Perfect Storm Caused Boeser, Canucks to Settle on Bridge Deal

Vancouver Canucks fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when the club announced that they had finally come to an agreement on a contract with star winger Brock Boeser. It was getting late into the offseason, and people began worrying about the potential of Boeser missing more than just a couple of preseason games. It wasn’t looking good, and with reports that the sides weren’t close at all coming out just a week ago, it seemed the stalemate was going to continue.

It was becoming more likely with each passing day that the Canucks would have to prepare to start their season without Boeser on the team. That’s why it was such a relief when the contract was announced. Few people would have been upset had the deal carried a longer-term or a higher cap hit, as most just wanted to see the star winger back with the team. This is a team-friendly deal that is good for both the Canucks and for Boeser, but many still wonder why a bridge deal was the result, and not a long term deal instead.

Lack of Cap Space?

A heavily talked about subject throughout the summer was that the Canucks’ lack of cap space was the main issue in getting Boeser signed. While this is partly true, there’s more to this argument than simply saying the cap was mismanaged. The Roberto Luongo recapture penalty, combined with the salary cap hardly moving up at all, are partly to blame for the team’s lack of cap space. That’s not to give anyone free passes, however, as the recapture penalty, in particular, was something Canucks’ management knew was a possibility all along.

Jim Benning
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Whether you choose to believe the Canucks have a cap problem or not, I think Satiar Shah of Sportsnet650 said it best through a series of tweets shortly after the deal was announced:

If they wanted to get him to a long term deal, they could have. This is an evaluation disagreement, that’s where the real discussion is. You can disagree about the valuation they had on a long term deal vs. what Boeser wanted. The cap situation is unnecessarily complicated, there is no disputing that, but there are people in that front office that understand the cap & could navigate a bigger cap number if the team had a higher valuation on a long term deal.

-Satiar Shah

The truth is, the Canucks are getting one of their core players for three more years at a good price, and that is something that fans should be excited about. Not to play devil’s advocate, but it’s important to remember that the Canucks have yet to see Boeser complete a full season. Personally, I believe he has the potential to be a regular 40-goal scorer in this league, but a bridge deal still makes sense for both the player and the team in this scenario.

Team and Player Benefit

Boeser gets to cash in on a potentially big payday in three years’ time when the Canucks will be better equipped to dish out bigger money, seeing that the contracts of players such as Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, and Jay Beagle will be off their books. These players will need to be replaced, but hopefully, the likes of Vasily Podkolzin, Nils Hoglander, and other prospects will be NHL ready and on entry-level deals at that time. Boeser gets his payday, and the Canucks get to lock up a core piece for even longer than if they had signed him to a long term deal last offseason.

Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another reason this deal ended up being a bridge deal was the ever-changing market for restricted free agents this summer. Boeser’s agent, Ben Hankinson, went on Sportsnet650 yesterday morning and said the following:

We talked about a long term deal, we were heading that way but the market changed. I got upset at the numbers that were leaked about seven million at the draft. We were close but just couldn’t close, but we are happy with three years.

-Ben Hankinson

Hankinson’s message makes it clear that both sides originally had their sights set on a long-term deal; but after factors such as adding J.T. Miller, Tyler Myers, and re-signing Alex Edler played into things, there just wasn’t that much interest from the Canucks to commit to a long term deal. As Satiar Shah said, if the Canucks really wanted to, they could have navigated their cap issues to bring Boeser back on a long-term deal, but obviously are happy to bring him back on a bridge deal.

Related:Quinn Hughes is Here and Ready to Change the Canucks

That being said, a bridge deal has the potential to work against the Canucks and make them pay dearly. If Boeser reaches his full potential, then the Canucks will have to cough up big bucks in three years’ time in order to bring him back. However, if he continues to struggle with injuries and can’t break the 30-goal plateau, the Canucks will have dodged a major bullet by not committing long term.

Tyler Seguin, Anton Khudobin, Brock Boeser
Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin and Tyler Seguin defend against Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The chances of the latter happening are extremely slim in my opinion, which is why I wrote earlier in the offseason that I felt Boeser deserved longer than a bridge deal. At the end of the day, both sides are happy with the deal that was reached but had it not been for Luongo retiring, the salary cap not increasing by much, and other offseason moves, the Boeser deal could have looked very, very different.