Photo Credit: Screenshot from Vancouver vs Calgary 10/12/16
By Scott Rosenhek
Let’s Be a GM is a series where I get the chance to put myself in the shoes of Canucks General Manager, Jim Benning. I am going to go through the previous management group’s history in trading, the offseason and at the draft table. Since hindsight is a prevalent factor, any decisions made will be done with ONLY information at the time of a trade, signing or draft selection. With that in mind, there are a few assumptions I will make for this series:
- The Canucks finish each season with the same place in the standings and the same first round draft position from 2014-2017.
- Alternate trades will NOT be based on using NHL 18 or any other GM simulators. Instead, I will make my best estimation of what I can get in return for Canucks assets. This will not be perfect and I am very open to feedback on any new trades.
- Personnel changes in the management group such as scouts, executives, etc. will stay the same.
I am so sorry, Loui. It’s not the most flattering picture, but that look after you scored on the Canucks’ own empty net was a good way to describe the entire season. Loui Eriksson was the big splash Jim Benning made during Free Agency and it did not turn out well.
At this point in the Canucks timeline, Jim Benning and company have not admitted that this team needs to rebuild. They will be making moves to bring the team back to the playoffs. I will not be participating in the “retool” or whatever people will call it. If I am going to use cap space, it will likely be for bad contracts in exchange for futures.
Before this kicks off, there is one matter of business to take care. The team has decided to part ways with Chris Higgins by buying out the final year of his contract. His cap hit will now be $833 000.
I will sign the following players to an ELC: Troy Stecher (2 years, $925 000 AAV), Griffen Molino (2 years, $925 000 AAV), Michael Gartieg (1 year, $925 000), Michael Carcone, Zac MacEwen, Jalen Chatfield, Kevin Labanc, Francis Perron, Thatcher Demko, Blake Speers, Parker Wotherspoon, Mathieu Joseph, and Taylor Raddysh.
Jim Benning signed Stecher, Molino, Demko, MacEwen, Chatfield, Carcone, Gartieg and Yan-Pavel Laplante.
Jim Benning signed the following players for the Utica Comets: Jayson Megna (1 year, one-way $600 000), Michael Chaput (1 year, two-way $600 000), Richard Bachman (1 year, $650 000), Chad Billins, Borna Rendulic, Mike Zalewski (1 year, two-way $633 000), Alex Grenier (1 year, two-way $600 000).
I don’t see the harm in keeping these signings. Don’t worry, I will have a plan when our forwards are decimated with injuries. That plan will be going to the waiver wire to fill the roster. Acquiring players such as Teemu Pulkkinen, Seth Griffith and Reid Boucher will help fill in the missing spots on the roster.
Here are more Jim Benning signings I agree with:
Anton Rodin, 1 year, $950 000.
Alex Biega, 2 years, $1.5 million ($750 000 per year).
Markus Granlund, 2 years, $1.8 million ($900 000 per year).
Jacob Markstrom, 3 years, $11 million ($3.667 million per year)—starts in 2017-18.
Ben Hutton, 2 years, $4.8 million ($2.4 million per year).
Here are the Jim Benning signings I will be avoiding:
Philip Larsen and Emerson Etem. Baertschi and Pedan were not acquired during my armchair GM run, so they won’t have contracts either.
The biggest contact I am avoiding is the Loui Eriksson contract (6 years, $36 million). I like Eriksson, but rebuilding teams don’t sign big free agents when they are not close to being competitive.
I would make the following signings:
Re-sign Adam Cracknell, 1 year, $675 000.
Matt Irwin, 1 year, $600 000.
Chad Johnson, 1 year, $1.7 million.
Jack Skille, Tuomo Ruutu, Kevin Carr and Blake Shepard were all brought in on a professional tryout (PTO). Jim Benning signed Jack Skille, but I will not sign anyone.
Rodin was injured during training camp, so he is put on the IR until we learn that he needs another surgery.
