Cap-Strapped Teams, and Why It’s Time to Trade Sbisa

I want to start this by acknowledging that in almost every post so far relating to roster management, I have advocated trading Luca Sbisa. I feel like I’ve been really hard on the guy, and I want to qualify that. I think, while overpaid, Sbisa is not a terrible defenseman like many claim. He’s a perfectly acceptable 5/6 defenseman, and although his gaffes are often strangely noticeable, he brings a lot of unique elements to a team.

However, a cap hit of $3.6 million is an absolute hindrance to the team, and now is the time to rid the team of that hindrance if possible. With the salary cap being significantly lower than expected this year, more teams than usual are scrambling for cap space. As a currently non-competitive team, the Canucks are in a perfect position to take advantage of cap-strapped teams. Unfortunately, the Canucks don’t exactly have a lot of cap space themselves, with a little under $3 million. The space opened up by trading Sbisa would allow the Canucks to gain assets for helping out teams in cap trouble.

If there really isn’t a market for Sbisa, I would go as far as to say trading Jannik Hansen before the season, for the reasons listed above, would be a wise choice. Hansen would yield great assets himself, and give the Canucks the vital cap space needed to make some moves.

In order to illustrate, I’ve collected some of the teams with the most obvious cap troubles, and some examples of how the Canucks could take advantage (if only they had more cap space of their own!)

 

Anaheim: Anaheim currently has tons of cap space, but unfortunately for them they have also yet to sign Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. Depending on how those negotiations go, the Ducks could have very little cap space or none at all. While Anaheim would undoubtedly pay a high premium to rid themselves of Kevin Bieksa and Clayton Stoner, the Canucks should steer clear of these Sbisa-esque contracts, unless the value attached to them is outrageously high (think Nick Ritchie). A better idea may be acquiring some scoring depth in Andrew Cogliano for relatively cheap.

 

Colorado: Colorado is a weird team to see on this list, but their signing of Tyson Barrie reportedly leaves them with less than $1 million in cap space, and a less-than-impressive roster. Their wing depth, in particular, is atrocious, and they will need space to make additions if they want to compete. Jarome Iginla is the obvious candidate to go, but he has a full NMC, meaning he chooses his destination. A return to Western Canada may entice Iggy, and the Avalanche would likely give up a huge asset to dump his contract without taking back salary. Gaining a 1st or a couple of decent prospects to put up with one year of Iginla mentoring our youth may be worth it to the organization.

 

Detroit: Detroit has negative cap space, although Johan Franzen will remain on LTIR. Still, that will leave them as close to the cap as possible. The Red Wings will be looking to dump salary, and talent like Brendan Smith may be available for very cheap. The Canucks should stay far away from the awful salary of Jonathan Ericsson. Jimmy Howard is an intriguing discussion. The Canucks have no need for him, but Detroit will be so desperate to rid themselves of his contract that they may offer ridiculous add-ons.

Just spit-balling here: Ryan Miller @ 50% retained for Jimmy Howard @ 25% retained+ Anthony Mantha+ 1st. Detroit gains immediate cap space and long-term cap space, as Miller’s deal expires after this season. The Canucks have the burden of Howard at about $4 million for three years, but it might be worth it for those premium add-ons. The Canucks could explore buying Howard out at some point, or just sucking it up. The Canucks’ goalie tandem would still cost far less than the two-headed monster in Dallas.

 

Los Angeles: LA is a perennial cap victim, but they’ve so far been mostly able to retain their talent. That will probably change this year. If the Kings aren’t able to dump Dustin Brown, and they won’t be, cap space will be at a premium in Hollywood. The Canucks could acquire scoring depth in Dwight King for next to nothing. In fact, they wouldn’t even need to trade Sbisa to accommodate this one.

 

Philadelphia: Philadelphia isn’t a major contender, but they have the cap situation of one. With less than a million in space, the Flyers have one of the highest salaries in the league. A player like Matt Read, at $3.625 million, could be acquired for next to nothing. An alternative idea, slightly more crazy, is Luca Sbisa for Mark Streit. This gives the Flyers immediate cap relief, as Streit has a cap hit of $5.25 million, and the Canucks benefit because Streit’s contract runs out after this season and he’s a much better player than Sbisa. This would be a fine option if Sbisa is unable to be traded without taking back major cap space.

 

Pittsburgh: The salary cap is the bane of all Stanley Cup Champions, and Pittsburgh is no exception. They’ll gain cap space from the pseudo-retirement of Pascal Dupuis, but it’s barely enough to get under the ceiling. A prime opportunity for the Canucks to add scoring depth while also adding future assets? Chris Kunitz. The Penguins would love to dump his one year, $3.85 million hit, and would probably add something like a 1st to him if they didn’t have to take back salary. Kunitz isn’t the player he used to be, but he brings experience and enough skill to help out a little.

 

San Jose: The California teams have a theme in this write-up: solid scoring options available for cheap. The Sharks have around $1 million in cap space but no backup goaltender, so they might have to make a deal. A depth winger like (the fabulously named) Tommy Wingels could probably be had for next to nothing if the Canucks did not send back salary. Alternatively, the Canucks could take care of that backup goalie problem by sending Ryan Miller @ 50% retained for Wingels.

 

Tampa Bay: Everyone knows the Lightning have cap problems. They still need to sign Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov, and those deals will undoubtedly leave them uncomfortably close to the cap. However, they may not be the best trade partners for the Canucks. Their best bet may be trading Ben Bishop, who the Canucks do not need. The Canucks should steer clear of Braydon Coburn’s contract, too. In smaller deals, the Lightning may even add assets to Erik Condra or Brian Boyle to move them, or dump JT Brown or Nesterov for cheaper depth, both of which would interest the Canucks. Valterri Filppula falls under the Chris Kunitz category, where the Lightning may add assets to move him, but with two years remaining, the Canucks shouldn’t be interested.

Looking way ahead, however, there will be further cap sacrifices after this season, when Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat must be re-signed, along with Jonathan Drouin. Many speculate that one of these players will be traded, with Palat as my top candidate. Palat would probably carry a high price-tag already, but it’s conceivable that Steve Yzerman could put Palat on the trade block a season early to raise his value even higher. If the Canucks want to “swing for the fences” on a trade, Palat is a fine choice.

