The Vancouver Canucks have been in the news a lot lately. Some of that has to do with talk of an extension for head coach Travis Green, some of that with the offseason moves they made and their struggles with the salary cap, and other discussion revolves around things they tried to do this offseason but couldn’t make work. Don’t expect the team to disappear from the front page anytime soon.
The reason is that, as Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal of The Athletic point out, the Canucks have some difficult times ahead when it comes to an extension for superstar forward Elias Pettersson. Pettersson is entering the final year of his entry-level contract and his salary is about to skyrocket. If the Canucks intend to keep any of the players they have whose contracts also expire next season, they’re going to have to juggle the cap in a major way. If their focus is building around Pettersson and letting expiring contracts leave, they’ll have to restock the shelves with little cap room to do so.
The young Canucks superstar will play out the final year of his entry-level contract during the 2020-21 league year, and thereafter will likely be exorbitantly expensive. His second contract is going to be complicated and is something of a cap management atom bomb that the club will have to work around in seeking to upgrade their supporting cast.
What is the Game Plan for the Canucks?
There are two strategies the Canucks can employ when it comes to Pettersson’s extension. Either let expiring contracts expire, or by trying to shed salary through trade.
In the first scenario, the contracts of players like Alex Edler, Jordie Benn, Brandon Sutter, and Tanner Pearson will simply come off the books. That will free up $16.125 million. Pettersson is like to take up around $10 of that $16 and change so the trick will be to fill the holes and add other roster members for a total of less than $6 million. That then means being crafty and astute in free agency; not exactly been the Canucks strong suit.
The other play is to try and shed salary, signing some of these expiring contracts to discounted deals. Edler’s number will drop, as will Benn’s and Sutter’s. But, keeping those players, even at reduced salaries means shedding other contracts.
So far, moving Loui Eriksson has been near impossible to do. Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle aren’t likely going anywhere either. But, could the Canucks try to move a player like Brock Boeser? It’s not ideal, but there will likely be interested teams if he were to become available.
Canucks and Pettersson Aren’t Talking Extension Yet
All of this potentially comes before the Canucks and Pettersson’s side can get down to really talking about the details of a new extension. It’s going to be fairly obvious what the player will make, even in a down NHL market. As such, it’s not surprising to hear the two sides aren’t really talking a deal yet.
Early speculation is that the Canucks and Pettersson’s representatives have kept in touch. That’s about the extent of it though.
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