This is major news for a cap-strapped team like the Vancouver Canucks, as the salary cap will drastically affect the organization’s ability to retain key pieces and add contributors.
It’s important to keep in mind that these numbers are all still projections. This rise in the salary cap would be due to a stronger-than-expected recovery from the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the league. Prior to the 2019-20 season, the salary cap had risen each year since after the 2012-13 NHL lockout.
With the contracts given to J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Brock Boeser, as well as the acquisition of players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland — not to mention the small legion of overpaid average players — the Canucks have made some large commitments.
When asked prior to this offseason about his goals, GM Patrik Allvin pointed to finding cap space as being among his biggest.
“It’s about creating cap space and also improving our team. We have some challenges ahead of us.” Since then, the Canucks have only added salary commitments, and in turn, appear to have improved their team.
You’ve heard it all before though, even from the Canucks’ new brass themselves at times:
The issue with the Canucks is that despite playing with minimal salary cap space, the team is far from a true contender. This makes it difficult to improve, but if the salary cap were to take this aggressive upwards trajectory, that would make life much easier for the Canucks.
2023-24 – Projected $83.5 million
UFA expiring contracts to note: Bo Horvat, Andrey Kuzmenko, Luke Schenn
RFA expiring contracts to note: Nils Höglander, Will Lockwood, Travis Dermott
Projected cap space: $12.77 million
Headed into next offseason, the salary cap is only projected to increase by $1 million. The Canucks don’t have a ton of huge deals to make but re-signing Bo Horvat, an extension that could be completed in the coming weeks, will take up a significant portion of the available money.
Horvat will likely see an increase in salary around $2 million per season. This would leave the Canucks with about $10 million to sign all the remaining players listed.
The big wildcard here is Andrey Kuzmenko. His next contract could take a huge range of possibilities. If he has a strong first half to the season, he may price himself out of the Canucks’ budget and be an attractive trade deadline piece.
Next season, the minimal cap increase gives the Canucks just enough money to re-sign their key free agents. However, adding a piece or getting significantly better will take some gymnastics from Patrik Allvin.
2024-25 – Projected $86.5 to $87.5 million
UFA expiring contracts to note: Tanner Pearson, Jason Dickinson, Dakota Joshua, Tyler Myers, Spencer Martin
RFA expiring contracts to note: Elias Pettersson, Vasily Podkolzin
Projected cap space: $34.45 million
This offseason is one to keep an eye on as it will be the summer that the Canucks need to re-sign Elias Pettersson. When on his game, Pettersson is among the truly elite talents in the league and his eye popping skill is bested only by his impressive impact in all areas of the ice. If he can have a consistent season where he puts it all together, this extension could get very expensive for the Canucks.
However, it’s another young player that may be more concerning to Canucks fans. Vasily Podkolzin burst onto the scene last year and had a very solid rookie season. If he continues to take steps in his development, he could become an expensive asset as well. While the Canucks are sure to make enough room to sign their prized possession in Pettersson, it’s often the high-end support players that become a salary cap casualty.
The remaining players are all depth pieces that shouldn’t be too hard for the Canucks to replace. Tyler Myers coming off the books will free up one of the significant long-term deals currently on the Canucks’ roster.
2025-26 – Projected $92 million
UFA expiring contracts to note: Brock Boeser, Curtis Lazar, Tucker Poolman,
RFA expiring contracts to note: N/A
Projected cap space: $44.69 million
This would mark a major increase in the salary cap all the way above the $90 million mark. The Canucks also do not have a ton of important players that need to be re-signed, although a lot will change in between now and this time.
Depending on how the extensions go in previous years for players like Pettersson, Podkolzin, Höglander, and Horvat, the 2025-26 offseason could look very different. In the best-case scenario, the Canucks enter this offseason with all of their core signed and now can use this salary cap jump to find winning pieces and add them to the roster.
This jump of $5-6 million dollars will mean that the Canucks can go and find a defenceman to add to the blueline. It will also make already signed contracts — most significantly the Oliver Ekman-Larsson deal — much easier to swallow.
An aggressive increase in the salary cap would be perfect for the Canucks with their current timeline. This would make it much easier for the team to get better and help them build a contender in the long run. If the actual increases fall well short of this projection, there will be fan favourites that end up playing in other sweaters around the league.