Thursday, March 13 – Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner announced the NHL will suspend the 2019-20 regular season due to the increase in coronavirus transmission.
The pause in the season should give Benning ample time to plan how to get the club out of the bad contracts they are carrying as painlessly as possible.
Photo Credit: Dailyhive.com
The general manager of the Vancouver Canucks has landed himself in a messy situation that will see him hitting the salary cap limit very soon. It doesn’t take a mastermind to guess that one of the things on his present to-do list certainly includes – how to bail himself fast out of the cap crunch mess.
Yes, he definitely should be applauded for getting some good bargains for the Canucks. Two seasons back, he got center Bo Horvat, who was made the Canucks captain last year to sign a 6-year extension for $33 million – which is a real bargain for the club.
In addition to that, getting defenseman Alexander Edler to agree to a short term 2 years extension was a great achievement last summer.
Furthermore, Benning successfully got the best winger in the Canucks lineup, Brock Boeser to settle for a bridge deal and at a modest sum. Boeser signed a 3 years contract worth $17.625 before the 2019-20 season started.
Despite these bargain deals, Benning has a few bad contracts he should quickly devise ways to unload. Contracts such as those of Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Brandon Sutter, and Jay Beagle are seriously hurting Benning and could cause trouble for the Canucks – as the cap crunch looms. Luckily, three of the contracts can somehow be moved.
According to CapFriendly, the Canucks owed Eriksson a signing bonus of $4 million in 2019-20 and a $3 million the following year. Then another $1 million in 2021-22. The base salary of Eriksson for this season 2019-20 and the next season 2020-21 is $1 million only, though in 2021-22 it goes up to $3 million.
However, since the Canucks have paid out most of Eriksson’s contract, it may be easy finding a taker for the forward. Maybe teams like the Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, and Arizona Coyotes who do not mind taking on contracts that are bad will bid for him. These clubs like deals involving young assets, and Eriksson at 34 years old may be seen as a bit past his prime.
If the Vancouver Canucks could add an enticing decent prospect (which they have in abundance) or a mid-round pick – this may probably persuade a team with lots of cap room to buy Eriksson’s contract.
Brandon Sutter, Canucks Center has just one year remaining on his 5 years contract – whose cap hit at $4.375 is considered fair. Although some clubs may value a talented checking center and skilled penalty killer with twenty goals potential who is healthy. It may not be advisable for the Canucks to hold out too long for such a deal.
They should probably dump salary and do away with Sutter. The club needs the space, and they could give him away for as low as possible. This is because the seventh-round pick is no longer part of the team’s long-term picture.
Even though Canucks winger Antoine Roussel delivered quality leadership and plenty of grit to fire up a fledgling Vancouver team, his cap hit of $3million which is not worth it. Benning should not have much of a problem getting Roussel off the team.
Proficient teams like the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Pittsburgh Penguins could use a checking forward that is reliable like Roussel. The winger is capable of providing protection for star players of any club he ends up with.
This offseason, Canucks GM, Benning could lose either Troy Stecher or Chris Taney. Canucks MVP goaltender, Jacob Markstrom due to his stellar and record-breaking performance could fix a price the team cannot afford and end up leaving Vancouver. And it is not going to be easy making room for a Toffoli extension.
Moreover with forward Elias Pettersson and blueliner Quinn Hughes (two of the brightest young stars in the NHL) both up for mammoth extensions – Benning needs to start hoarding every dollar as much as he can to keep those two. With some ingenuity on his part, it should be possible for the GM to make room for at least 2 expensive contracts.
If Benning could not achieve all these, he will ultimately be forced to do away with some of the team’s key contributors. An action that may spell doom for the Canucks who are looking forward to up their game and take it to the next level.
While the deadly COVID-19 pandemic may be giving Benning time to sort through the looming cap crunch due to the pause in NHL season. On the other hand, it must have dampened the spirits of some of Vancouver prospects, the likes of Carson Focht and Jett Woo.
Woo, a second-round pick in 2018 and Focht, a fifth-round pick in 2019 were gearing up for the playoff run before the pause to all games. If there hadn’t been an outbreak of the coronavirus, many clubs’ prospects including these two would have benefited greatly – and Woo’s name most likely wouldn’t have ended up on a GoFundMe Page.