Vancouver Canucks 2016-17 Point Predictions

For each player, I’ve listed three numbers. The first, Expected, is my actual prediction for how many points that player will get. Overachieve, on the other hand, is what I would consider an overachieving season for that player; a monster season, if you will. Finally, the Underachieve number is what I would consider a disappointing point total for that player.

NOTES: I only looked at players that I felt were relatively safe to make the NHL. For the purpose of these predictions, all players are expected to play a full 82 game season. The only exception is players that will be in and out of the lineup for reasons other than injury, so I’ve included notes about their Games Played totals in their write-ups. Also, I only predict in multiples of five!

 

FORWARDS

Henrik and Daniel Sedin- With the addition of Eriksson, it’s fair to expect a bit of an uptick in production from the Twins, but not much. Anything approaching PPG status would be a pleasant surprise.

Expected: 65, Overachieve: 80, Underachieve: 55

 

Loui Eriksson- If Eriksson clicks with the Sedins, there’s no reason to think his point totals will take a step back from last season. Sedin linemates always end up a few points behind the Twins.

Expected: 60, Overachieve: 80, Underachieve: 50

 

Bo Horvat- In my head, 50 points seemed like a breakout number for Horvat, but it’s really not, as he got 40 last year. Steady offensive progression is expected.

Expected: 50, Overachieve: 60, Underachieve: 35

 

Sven Baertschi- Baertschi’s success seems tied to Horvat’s, and their continued chemistry would mean good things for both players. This is more of a breakout number for Baertschi than Horvat.

Expected: 50, Overachieve: 60, Underachieve: 35

 

Jannik Hansen- Not everyone’s point totals can go up, and the Honey Badger seems poised to do some burrowing. Losing his spot with the Twins probably means Hansen goes back to his usual point totals.

Expected: 30, Overachieve: 45, Underachieve: 20

 

Brandon Sutter- Sutter is a hard one to call. His role in the lineup is unclear. He was on pace for about 40 points last year, but some of that came from playing alongside the Sedins, something he probably won’t do much of this year. Sutter may end up facing more defensive assignments this year in order to give Horvat more offensive opportunities, so a career average year sounds about right.

Expected: 35, Overachieve: 50, Underachieve: 20

 

Anton Rodin- The biggest wildcard on the roster, for sure. He will likely get an ample opportunity, but if he doesn’t belong in training camp he could be headed right back to Sweden. He has the largest range of expectations of any player.

Expected: 60 GP, 30 PTS, Overachieve: 80 GP, 55 PTS, Underachieve: CUT FROM TEAM

 

Jake Virtanen- I’m a believer in Jake Virtanen, but his waiver-status and Trevor Linden’s recent comments lead me to also believe that he’s destined for at least some time in Utica. He would be expected to contribute there almost right away, and hopefully earn his way back up by the quarter-season mark.

Expected: 60 GP, 25 PTS, Overachieve: 82 GP, 45 PTS, Underachieve: <30 GP, 10 PTS

 

Markus Granlund- Likely the 4th line center for most of the year. Not a lot of offensive opportunity there, but a good chance to pad his Games Played totals.

Expected: 80 GP, 20 PTS Overachieve: 80 GP, 30 PTS, Underachieve: <50 GP, 10 PTS

 

Brendan Gaunce- This is the year that we need to decide what we have in Brendan Gaunce, so he should get ample opportunity. Tough to know how much offense he can contribute to the NHL at this point.

Expected: 40 GP, 10 PTS, Overachieve: 80 GP, 25 PTS, Underachieve: CUT FROM TEAM

 

Derek Dorsett- With all the youth on the roster, Dorsett will likely play the entire year. Love him or hate him, he’ll make sure Virtanen and Tryamkin can throw their weight around without having to drop the mitts with the idiots of the league.

Expected: 80 GP, 20 PTS, Overachieve: 80 GP, 30 PTS Underachieve: <50 GP, 10 PTS

 

Emerson Etem- Etem is in direct competition with Brendan Gaunce. Etem may have the edge due to Gaunce’s ability to pass through waivers, but the team will not be afraid to cut him. Either way, he is losing plenty of ice-time to Alex Burrows throughout the year.

Expected: 40 GP, 15 PTS, Overachieve: 80 GP, 30 PTS, Underachieve: CUT FROM TEAM

 

Alex Burrows- Burrows will be sticking around, but how much he plays is questionable. If he stays healthy himself, injuries and his ability to play up and down the lineup will ensure he gets a decent amount of games in.

Expected: 60 GP, 15 PTS, Overachieve: 80 GP, 30 PTS, Underachieve: <40 GP, <10 PTS

 

DEFENSE

Alex Edler- A healthy year from Edler should mean around 40 points, but he’s been wildly inconsistent throughout his career. Age-wise, he’s still well within his prime.

Expected: 40, Overachieve: 50, Underachieve: 30

 

Ben Hutton- It’s probably not fair to expect Hutton to continue progressing at such a rapid rate, but the Canucks are hopeful that he can at least avoid the dreaded sophomore slump and maintain his production.

Expected: 30, Overachieve: 45, Underachieve: 20

 

Chris Tanev- This may finally be the year that Tanev breaks out offensively. This is probably my boldest prediction, but I think Tanev may even receive some powerplay time this year.

Expected: 30, Overachieve: 35, Underachieve: 15

 

Erik Gudbranson- Gudbranson is younger than Tanev, and may be a better candidate to breakout offensively, but I just don’t see it happening. He should be getting a lot of tough defensive assignments this year.

Expected: 15, Overachieve: 30, Underachieve: 5

 

Nikita Tryamkin- Who knows, with Tryamkin? Continuing to look like an NHL defenseman for a full season would be enough of a win. Offense can come later!

Expected: 10, Overachieve: 20, Underachieve: 5

 

Luca Sbisa- Chances are good that Sbisa will play the majority of the season, for better or for worse. Hard to say if he’ll bring more to the lineup at this point than Larsen or Pedan.

Expected: 15, Overachieve: 25, Underachieve: 5

 

Philip Larsen- Larsen and Pedan will inevitably get games due to injury, but which one goes in will probably depend on who’s injured and the opponent that night. Both have the potential to add some points, but Larsen has the higher offensive upside.

