Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
By Scott Rosenhek
With all the excitement over the new faces joining the Canucks’ roster today, I thought it would worth it to take a look at the team’s contract and cap situation. Per CapFriendly, the Canucks currently have 23/23 players on the roster, 40/50 contracts used and approximately $8.575 milllion in cap space.
Looking at the maximum number of contract slots remaining, it would seem the Canucks have room to add more to their roster. However, it should be noted that we have 6 RFA’s that require new contracts. Joseph LaBate and Evan McEneny are not shown above, but are part of this group. Signing all six puts the number of contracts to 46/50.
At the moment, Olli Juolevi is exempt from this count. But, if he makes the team this year and plays more more than 9 games, his contract will count as well, bringing the total to 47. The Canucks could look to sign a couple more players, but I would prefer to use the slots for waiver-wire pick ups when the injury bug inevitably hits the team.
There is also the concern over cap space. Circling back to the RFA group, 5 of these players are not due for large raises. Brendan Gaunce, Michael Chaput, Reid Boucher, Joseph LaBate and Evan McEneny will likely collect contracts in the $700 000-$900 000 range. This still amounts to $3.5-4.5 million, leaving approximately $4-5 million left to sign Bo Horvat.
Bo Horvat’s camp wants to cash in big, but at this point, I would estimate the Canucks may not have the room to do so. Horvat may have to accept a two year bridge with whatever cap space is available and cash in at the end of that contract. It will be interesting how these negotiations turn out as the summer goes on.
*Update*: I just realized I made a mistake. With Megna, Chaput, LaBate, McEneny and possibly Boucher in the minors, there should be plenty of cap space to sign Bo Horvat.
The last thing I wanted to discuss is about the roster slots available. Based on how the Canucks have approached their rosters in the last few years, I think it is safe to assume that the team would ideally carry 13 forwards, 8 defensemen and 2 goaltenders at one time.
As CapFriendly shows, there is a logjam at the forward position. We can safely assume that the Sedins, Loui Eriksson, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner, Derek Dorsett (whether you like it or not), and Bo Horvat have locked down spots. That is 9/13 spots in this scenario, leaving a lot of competition for four spots on the roster. Jayson Megna, Michael Chaput, Joseph LaBate and Griffen Molino are likely bound for Utica. I also believe Alexander Burmistrov has a spot to lose on the roster (10/13).
If one of Sutter or Gagner shift to the wing, this could open up a center spot for Brendan Gaunce (11/13). This leaves Nikolay Goldobin, Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser, Reid Boucher and Anton Rodin to compete for the final two spots. Unless Virtanen pushes his way on the roster, I think he is heading to Utica for another year. Goldobin and Boeser don’t require waivers, making it easier to send either down. Boucher will need waivers and unfortunately for him, I think he may be squeezed off the roster. Rodin needs waivers, but I am not sure if there is an out clause in his contract if he doesn’t make the Canucks.
On defense, we already have 8 defensemen with contracts. If Philip Holm plays his way onto the roster, Alex Biega is likely waived. Once again, Jordan Subban won’t get a shot at NHL games, barring several injuries. It is far to crowded for Andrey Pedan to make the Canucks unless he forces the team to make a tough decision. Olli Juolevi is likely not making the big club, leaving him two options: another year with the London Knights or perhaps a loan to a professional team in Europe (possibly in the Finnish Liiga).
The new players that will be wearing Canucks colours will be forcing young players out of the lineup. This has it’s pros and cons. A positive is giving the younger players time to marinate in lower professional leagues. However, a negative is the Canucks are not going all in on this rebuild and fans will not get to see their young stars at home.