!
Joshua leads the cost-per-point ratio over Höglander in second. But, Höglander is leading the way in cost-per-goal, and those are more valuable. I go with Höglander.
Pettersson gotta be up there with close to 100 pts on his current cap hit, nyet?
Noah Juulsen.
bruce donice:
The Canucks would not be where they are without Quinn Hughes. By far he has given almost twice as much as he is getting paid. EP would come cheap compared to what QH could get this summer as a UFA.
Good thing this year is that there are quite a few good choices as listed in the comments above. My choice would be Höglander. He’s tied with Miller for the most even-strength goals and in the same range as players like Rantanen, Connor, Kaprizov…
No question Hughes is the MVP, but as far as bang-for-the-buck? Ya, still Hughes. he has carried this team on his back, raised his game to a new level, and been consistent all year.
Sure, he gets paid well, but in all honesty, he probably is still one of the better bargains in the league. Watching him play, and case in point the winning goal by Garland against the Coyotes, one would think Hughes is a defenseman version of McDavid or MacKinnon the way his speed and flashy edgework can make defenders back up and give him space.
Getting to the financial value of the argument, Hughes gets paid $7.8 million per year right now. His play is warranting that a fair value for what he brings should be at or near the league maximum, which would be around a $5 million per year increase.
There is no other single player on this team that is playing at a level worth more than $5 million of their current salary, so there is no sense digging through the weeds to find anyone else here.
Every year this guy has played way above his cap hit, and this year is no different. That player is JT Miller. Five years now and the guy has given us $12-15 million in surplus value.
Gotta go with JT. The phrase of a player giving 110% is greatly overused, but that’s what JT has done this year.
Matt Pisko:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
While some will make a case for players like Höglander (23G 11A) and Joshua (16G 13A) significantly outperforming their $1.1M and $825K contracts, I think the lens has to shift elsewhere.
Despite what an unnamed NHL executive would have you believe, the best overall defenseman and my choice for best value for money has to be #43 – Quinn Hughes.
By every metric, he has had an exceptional year (16G 70A), delivering superstar level goals above replacement value (21.9 all situations and 14.9 at 5v5) on what is a bargain contract at $7.85M per season.
Stephan Roget:
The folks voting for Quinn Hughes have it right.
What’s the maximum value delivered by Nils Höglander this year? Four times his $1.1 million cap hit? Probably. Five times? Maybe! Six times? It’s possible.
The same goes just as easily for Dakota Joshua.
But you could times Höglander or Joshua’s by ten, and you still wouldn’t reach the value provided by Hughes on a nightly basis.
Few, if any, players in the world brought as much value for their team than Hughes in 2023/24. In a season with a non-out-of-control scoring race, he’d be a strong Hart candidate.
The maximum value for an NHL player is $16.5 million. Hughes is delivering maximum on-ice value. And yet his cap hit is $7.85 million, which is less than half of that.
That’s why this one goes to Hughes, hands down.
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