Expected: 40 GP, 15 PTS, Overachieve: 60 GP, 25 PTS Underachieve: CUT FROM TEAM

 

Andrey Pedan – Same deal for Pedan as with Larsen, but with less offensive upside. Still, Pedan wasn’t a slug at the AHL level, and displayed some pretty nifty skills from time to time.

Expected: 40 GP, 10 PTS, Overachieve: 60 GP, 15 PTS, Underachieve: CUT FROM TEAM

 

 

Conclusions: Nothing earth-shattering here, I know. At first glance, it looks like I’m predicting the Canucks offense to go way up next year, but remember, this isn’t factoring in injuries (except to say, for example, that Burrows will play a certain amount of games due as an injury replacement). Still, I don’t think a bit of a rise from the Canucks’ dismal 29th place finish in goals-scored last year is too much to expect, is it?

An Investigation into the Uniqueness of Radim Vrbata’s Situation

We’ve recently heard rumours that Radim Vrbata is going to sign in Europe, unable to land an NHL deal for the upcoming season. It has been an unbelievably swift decline for Vrbata, who within two seasons has gone from 31 goals on the top line with the Sedins to potentially out of the league entirely.

This led me to a question: exactly how unique is this? In other words, how many other players have gone from a 30-goal season to not being able to land a job in the league within two years?

 

For the purposes of this investigation, I’m going to set some parameters. I’ll only be looking at the last 25 seasons, so 1991-92 to the present. I’m also going to avoid listing players who clearly retired due to injuries or age. I’m using http://www.hockey-reference.com for my research.

 

1991-92 Season

Nobody, although Vladimir Ruzicka comes close. He scored 39 goals this season and was gone within three years.

 

1992-93 Season

Dmitri Kvartalnov- Our first hit! Kvartalnov, who I have never heard of, scored 30 goals for the Bruins this season, at age 26, 12 goals the next year, and returned to Europe forever thereafter. It appears he went straight back to Russia after having mixed success with the Bruins the following year and spending some time in the AHL. Hard to believe another team wouldn’t have taken a crack at him if he were willing to stay.

 

1993-94 Season

None, but Bob Kudelski comes close, going from 40 goals this year to out of the league within three.

 

1994-95 Season-Inconclusive data, lockout

 

1995-96 Season

Zdeno Ciger- Ciger had a weird career, scoring 31 goals for Edmonton this season and then promptly returned to Slovakia. He briefly returned to the NHL in 2001-02. One has to think this was Ciger’s choice rather than a lack of league interest in him.

 

1996-97 Season

Nobody!

 

1997-98 Season

Nobody!

 

1998-99 Season

Nobody here, either! As goal-scoring starts to decline, it seems like anyone who manages to get 30 goals isn’t going anywhere.

 

1999-2000 Season

The search continues!

 

2000-01 Season

Still nobody.

 

2001-02 Season

Nobody! This is getting boring. Only a decade and a bit to go!

 

2002-03 Season

Nothing to see here.

 

2003-04 Season

Nope! Looks like the NHL foresaw my boredom and gave me a pass on the next season. 😦

 

2004-05 Season- Inconclusive data, lockout

 

2005-06 Season

Tons of 30 goal scorers in the post-lockout scoring rush!

Anson Carter- Finally, another hit! And oddly enough, it’s a player who found himself in a very similar situation to Vrbata, our old friend Dancin’ Anson Carter. After 33 goals with the Twins, he split a year between Columbus and Carolina and then headed to Europe for a year.

 

2006-07 Season

Back to drawing blanks. Nobody here.

 

2007-08 Season

You guessed it! Nothing here.

 

2008-09 Season

Nope, just Chuck Testa.

 

2009-10 Season

Nobody in this season, either, but cool to see Alex Burrows in the top-ten goal scorers!

 

2010-11 Season

Nobody here either, but since I’m using these spaces for Canucks content now, how does Corey Perry win the Hart over Daniel Sedin when Sedin has a six-point lead? Robbery!

 

2011-12 Season

Ilya Kovalchuk- I think we all know the deal here. Kovalchuk definitely didn’t leave the league due to a lack of interest in him, as seems to be Vrbata’s fate.

 

2012-13 Season- Inconclusive data, lockout

 

2013-14 Season

Nobody here! One more to go!

 

2014-15 Season

Radim Vrbata- The man who sent me on this wild goose chase.

Jiri Hudler?- Right now Hudler doesn’t have an NHL contract, but I believe he could have one if he so chose. However, he did score 31 goals this season and may find himself outside of the NHL as of 2016.

 

Conclusions: With two cases where the player clearly chose to go back to Europe of their own accord (Ciger and Kovalchuk), and another where I think that was the major reason (Kvartalnov), the only player other than Radim Vrbata to score 30 goals and then have to exit the league due to lack of interest within two years is Anson Carter. In a bizarre coincidence, both players were accused of inflated egos after a great season with the Sedin twins, before leaving the NHL after rough follow-up campaigns. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing, other than further evidence that Vrbata’s downfall is nearly unprecedented. (and that Hudler’s downfall has also been pretty swift).

Why the Recapture Penalty Is Total Bologna

First of all, thanks to u/Karvalegoff on r/canucks for inspiring this writeup. Cheers!

The Vancouver Canucks, among other teams, are facing potential future consequences for previously signing contracts that are now seen as salary cap circumventing. The contracts in question were those that had a decreasing salary over a lengthy term, in order to reduce the cap hit during a player’s prime years. For a detailed explanation of these penalties, check out:

http://spectorshockey.net/fun-with-the-nhls-cap-advantage-recapture-rule/.

For a detailed explanation of why the rule is absolute horse hockey, continue reading this article!

 

Luongo’s Contract, Its Precedents, and Competitive Advantage

The Canucks signed Robert Luongo to a 12-year contract extension in September of 2009, with a total salary of $64 million and a cap hit each year of $5.333 million, repeating of course. The deal would kick in as of the 2010-11 season and last until Luongo was 42 years old. The contract peaked with single-season salaries of $10 million, right down to $1 million in the final years.

