Navigating the Salary Cap is probably one of the more important tasks for any general manager to have. Teams that can avert total cap chaos by walking the tightrope of inking players to deals that match their value (or compensate for future value without breaking the bank) remain successful. Those that don’t see struggles and front office changes.
PHR will look at every NHL team and give a thorough look at their cap situation heading into the 2017-18 season. This will focus more on those players who are integral parts of the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL. All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.
Current Cap Hit: $73,012,499 (under the $75MM Upper Limit)
Boeser is one of the Canucks hope for the future. The team’s 2015 first-round pick has been playing exceptionally well in camp and looks ready to take a major role on the team. After two years at the University of North Dakota, Boeser managed to play in nine games for Vancouver last year, putting up four goals and an assist in that span and averaged 2.78 shots per game as well. Virtanen, on the other hand is just trying to cement a starting role on the team. The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Virtanen has been disappointing and has had trouble finding a role with the club, playing 55 games two years ago and then settling for just 10 games last year. A solid camp so far suggests, he might have turned it around as he looks to take his game to the next level.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
F Daniel Sedin ($7MM, UFA)
F Henrik Sedin ($7MM, UFA)
D Erik Gudbranson ($3.5MM, UFA)
F Thomas Vanek ($2MM, UFA)
F Sven Baertschi ($1.85MM, RFA)
D Troy Stecher ($925K, RFA)
F Markus Granlund ($900K, RFA)
F Alexander Burmistrov ($900K, RFA)
F Anton Rodin ($700K, UFA)
F Reid Boucher ($688K, RFA)
D Patrick Wiercioch ($625K, UFA)
On a positive note, there are many contracts that are set to expire next year, which could give the Canucks quite a bit of cap space. What the team will do with the Sedin brothers, long-time franchise players, is still up in the air. Rumors that they have no interest in going to a contender to finish out their careers suggest that they may choose to retire or sign up for a much shorter, much cheaper deal with Vancouver. While both have been leading the franchise, their numbers have begun to decline now that they are 36 years old with Daniel Sedin putting up just 15 goals and 44 points a year ago, while brother Henrik also just putting up 15 goals and 51 points.
There are very few potential unrestricted free agents that are critical to the team’s building of the future. While Gudbranson is just 25 years old, the team has shown a willingness to move on from the defenseman and has been talked about in trade rumors all offseason. The former third-overall pick in 2010 didn’t fare well in his first year in Vancouver, suffering a wrist injury and playing in only 30 games. The team may want to move on before they lose him. Vanek, signed late in the offseason, is also likely a trade chip at the trade deadline.
As for restricted free agents, the team still has high hopes that Baertschi will continue to improve. After struggling to break into the Calgary Flames starting unit, Vancouver picked him up and got 15 goals in 2015-16 and another 18 last year. The 24-year-old could easily wind up on the team’s second line and have a big year. Granlund, 24, is another youngster who stepped up a year ago, putting up 19 goals as a full-time starter. Stecher will also be a free agent. The 23-year-old undrafted free agent had a solid rookie season after coming to the Canucks from the University of North Dakota. He is penciled in as a first-line defender. The team also has high hopes they can turn around Burmistrov’s career. The former top-10 pick in 2010 was signed away from Arizona with the hopes he can fill a need in the bottom six.
Two Years Remaining
Edler has been a solid defender and a franchise player, having played his entire career in Vancouver. He is still effective, but his offense has slowed down over the last few years as he has had 22 or less points in four of his last five years. The team will have to decide whether to keep the 31-year-old blueliner when his contract is up, but that will likely have more to do with how he plays over the next two years. As for Del Zotto, the team signed him away from Philadelphia this offseason to fill a hole in the defense. Whether or not he can stay healthy is another matter. Hutton continues to develop his offensive game, but has time to do that.
Nilsson was also signed this offseason to challenge for playing time in goal. The 27-year-old was a solid backup in Buffalo, but is hoping for more playing time in Vancouver. As for Gaunce, the 23-year-old has yet to establish himself. He played in 55 games last year, but no goals and five assists will not cut it.
Three Years Remaining
Tanev, a stay-at-home defenseman is a solid presence on a weak defense. The 27-year-old has established himself as a great defensive player and is well worth the money he is getting. Markstrom must prove he can handle being a starter. He only played 27 games as a backup, but must now prove he can hold off Nilsson and show he can be a starter in this league. If not, then he is just an expensive backup. Gagner came over from Columbus where he had a solid season, including 18 goals and 50 points.
Four Or More Years Remaining
The team is in good shape in that it has few bad contracts that it must deal with on the long-term. However, the team did hand Eriksson a six-year, $36MM deal a year ago as he was coming off a 30-goal season with the Boston Bruins. However, the deal doesn’t look as good after the 32-year-old put up 11 goals in 65 games one year later and the team still owes him quite a bit of money. Horvat, however, is one of the new wave of young stars for Vancouver as the 22-year-old put up a 20-goal, 52 points season a year ago. The team hopes an even bigger breakout may be coming in his third year. Sutter is another one who the team hopes can become more consistent. The 28-year-old wing had 17 goals and 17 assists last year, but injuries have kept him in and out of the lineup, depending on the year.
F Chris Higgins ($833K in 2017-18)
Retained Salary Transactions
Still To Sign
Best Value: Tanev
Worst Value: Eriksson
The Canucks are in a position to build a solid roster after this season. The team should be able to make a big free-agent splash if it wants and begin to build a winner. What this teams seems to lack is young talent, especially on offense. Horvat and Boeser should be great and there are a few others, but the team seems to lack those top young players who will turn the franchise around. That’s because several of their first-rounds like Gaunce, Virtanen haven’t panned out yet, which leaves a gaping hole of talent on the roster. Nevertheless, the team did a solid job bringing in solid role players for reasonable and short deals, which should only make them stronger.