The Near Future of the Canucks Cap: Defenceman

Ryan Biech over at Canucks Army wrote a great piece about how the Canucks should probably get on resigning Bo Horvat, and I agree 100%. However, this got me thinking about the other players who would need new contracts in there near future. So I headed on over to Cap Friendly, and it looks a little tight in the near future.

While resigning Bo is very needed, especially right now, I will leave it up to Mr. Biech to explain to you why that is. If he continues to score, his price will only go up, which means less money to go around, and from what I found, the Canucks will need every cent they can get in the next two years. Here is what I found for Defenceman.

THE BREAKDOWN

Here are the Canucks Restricted Free Agents for Defenceman after this season: Erik Gudbranson, Ben Hutton, Nikita Tryamkin, Andrey Pedan. That will eat up a lot of their projected cap space of $20.7m next summer. In my humble opinion, Hutton and Tryamkin are a must, for the right price of course. Tryamkin will be the wild card, as we have heard so many conflicting reports, least of which his English language proficiency.

Then there is Gudbranson, the guy the Canucks traded highly touted prospect Jared McCann and two picks (a second and a fourth in 2016 Draft) for, and has yet to impress. I always evaluate a trade for the value of what was given up at the time, not what it turns into as that’s not a sure thing. My issue with Gudbranson is he currently makes $3.5m per season, and I doubt, regardless of play, he will want a reduction in pay.

The only major loss in salary after this season on the blueline would be Philip Larsen ($1m), who I think most of us won’t miss. After next season (depending on the Expansion Draft) Luca Sbisa’s $3.6m will be off the books. I like to assume he will still be here, as I can’t predict the future. They are currently spending roughly $20m on nine Defenceman, but if they want to keep all four that means that might go up.

If three of the four are resigned, that would put some pressure on the cap, as if Troy Stecher continues developing, he will need a new contract after the 2017-18 season. Again, I cannot predict the future, so will not make a concrete statement, but it appears he might be getting a good raise.

I also think Pedan needs to be resigned for a number of reasons. First, we haven’t seen enough to write him off yet, and a lot of Defenceman seem to mature later in their careers. Second, its never bad to have a reasonably priced, young Defenceman on the roster for injuries or slumps. Lastly, I would rather make a <$2m mistake than one more than that.

Between the four whose contracts are up after this season, and Stecher after next, that is a lot of money which will be needed for Defenceman. This also depends on when they are resigned. If they all continue to progress, and get better, they will get more money. Now you can get compensatory picks, and make trades if you can’t afford some of these guys. However, my faith in this Front Office to get a good return is waning.

We also have to take into account the expected emergence of Olli Juolevi, the 2016 First Round, Fifth Overall draft pick. Currently he has been sent back to the Juniors, so they will not have to worry about burning a year of his Entry-Level contract. However, if he develops as they hope he will, fitting him into the cap puzzle will not be easy.

CONCLUSION

The prevailing idea seems to be “If we can’t resign these guys we can just trade them.” This isn’t a video game, no one wants to pay, or over-pay, for your cast-offs. Trading them is a last ditch effort, and in Gudbranson’s case, it might be worth getting some compensatory picks if you don’t want to pay his asking price. The Canucks need to take some serious thought into what they want their blueline to look like in three to five years, because in the next two years is when they will have to pay for it.

 

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