For the Canucks, the appeal was simple. $5.333 million was a low cap-hit for a goalie of Luongo’s calibre, which allowed the team more cap flexibility to ice a stronger roster during Luongo’s prime. This would also mean that Luongo would have that same cap hit when his skills diminished in his final years, but due to his low-salary in those years, it was thought he could then easily be dealt to a team struggling to reach the cap floor, like Arizona always is. More on them, later.

It’s easy to see how the contract could be construed as “against the spirit” of the salary cap, but the league approved it nonetheless. Not only that, the league had already approved several similar contracts before Luongo’s, including Henrik Zetterberg’s very similar 12-year deal with Detroit, signed in January of 2009, and Marian Hossa’s own 12-year deal with Chicago, signed in July. At the time, both of these teams were conference rivals of the Canucks. Their deals were approved, and so the Canucks were faced with a choice of using the same loophole as the other clubs or refusing to, and losing a competitive advantage. Given the calibre of team the Canucks were building at the time, it is understandable why they chose to sign the deal.

 

The Kovalchuk Fiasco and Tacit Re-Approval

The league didn’t just approve the Luongo contract on one occasion. It also tacitly approved it when it chose to disapprove the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk with the New Jersey Devils. Lou Lamoriello and the Devils tried to sign Kovalchuk to a ridiculous 17-year, $102 million contract that would have ended when he was almost 44. The league not only rejected this contract, but they imposed harsh penalties on the Devils, too, forcing them to give up a first-round draft pick (although the penalties were later greatly reduced).

In doing this, the league also chose not to re-visit or impose penalties upon Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, or any of the other teams that had signed similar contracts. They seemed to be a drawing a very clear line in the dirt; contracts like Luongo’s were the limit of what was acceptable, whereas Kovalchuk’s contract had gone too far. The league had established a specific standard.

This article explains exactly why Kovalchuk’s contract was rejected, while Luongo’s was not:

http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2010/7/21/1579736/why-ilya-kovalchuks-contract-was

This, of course, changed with the new CBA, which introduced the recapture penalty, retroactively punishing the Canucks and other teams. Most infuriatingly, these punishments came for contracts that had been approved not just once, after their initial signing, but a second time by the whole rigmarole surrounding Kovalchuk. The league deemed these contracts acceptable, and teams therefore took advantage of them, and now the league has changed their mind, yet it is the teams that must pay a penalty? Is it not the league that made a mistake in this situation?

 

The Arizona Double-Standard

Perhaps the greatest injustice of this, as mentioned in u/Karvalegoff’s post on r/canucks, is that the league continues to allow teams to circumvent the salary cap in a different way. Teams like the Arizona Coyotes are continually attempting to ice a roster that falls below the league’s salary cap floor. They do this by acquiring players, like Chris Pronger and Pavel Datsyuk, who no longer play in the NHL but have their full cap hits counted against the salary cap. The Coyotes, meanwhile, do not have to pay these players any actual salary, as Pronger’s is covered by insurance and Datsyuk has forfeited his paycheque. The league, so far, has done nothing to prevent this nor even spoke out against the practice.

In other words, the league is comfortable with a team circumventing the cap in order to ice a less-talented and less-entertaining team that league rules dictate, but feels the need to harshly punish teams that circumvent the cap in order to ice a more talented, competitive, and entertaining product. What sort of message does this send to the fans? Teams can circumvent the rules, but only when they’re doing so in order to create an inferior product for the paying customers.

 

Conclusions

It must be noted that some have suggested ways for the Canucks and other teams to avoid the recapture penalty. Whenever Luongo decides to retire, the Canucks could conceivably trade for him and place him on permanent LTIR, aka the Pronger Retirement Plan. Chances are good that Luongo’s body will prevent him from playing goal at some point in his future, so it might not even require too much of a stretch to get him on LTIR. However, if the Canucks are unable to pull that off, you can bet money that they will make a legal challenge of the rule before they face any actual penalties from it. Given the evidence presented here, it seems likely that the Canucks would win such a challenge. One would hope this is true, especially given the fact that while the Canucks current management team are not the ones who signed the Luongo contract, the league’s front office is largely unchanged from the group that approved the contract in multiple ways.

Who’s Left For The Canucks?

The Canucks’ roster for the 2016-17 season may seem finalized, but GM Jim Benning insists he is not done making moves. Here’s a quick look at some potential acquisitions hanging around the league in the form of unsigned free agents, players on the trading block, or future waiver bait. As Benning has stated, the focus of the players we will look at will be on scoring wingers, but I will also include some notables in other categories.

I should note that I personally am against the acquisition of another winger until we see how Jake Virtanen, Anton Rodin, and Brendan Gaunce perform in training camp, but if the Canucks are going to do it, here’s who they’ll be looking at.

In case anyone thinks I’m ranking these players, they’re in alphabetical order!

 

Unsigned Free Agents:

 

Steve Bernier, RW

The never-quite-successful former Canuck has actually played some pretty important roles on teams in recent years, including a Stanley Cup Final run. Still, despite being a right wing, calling Bernier a scoring threat these days is a stretch.

 

Brad Boyes, RW

“Brad Boyes, Brad Boyes, whatcha gonna do? Get traded at the deadline for a pick or two.” But seriously, Boyes is a fine bargain-basement option if any team needs cheap scoring depth. Probably more a candidate for a training camp invite than a contract.

 

Sam Gagner, C

Gagner is pretty underrated, I think, and could succeed in a scoring role if surrounded by talented players. However, that’s not going to happen in Vancouver, and I don’t think he can elevate those around him enough to make a difference. Pass.

 

Jiri Hudler, RW

Hudler is definitely a scoring right wing, and isn’t that far removed from his great 2014-15 season. However, that is looking more and more like an anomaly, and Hudler is probably one to stay away from unless the price is too good to pass up.

 

Barrett Jackman, D

Recently bought out, Jackman is probably more than willing to return home to BC, but the Canucks really do not have room for him unless there is some roster movement, or unless he’s willing to spend some time in the AHL.

 

Dominic Moore, C

How weird would this be? It definitely won’t happen, especially with Markus Granlund’s re-signing, but can you imagine the headlines?

 

Mattias Ohlund, D

Sign Ohlund to a one-day contract so he can retire a Canuck. I wouldn’t mind this at all, especially if he goes into the Ring of Honour this season.

