Jason Dickinson didn’t have the easiest of seasons last year. The forward put up a career-low in points with 11, at his worst going 12 games without recording a point and 20 games without a goal. Dickinson’s $2.65 million deal was looking worse by the moment.
But with the buyout window closing today and nothing happening, Dickinson looks to be sticking around for at least the following season.
It was the right call.
A Dickinson buyout was never too lucrative of an option. If the Canucks chose to go down that road, they would be incurring just under a million of a dead cap hit for the next four seasons. Sure, saving $1.7 million does sound nice on the outset, but it’s really only about 2% of the cap. Dickinson’s hit would also join the Holtby and Virtanen dead cap, putting the total at $4.1 million.
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The on-ice perspective also makes keeping Dickinson to be the better option. A checking centre like him shouldn’t have been cast in a top-6 role, but at times it was what happened, playing on a line with Miller and Garland. It didn’t lead to the prettiest of results, and the Canucks team defense also gave a worse impression of the impact Dickinson had.
Off the ice factors didn’t help much either. His first season saw him injured in the first month, then getting COVID during the Boudreau bump. Dickinson moved to Vancouver right before probably their worst-ever start to the season, setting the tone for him to never quite settle on in. It reflected in the consistency of his linemates too, never spending more than 11% of his total ice time with a single set of teammates.
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Finding defensively responsible players to fill out the bottom 6 is a tough task. With the moves the Canucks are making, Dickinson might just get another shot to help lead that unit. Juho Lammikko is not being qualified. Brad Richardson is most likely not resigning in Vancouver. Highmore, Di Giuseppe, Bailey, Petan, among others are also being let go to explore the free agent market.
And so, Vancouver is left with Dickinson.
Which really isn’t the worst option, honestly. Tweener depth was never meant to replace Dickinson, someone who was trusted in Dallas as the leader of the checking line. Given the opportunity to settle down, with a season under his belt, there’s a chance that he could bounce back. Dickinson recorded the worst shooting percentage of his career in 2021-22, and should really get better puck luck going forwards.
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It’s a case of why not give him another shot. With a new coaching staff, new developmental approach, an offseason to flush out the bottom 6 wings, Dickinson is positioned to have an improvement from last year. Anything would be at this point.
And if he works out, it frees up the Canucks’ potent top 6 to be able to match up against weaker opposition. A low-risk, high-reward situation appears to be the case here, where at worst Vancouver has similar results as last year, and at best sees Horvat not having to handle the Matthews and McDavids of the world.
Dickinson should get another opportunity to try and fill the role that he was brought in for. It’s why not buying him out was the right decision. Looking at the free agent market, there’s plenty of centres available at pretty heft costs. Dickinson at $2.65 million is much more palatable than Andrew Copp at a projected $5.5 million.
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So, fans shouldn’t be too torn up about Dickinson not getting moved out. The possibility of him settling in, finding his role, and freeing up his teammates is one that should absolutely be explored. Given an offseason to get familiar with Vancouver, hopefully Dickinson can bounce back and show that a buyout was never an option.