I choose not to qualify Zack Kassian so I could get him at a long-term deal at a cheaper price. $1.75 million per year is a little much for a 4th line forward. He refuses and let’s say the Edmonton Oilers present an offer sheet that is 1 year, $1.5 million. He signs the offer sheet and I don’t match because the compensation for him would be a 2017 3rd round pick (84th overall).
Rickard Rakell is an RFA and needs a new contract. Normally, GM’s give a 2-year bridge deal before handing out a big contract, but Rakell wants a long-term deal. He’s 24 years old and coming off a 43-point season (I will use his real 2015-16 stats since I can’t predict his alternate stats). I will sign Rakell to a 6 year, $24 million deal ($4 million per year).
Bo Horvat produced 40 points as a 21-year-old center, so this would be the time to start negotiating an extension. Bo’s camp also wants a long-term deal, but I argue that he won’t get as much money now and that a bridge deal could pay lead to a huge payout in the future. If Horvat proves he is the real deal, then he will get paid well. Let’s say negotiating goes well and his agent accepts a 2 year, $8 million bridge deal ($4 million per year).
Daniel Sedin—Henrik Sedin—Jannik Hansen*
Nikolaj Ehlers—Bo Horvat—David Pastrnak
Markus Granlund—Rickard Rakell—Kevin Labanc
Alex Burrows*—Brendan Gaunce—Nikolai Kulemin
*When Hansen and Burrows are traded, I will call up Michael Chaput and insert Nikolay Goldobin in the lineup until Griffen Molino and Brock Boeser join the team. Then, I would send Chaput back to Utica. All waiver exempt players will be papered at the deadline to help the Comets.
Alexander Edler—Troy Stecher**
Ben Hutton—Chris Tanev
Matt Irwin—Cody Franson
Shea Theodore—Alex Biega
**When the mumps hits the team, I will be calling up Brandon Montour and Jordan Subban
Salary Cap and Contract Slots
- Sedin (7), H. Sedin (7), Hansen (2.5), Ehlers (.894167), Horvat (.894167), Pastrnak (.925), Granlund (.9), Rakell (4), Labanc (.7175), Burrows (4.5), Gaunce (.863333), Kulemin (4.1875), Cracknell (.675), Edler (5), Stetcher (.925), Hutton (2.4), Tanev (4.5), Irwin (.6), Franson (3.25), Biega (.75), Theodore (.863333), Markstrom (1.55), Johnson (1.7)
Luongo contract retention (.8)
Chris Higgins Buyout (.833333)
Cap hit of opening night roster: $58.228333 million
Salary Cap: $73 million
Contract slots used: 39/50
2017 NHL Expansion Draft
I will choose to build my protection list around 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie.
Forwards: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat, David Pastrnak, Rickard Rakell, Markus Granlund and Brendan Gaunce
Defense: Alexander Edler, Chris Tanev and Shea Theodore
Goalie: Jacob Markstrom
Alex Biega would fulfil the exposure requirements for defensemen, Nikolai Kulemin fulfils forward requirements and Richard Bachman covers goalie requirements.
I am purposely exposing Cody Franson since I expect Brandon Montour to take on a bigger role in the following season. I was thinking about exploring a trade to hide another team’s forward on our roster for a high pick, but as we saw at the real Expansion Draft, those teams chose to make deals with the Golden Knights instead.
I believe the Vegas Golden Knights would select Cody Franson.
I am very happy that the team has the cap space to sign the upcoming contract for David Pastrnak. There will even be enough space to sign Ehlers the following year and Horvat’s big contract in three years. Lastly, if the Sedins want to play past their current contracts, there is more than enough room to accommodate them.
The lineup above is not a playoff team and should have no trouble falling to a bottom five finish with the injuries. Despite that, I would hope this season would be like the 2015-16 Maple Leafs. They lost many games, but their underlying metrics were fantastic. This team looks set for the expansion draft, but I will go over protection lists in the final offseason piece of this series.