 

Brandon Pirri, RW

A fragile winger with a lot of talent, Pirri would probably come cheap, but does he really have more upside than Rodin?

 

Kris Russell, D

Russell is probably the big loser of this Free Agency as, like Cody Franson before him, Russell seems to have waited too long and will now have to compromise on salary and likely term. This could allow the Canucks to sign him to a bargain deal, but unless all of Nikita Tryamkin, Andrey Pedan, and Philip Larsen bomb out in training camp, they have no room for Russell. Perhaps if they manage to deal Luca Sbisa?

 

Mike Santorelli, C/W

Always tempting to give Santo another shot, but that ship has definitely sailed.

 

Luke Schenn, D

I really do think Schenn is underrated due to huge expectations after his rookie season, but the Canucks still don’t have any room on D. Put Schenn in the “if they trade Sbisa” pile.

 

Vadim Shipachyov, C/W

It sounds like Shipachyov will be staying in the KHL, but this was probably the best possible option for the Canucks. People might be surprised, however, to find out that Shipachyov is already 29, so those expecting Panarin-like upside were set for disappointment, anyway.

 

Alex Tanguay, LW

A player well past his expiry date, Tanguay is also a left wing whereas the Canucks probably want a right wing. Still, he does have some Stanley Cup experience.

 

Kris Versteeg, LW

Versteeg plays the wrong wing and has the Chicago taint. No thank you!

 

After August 15th– Jimmy Vesey, LW

Look, I know Vesey isn’t coming to Vancouver. He’s currently being wooed by the Sabres, and has a ton of ties to Boston. Toronto also looks like a possible destination. However, the Canucks could arguably offer Vesey one of the best immediate opportunities in the league, as their forward prospect depth is less than stellar with Brock Boeser being a year away. At the very least, Benning will undoubtedly inquire on August 15th.

 

James Wisniewski, D

Wisniewski has had major health concerns, and is probably looking for a “prove it” contract. The Canucks have plenty of depth defensemen, but if several of them don’t pan out come training camp, the Wiz is a cheap and available option.

 

Players On Trading Block:

 

Tyson Barrie, D 

Barrie is probably the most interesting defenseman on the market, but he’s out of the Canucks price range. The Canucks don’t seem to be looking for D at this point, anyway. A trade involving Alex Edler and Barrie, if Edler is agreeable, could make some sense, but the Canucks would need a huge add.

 

Alex Burmistrov, C/RW

Burmistrov’s name seems to be constantly in trade rumours, and with all the youth entering Winnipeg’s lineup, now might finally be the time to trade him. He’s an option with upside that might not carry the price tag of some of the other young options I’ll discuss. The Canucks should look into this player.

 

Jonathan Drouin, RW

Despite seeming to have made up with Stevie Y, I still think Drouin will move. The future cap situation in Tampa Bay just can’t take another top-6 scorer if they want to keep Kucherov. By trading Drouin now, the Bolts avoid doing so when they’re backed into a corner in a season’s time. That being said, the price will be extremely high, and there’s no way the Canucks pull it off without trading a Boeser-level piece.

 

Nick Foligno, RW

Foligno hasn’t been expressly placed on the block, but the Blue Jackets are coming up to some well-known cap trouble. If Hartnell isn’t dealt, Foligno may have to be in order to make room. Foligno provides scoring and grit on the right side, but he has quite the contract, and the Jackets are probably expecting value back for him, to boot.

 

Travis Hamonic, D

Hamonic dropped his trade request, but you’d have to think he’d still jump at the chance to go to Western Canada. The price for Hamonic would be similar to Barrie or Trouba, but Hamonic does come with a contract attached. Hard to see a large D acquisition like this without a Canucks D-man exiting.

 

Jarome Iginla, RW

Iginla only moves if he wants to, and Avalanche fans would pretty much give him away for free at this point. A return to western Canada may appeal to Iginla, but probably not to play on a non-playoff Canuck team. He also doesn’t provide a fraction of the skill he used to.

 

Gustav Nyquist, RW

The Red Wings have some space issues on their forward roster next season, as we’ll discuss in the waiver section. If the Wings want to keep all of their youth, they might look at dealing Nyquist after a down season. The price would probably still be quite high, however.

 

Ryan Strome, RW

Strome is being pushed out of the Islanders roster as younger prospects overtake him, and if he doesn’t impress in training camp, the Isles will look to deal him rather than lose him in the expansion draft. Expect a similar price to Nyquist on Strome, which will be tough to swallow.

 

Jacob Trouba, D

See Barrie for the answer on Trouba, with probably even less of a chance of a deal going down. Whereas Barrie may be pricing himself out of the Avalanche, Trouba would only be traded due to the impending expansion draft, so the Jets can wait.

 

Nail Yakupov, RW

I actually think the Oilers will hang on to Yakupov to see how he does with McDavid this year, so the price on him might be more than expected. If the Canucks could acquire him for something akin to the Baertschi trade, they should definitely go for it.

 

October’s Potential Waiver Bait

 

Joel Armia, RW

Am I the only one who feels like Armia has been around for a decade? He’s only 23, but might be boxed out by even younger scorers in Winnipeg. A great, low-cost option if he hits waivers.

 

Alex Chiasson, RW

Chiasson came into the league like a thunderbolt, scoring 6 goals in his first 7 games. He has 32 goals in his subsequent 232 games. To put things in perspective, if Chiasson hits the waiver wire, it is because he lost his spot to Linden Vey. Probably one to take a pass on.

 

Ian Cole, D

Recent Stanley Cup experience and another for the “Sbisa’s Gone” stack.

 

Frank Corrado, D

Mostly for a laugh. The Canucks have much better options.

 

Tomas Jurco/Teemu Pulkinnen, RW/LW

As mentioned before, Detroit will need to lose at least one forward before next season. They are one of the most waiver-vulnerable teams and, barring a trade, the Canucks might be able to grab one of Jurco or Pulkinnen after training camp. Either is a coup.

 

Dylan McIlrath, D

I’ve always been really intrigued by McIlrath, and think he has underrated skill. Put him in my “Sbisa traded” pile from earlier.

