The Vancouver Canucks enter the 2022-23 season pressed against the cap ceiling. In fact, one of the ways they will stay under the cap is by placing Micheal Ferland on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) once the season starts. That means the organization will need to rely heavily on value contracts to ensure it can stay competitive and make the playoffs for the first time since the 2020 bubble.
Value contracts don’t necessarily have to be those close to the league minimum, but ones that are considered well below market value. With all this in mind, here are the Canucks’ three best contracts for the 2022-23 season. (Note, entry-level contracts (ELCs) will not be included, which means Andrei Kuzmenko, Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander will not be listed).
Before people jump into the comments talking about J.T. Miller’s lucrative extension, that only comes in after the upcoming season meaning his cap hit for 2022-23 remains at $5.25 million. The Canucks’ leading point-getter with 99 in 2021-22 is ranked fourth on the team amongst forwards and seventh across the entire team. As for his cap hit league-wide for next season, he will rank 178th overall despite finishing ninth in league scoring a year ago.
One way to show a player’s value is by looking at comparables around the league. A great way to do this is by breaking down the cost per point. Last season, Miller finished with the third lowest among the top 35 point-getters in the league, costing the Canucks $53,030 per point. The only players below him were Nazem Kadri ($51,724) and Jonathan Huberdeau ($51,304).
Everyone likes a good bargain and Miller’s contract for next season will be in the debate for the best non-ELC contract across the league. While the jury is still out on his extension, it is hard to argue that there isn’t value with him counting just $5.25 million against the cap for the 2022-23 campaign. A core piece of this Canucks’ organization looks for him to continue to get fans out of their seats as he tries to replicate his career year from last season.
Thatcher Demko is not only saving the Canucks on the ice, but also in their chequebook. The star goaltender comes into the 2022-23 season with a cap hit of just $5 million, which is tied for 14th across the league. Only one goaltender in the league had more wins than his 33 last season and has a smaller cap hit. That was Frederick Anderson, who recorded 35 wins and will carry a cap hit of $4.5 million next season. Not bad for a goaltender that received an end-of-season Vezina vote after keeping Vancouver in the playoff race right up until the final weeks of the season last year.
As for Demko’s comparison on the Canucks, he ranks eighth on the team. What makes this contract even better is that he is signed for three more years after the 2022-23 season at this low cap hit compared to his market value worth. While Jim Benning made some questionable signings during his tenure as Vancouver’s general manager, this is one of the few that he hit a home run on.
With Demko expected to once again take a step forward this coming season, they could end up having a Vezina finalist making half of what Sergei Bobrovsky and Carey Price are making. That is massive value for the Canucks especially considering how starved for cap space they are thanks to the flat cap and signing/acquiring bad contracts. Not only does he have one of the best non-ELC contracts among goalies, but he is also in the running for the best contract across the league for the 2022-23 season.
It is hard to find a reason to dislike Luke Schenn. Not only does he play his heart out each shift and brings a physical presence to the team, but he also has one of the best-valued contracts in the league. Thrust into an elevated role playing next to Quinn Hughes last season; he finished with the 22nd lowest cost per minute on ice among non-ELC players with $748 per minute.
Schenn will cost the Canucks just $850,000 during the 2022-23 season and should once again play a vital role on their blue line. The big difference from this year to last is instead of him starting as the seventh defenceman, he will be on the opening night roster. If he once again averages 17 minutes – but plays a full season which would be an additional 16 games – there is no question he will be one of the top-five lowest cost-per-minute players in the league.
Every team needs a player like Schenn on their roster. One that can play up the lineup, not make too many mistakes and has a cap hit that is below $1 million. There is an extra benefit as he plays right-shot defence which is a major area of need for the Canucks. Not only is he a leader on the ice and in the dressing room, but he is also a leader when it comes to the best-value contracts on the team.
Canucks Need Value Contracts to Make Playoffs
The Canucks learned this offseason just how hard it is to move bad contracts, which is why these value ones are so important. Without them, the team would not have been able to bring in players like Ilya Mikheyev or re-sign Bo Horvat – which is expected to happen shortly. Vancouver needs to take advantage of the fact that they have these three great contracts during the 2022-23 season, as things are already looking tight when it comes to the salary cap in 2023-24.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.