 

Mark McNeill, RW

McNeill is a former first rounder that has never cracked the Chicago roster, but that is a very deep system that can keep talented players down, like Stephen Johns. Maybe worth taking a shot at, but he hasn’t shown a ton of talent even in the AHL.

 

Ty Rattie, RW

Rattie is one of those players that I secretly suspect has been held back by their unpleasant last names. That aside, he’s likely waiver bound and has shown a lot of scoring punch at every other level.

 

Conclusions: Given the lackluster free agent options, and the likely high cost of any good trade targets, I think patience until training camp is the best course. The team can then assess the players it has, and if they don’t pan out, there will be some solid talent on the waiver wire.

2016 Waiver Vulnerable Players League-Wide

With most NHL contracts now signed, it’s time to take a look at which players may be available on waivers at the beginning of next season.

This was a pretty unscientific approach, as I basically browsed the team pages on CapFriendly looking for players that

A) Could conceivably hit the waiver wire

And

B) Another team might conceivably have interest in picking up.

That’s it! Obviously, only a tiny fraction of these players will actually get picked up, but here’s the list:

 

Anaheim:

Chris Wagner, C- Wagner has been through the waiver process a few times, and this year might be no different.

Stefan Noeson, RW- The former Sens first rounder hasn’t panned out, but someone may want to give him one more opportunity.

 

Arizona:

Jarred Tinordi, D- Tinordi will probably hit waivers, but it is questionable whether anyone wants to take a chance on him again.

 

Boston:

Joe Morrow, D- A prospect that has seemingly been around forever, someone might still think Morrow has some untapped potential.

 

Buffalo:

Johan Larsson, LW- Larsson may find himself on the outside looking in with Buffalo, especially if they do sign Vesey.

 

Calgary:

Alex Chiasson, RW- There will be some competition at the bottom of the Calgary forward corps, and Chiasson is a possible casuality.

Linden Vey, C/RW- See Chiasson.

Tyler Wotherspoon, D- Wotherspoon has had some good showings, which may be enough for someone to take a shot.

 

Carolina:

Matt Tennyson, D- A D with experience who could lose his job to someone young like Haydn Fleury.

 

Chicago:

Mark McNeill, C/RW- McNeill has 1st round draft pedigree, but not much else. Probably passes through waivers.

David Rundblad, D- Rundblad isn’t a great D-man, but teams seem to keep giving him chances.

Viktor Svedberg, D- Chicago is going to have to waive a couple of D, and Svedberg looks like the most likely candidate to get scooped.

 

Colorado:

Andreas Martinsen, C- Showed some intriguing jam last year, but may lose spot to youngsters like Rantanen.

Duncan Siemens, D- A former first rounder who hasn’t developed much, but someone might take a chance.

Patrick Wiercioch, D- It might seem odd for a new UFA signing to hit waivers, but it could easily happen for Wiercioch.

 

Columbus:

Curtis McElhinney, G- If a team needs a goalie for a short-term injury replacement, McElhinney would do the trick.

 

Dallas:

Adam Cracknell, RW- Cracknell once again faces a training camp battle for an NHL job, like every year for him.

Patrick Eaves, RW- Eaves is facing stiffer competition this year, and a bad camp could cost him his job, although he would probably get picked up.

Curtis McKenzie, LW- McKenzie is a pure energy forward, and those often get snagged on waivers.

Jamie Oleksiak, D- The hulking defenseman is probably about to be passed by more skilled prospects, but his size couldmake him interesting to someone else.

 

Detroit:

Tomas Jurco, RW/LW-Detroit’s seemingly unending influx of young talent means that some always slip through the cracks. This year, somebody will get squeezed out to waivers, and Jurco is the most tantalizing possibility.

Xavier Ouellet, D- Ouellet probably stays as a 7th D-man, but could get bumped by someone else having a great camp.

Teemu Pulkkinen, LW- Pulkkinen is the more likely between he and Jurco to go to waivers, but also the less exciting.

 

Edmonton:

Iiro Pakarinen, RW-Probably gets waived due to some new youth like Puljujarvi and others joining, but probably an unlikely pickup.

Tyler Pitlick, RW-Pitlick is also caught in a numbers game, but is an even more unlikely pickup, unless a team has a 4th line spot and no other candidates.

 

Florida:

Greg McKegg, C- With a few new depth forwards joining the Panthers, McKegg is probably an odd man out, and should be considered for a pickup on name alone.

Logan Shaw, RW- Same deal for Shaw, minus the great name.

 

Los Angeles:

Andy Andreoff, C- Somebody has to go in Los Angeles, as there are only so many NHL spots. It will be a dogfight that leaves some quality on the waiver wire, as usual. Andreoff brings a lot of grit.

Michael Latta, C- Latta is very similar to Andreoff, so it’s likely that only one makes the Kings.

Nick Shore, C- LA shows their center depth here. At least one of these guys is going to be up for the taking, and maybe two!

 

Minnesota:

Victor Bartley, D- A D-man with experience is always a likely candidate for pickup from the waiver wire.

 

Montreal:

Mark Barberio, D- One of Barberio or Pateryn is going to hit waivers. Barberio is probably the more attractive acquisition.

Mike Condon, G- Condon was overwhelmed as an NHL starter last year, but could still be valuable as a backup. Almost certainly has lost his job to Al Montoya.

Stefan Matteau, LW- A former first rounder is always intriguing, and Matteau is still quite young at 22. Probably loses his spot to guys like Andrighetto, Carr, and Danault.

Greg Pateryn, D- See Barberio.

 

Nashville:

Stefan Elliott, D- A few teams have taken cracks at Elliott lately, and this year could see some more do it.

Austin Watson, LW- You never know when someone is going to want to have another look at a former first round talent. Watson is yet another.

 

New Jersey:

Beau Bennett, RW- Somebody has to go if Pavel Zacha makes it, and it could be Bennett.

Sergei Kalinin,RW- Alternatively, it could be Kalinin.

Keith Kinkaid, G- One of Kinkaid and Wedgewood will be Schneider’s backup, the other will be waived.

Scott Wedgewood, G- See above.

 

New York Islanders:

Alan Quine, C- Last year’s overtime hero is this year’s waiver bait.

 

New York Rangers:

Nathan Gerbe, LW- Everyone’s favourite little engine that could probably can’t very much longer.

Nicklas Jensen, RW- Nobody should want Jensen, but I listed almost every other former first rounder, didn’t I?

Dylan McIlrath, D- If the Rangers can’t shed some of their other D contracts, they may end up losing McIlrath. Someone will grab him.

 

Ottawa:

Buddy Robinson, RW- There’s something suspicious about a grown man named buddy, and his spot in the NHL is definitely suspect, too.

 

Philadelphia:

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, LW- Bellemare is actually from France, how exotic!

Nick Cousins, C- Cousins, like Bellemare, is part of a multi-player battle for bottom-line forward spots in Philly. Cousins is the best possible pickup.

Brandon Manning, D- A great pickup if you have any phenoms that need breaking.

Chris VandeVelde, C/LW- VandeVelde is yet another.

Jordan Weal, C- Not all of these guys will hit waivers, but at least one will. After Cousins, Weal is the most intriguing.

 

Pittsburgh:

Ian Cole, D- Cole could be the casualty if Derrick Pouliot steps up next year.

Stuart Percy, D- Who doesn’t like disappointing former first rounders?

 

San Jose:

Dylan DeMelo, D- Honestly, San Jose doesn’t really have any waiver candidates. The only way DeMelo hits the waiver wire is if Mirco Mueller really improves out of nowhere, which probably isn’t going to happen.

 

St. Louis:

Landon Ferraro, RW- Ray’s son is a textbook tweener, but some team may want him for a 4th line spot.

Ty Rattie, RW- Rattie hasn’t really panned out, but is still young at 23 and may have hidden offensive upside yet.

 

Tampa Bay:

Luke Witkowski, D- Tampa is also mostly fine, but let’s include Witkowski on the very longshot that somebody wants him from waivers.

 

Toronto:

Connor Carrick, D- With Zaitsev coming in, Carrick may be lost to waivers.

Frank Corrado, D- Corrado finally got some playing time with Toronto, but that might have been it for him.

Josh Leivo, LW- Leivo has been quickly overtaken by superior prospects, but may still be of use elsewhere.

 

Vancouver:

Alex Biega, D- There are too many incoming D for the Bulldog to keep his job.

Philip Larsen, D- If Biega stays, it will probably be because Larsen was a flop.

Emerson Etem, LW/RW- Enigmatic Emerson Etem eternally evades expressing excellence. Egads!

Alex Grenier, RW- Grenier is in tough to make the Canucks, but seems ripe for a 4th line chance somewhere else.

Mike Zalewski, C- Zalewski can do a little bit of everything, but it’s not likely he can convince another NHL team to pick him up.

 

Washington:

Brad Malone, LW: Washington also looks pretty waiver proof, but let’s put Brad Malone here so they don’t feel left out. He’s pretty good at getting beat up!

 

Winnipeg:

 Joel Armia, RW- Seems like he’s been around forever, but only 23. Might lose a spot with Laine incoming.

Quinton Howden, LW- Still young, and a part of the infamous Keith Ballard deal.

Michael Hutchinson, G- Hutchinson could be the victim of team stubbornness if they hang on to Pavelec.

JC Lipon, RW- Maybe a longshot to be picked up, but stranger things have happened.

Vancouver Canucks July 2016 Prospect Rankings

For something like this, there needs to be a lot of preamble. I find that, when it comes to prospect rankings, much of the debate is over the ranking method used, rather than the actual rankings, so I want to make sure my method is clear.

The prospect ranking formula that most are familiar with is the HockeysFuture model, where they give a prospect a number ranking, from 1-10, based on their upside, and a A-F ranking based on their likelihood to reach that upside.

I don’t like this model for a few reasons. Ranking players based on their maximum upside isn’t preferable because so few players actually reach their full potential. It’s more accurate, for ranking purposes, to look at their most likely projected outcomes. My 1-10 ranking is based mostly on various scouting reports, and tries to present an average of what those scouts and pundits think each prospect will become.

Note: This is what each player should become if their development goes as planned. Of course, most players won’t have their development go as planned, so this is not saying that every player is going to pan out. The rough sketch of what the scores mean is:

10= An elite player, perennial All-Star

9=A top pairing defenseman, a top line forward, or a top-10 goalie

8=A high-end second pairing defenseman or second line forward, or an above average starting goalie

7=A second pairing defenseman, second line forward, or average starting goalie

6=A third pairing defenseman, third line forward, or solid backup goalie

5=An extra defenseman, fourth line forward, or regular backupgoalie

4=A short-term NHLer at best

3=An NHL/AHL tweener

2=An AHL veteran

1=Not even an AHL veteran

 

The ranking of a prospect’s likelihood to reach their potential is also flawed, in my opinion. A prospect’s development is affected by so many external factors, like coaching and injuries, that it’s silly to put a number on this right after a prospect is drafted. Instead of this ranking, I’ll use a Projected NHL Arrival Date instead. This shows how close a prospect is from NHL action, and thus, how developed they currently are, and how much more development they’re likely to need. In a sense, this category also predicts how likely it is that a prospect has an NHL career, as those closer to the NHL now are obviously more likely to pan out than those that are far away.

My actual rankings of the players will weigh the two categories fairly evenly, but I’ll apply my own personal opinions here and there, too.

Finally, I am not considering any prospects that I consider to have solidified NHL positions. So Anton Rodin, Philip Larsen, Nikita Tryamkin and Ben Hutton won’t be appearing on this list, and nor will Jake Virtanen. Even though he might start in the AHL, Virtanen’s stay down there would certainly be temporary. Andrey Pedan is also not on the list, as his waiver-eligibility makes him a near-certain NHLer.

 

Without further ado, the list:

 

1) Olli Juolevi, D

Projected Outcome: 9

Projected NHL Arrival: 2017-18

Blurb: Perhaps not expected to be an elite defenseman, but a reliable, top-pairing minute muncher. Juolevi probably hits the NHL after one more year in junior.

 

2) Brock Boeser, RW

Projected Outcome: 9

Projected NHL Arrival: 2017-18

Blurb: Boeser has the look of a 30 goal scorer in the NHL. He should break directly into the league after one more college season.

 

3) Thatcher Demko, G

Projected Outcome: 9

Projected NHL Arrival: 2018-19

Blurb: At this point, very few goalies prospects look as good as Demko, and a good rookie pro season could have him backing up Markstrom as soon as next year, although the season after is more likely.

 

4) Jordan Subban, D

Projected Outcome: 7

Projected NHL Arrival: 2017-18 

Blurb: Subban had a great rookie pro season, but his defensive game still needs some work. Another solid season will get him some looks, but he is at least a year away from full-time status.

 

5) Brendan Gaunce, C/LW

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2016-17

Blurb: Gaunce doesn’t have the upside of other prospects, but he is NHL ready now,and should see significant time with the team this season.

 

6) Troy Stecher, D

Projected Outcome: 7

Projected NHL Arrival: 2018-19

Blurb: As an undrafted free agent, Stecher is entering his rookie pro season at a more advanced age, and thus is expected to advance more quickly. He has impressed at the summer prospect camp.

 

7) Guillaume Brisebois, D

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20

Blurb: Brisebois has been traded to a better QMJHL team, which hopefully leads to a big development year for him. Should join the Comets next season.

 

8) Adam Gaudette, C

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: Gaudette had a great rookie NCAA season, and established himself as a two-way force. He seems like the kind of player that would benefit from 3 or 4 seasons in college, and so it may be awhile before he hits the pro ranks.

 

9) Alex Grenier, RW

Projected Outcome: 5

Projected NHL Arrival: 2016-17

Blurb: Grenier is running out of time to establish himself as an NHL player. If he doesn’t do it with the Canucks, another team might pluck him on waivers and give him a shot.

 

10) Cole Cassels, C

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2018-19

Blurb: Cassels had a very disappointing AHL debut, but was coming off some difficult injuries. A lot is riding on his ability to bounce back this year.

 

11) Dmitri Zhukenov, C

Projected Outcome: 7

Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20

Blurb: Zhukenov is a bit of a boom or bust prospect. He will either play a scoring role in the NHL or not make it at all. Either way, he has a lot of development to go before he gets close.

 

12) Tate Olson, D

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20

Blurb: Olson will return to the WHL this season, and won’t be considered for a pro contract until 2017-18 at the earliest. Despite an impressive post-draft year, Olson will need a lot of polish before ever seeing NHL time.

 

13) Carl Neill, D

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20

Blurb: Olson and Neill are similar prospects, it seems, and both will likely be battling each other for opportunities for awhile. Neill’s path should be very similar to the one described above.

 

14) William Lockwood, RW

Projected Outcome: 7

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: Lockwood may have a lot of untapped offensive potential, but his game is quite raw. He will need a lot of development, first at the NCAA and then AHL level, before having a chance at an NHL career. A project player.

 

15) Borna Rendulic, LW/RW

Projected Outcome: 4

Projected NHL Arrival: 2016-17

Blurb: It’s hard to know where to rank Rendulic. He’s ready for some NHL time, but it is unlikely that he ever fulfills a meaningful role at that level. Likely an AHL lifer or Europe-bound.

 

16) Jakob Stukel, LW

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20

Blurb: Drafted as an overager, so his window of opportunity is shorter than that of others. Stukel had quite the upward trend after being traded in the WHL, but that will need to continue if he has any hope of making it.

 

17) Mike Zalewski, C/LW

Projected Outcome: 5

Projected NHL Arrival: 2016-17

Blurb: Like Grenier and Rendulic, Zalewski is ready for some NHL time now, but will only get a brief chance to showcase himself as a long-term talent. The odds are certainly against him.

 

18) Lukas Jasek, RW

Projected Outcome: 7

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: Jasek is another boom or bust talent, and him not being picked in the CHL import draft was disappointing. The challenge will be giving Jasek enough opportunity in North America to keep him from pursuing a European career.

 

19) Cole Candella, D

Projected Outcome: 6

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: Candella has been drafted into a system suddenly flush with defense prospects, and will have to do something special to make himself stand out amongst them.

 

20) Michael Garteig, G

Projected Outcome: 4

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: With Demko entering the pro scene, Garteig may never get a realistic shot at NHL time. His best course is to seek the AHL starting job after Demko ascends and go from there.

 

21) Yan-Pavel Laplante, C/LW

Projected Outcome: 3

Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20

Blurb: Signed as an undrafted free agent, Laplante won’t have much time to earn himself an NHL opportunity. Laplante can definitely fight, but it remains to be seen if he can do anything else at the pro level.

 

22) Michael Carcone, LW/C

Projected Outcome: 2

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: I admittedly don’t know much about the recently signed Carcone, but his profile seems to paint him as a typical AHL lifer. Of course, he could surprise.

 

23) Joseph Labate, RW/C

Projected Outcome: 3

Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20

Blurb: Labate has one thing going for him: size. He started to throw his weight around for the Comets last year, and that will be his one and only ticket to an NHL audition.

 

24) Ashton Sautner, D

Projected Outcome: 2

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: The system is just too clogged for Sautner to ever get a real chance at NHL time.

 

25) Rodrigo Abols, C

Projected Outcome: 3

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: Abols has some raw skills, but they’re unlikely to develop into anything.

 

26) Evan McEneny, D

Projected Outcome: 2

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: Like Sautner, McEneny is soon to become a victim of the numbers game.

 

27) Mackenze Stewart, LW/D

Projected Outcome: 2

Projected NHL Arrival: 2021-22

Blurb: Stewart fills a niche that doesn’t really exist in the pro game anymore.

 

28) Tom Nilsson, D

Projected Outcome: 1

Projected NHL Arrival: 2021-22

Blurb: Nilsson doesn’t seem to have a ton of upside, and is likely to have a short stint in North America.

 

29) Brett McKenzie, C

Projected Outcome: 1

Projected NHL Arrival: 2022-23

Blurb: Like most 7th rounders, McKenzie has limited upside.

 

30) Kyle Pettit, C

Projected Outcome: 1

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: When you’re a faceoff specialist at the OHL level, a pro career is not in the cards for you.

 

31) Anton Cederholm, D

Projected Outcome: 1

Projected NHL Arrival: 2020-21

Blurb: It doesn’t look like Cederholm will even progress beyond the ECHL level.