Since president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin took over the Vancouver Canucks’ front office, the organization has continued to state their goal is to create cap space. To do so, the organization aimed to move a few overpaid contracts. However, halfway through the 2022-23 regular season and the passing of the 2023 Trade Deadline, the Canucks have not moved much. Instead, the club is set to start the 2023-24 season over the cap limit. Therefore, they’ll have to get creative with how they free up cap space on their roster.
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One of the methods the Canucks can use to create space is buying contracts out. In January, Rutherford said the club will look at buyouts this summer if they can’t move certain contracts out. Here are four possible buyout candidates for the 2023 offseason.
The Canucks signed Tyler Myers to a five-year deal with an annual average value of $6 million heading into the 2019-20 season. The blueliner will have one year remaining on his deal after this season. The organization has a few options on how to move Myers, including buying his contract out.
If the Canucks bought Myers out, he will leave the club with a cap hit of $5.333 million next season and a cap hit of $333,334 the following season. Therefore, they’d save $666,666 next season but would take on an additional cap hit of $333,334 in 2024-25. Buying out Myers doesn’t seem like the best option, especially when the Canucks have better methods to relieve themselves of his cap hit.
The Canucks could trade Myers, but he has a modified no-trade clause (M-NTC) and submitted a 10-team no-trade list on July 1, 2022. The M-NTC makes it somewhat difficult for the Canucks to move the 6-foot-8 defender as it shortens the list of teams that can target him. However, a rebuilding team not on his list can add him along with a sweetener this offseason, as they’ll only have to pay him $1 million in real money next season.
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The final and best option on how to deal with Myers’ contract is to wait out his final season and bury his contact in the minors. His cap hit will be close to $4.850 million if the Canucks decide to go that route. Keeping Myers and sending him down to the American Hockey League seems like the team’s best option, as it saves them more money than buying him out, and they don’t have to give up a draft pick or prospect in a trade to move him.
Tucker Poolman is another buyout candidate for the Canucks. The 29-year-old signed a four-year, $10 million deal before the 2021-22 season. However, throughout the first two seasons with the organization, he has struggled to stay healthy, which has been the story of his career. Through five NHL seasons, he has struggled to play a full season. This season, he’s played three games and has been on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) since October.
If the Canucks decide to buy Poolman out this offseason, it would cost the club $4 million. The buyout will apply over the next four seasons. In the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons, the cap hit will be $500,000, while in the 2025-26 and 2026-27 seasons, the cap hit will be $1 million. As a result, the Canucks would save $2 million in the first two seasons, while it’ll cost an additional $1 million in the final two. However, if the organization believes Poolman won’t return from injury, keeping him on LTIR is a better option and saves the team from having two additional seasons with a $1 million cap hit. If the organization believes the defenceman may attempt to play once again, then buying him out is the way to go.
The Canucks extended Brock Boeser to a three-year, $19.950 million deal before the 2022-23 season. The forward struggled to produce throughout the season, which has led to the organization giving his agent permission to find a trade partner for him. However, trading Boeser hasn’t been easy, as teams want the team to retain some of his salary. If the Canucks can’t trade him this offseason and still want to get rid of his contract, they could buy him out.
If the Canucks buy Boeser out of his contract, the club will have a cap hit of $2.217 million over the next four seasons. The organization would save $4.433 million in the first two years, and in the next two seasons, they’ll take on an additional $2.217 million on their books. Buying out Boeser might be a better option if the Canucks are asked to retain too much salary in a trade. However, losing the forward for nothing in return doesn’t seem like good asset management.
Conor Garland joined the Canucks after the organization traded for him and Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the 2021 offseason. He signed a five-year, $24.750 million deal after joining the team. Garland is another player the team has attempted to trade during the regular season. However, Garland’s play recently has improved under new head coach Rick Tocchet. If that increases his value in a trade or within the organization, then a buyout is unnecessary. However, if they’re unable to move him but want to free up cap space, they can look toward a buyout.
Related: Canucks 2022-23 Trade Wins & Losses
If the Canucks buy Garland out of his contract, the organization will have six years with his cap hit going against the salary cap. In the first two years, his cap hit will be $838,889, saving $4.111 million for the Canucks. In the third season, the Canucks will save $3.111 million, giving them a $1.839 million cap hit. In the final three seasons, the Canucks will have an additional $1.889 million cap hit. Buying Garland out doesn’t seem like the best option for the Canucks. His cap hit will remain for three additional seasons, while the organization can instead keep him and hope he continues to improve under Tocchet, potentially increasing his trade value as well.
Poolman is the Only Viable Buyout Option If Healthy
The Canucks have Myers, Poolman, Boeser and Garland as their best buyout candidates. Out of the four players, buying Poolman out is the best option, as there is still a chance he’ll attempt to return to play. Meanwhile, buying out Myers is the worst option, as the club can bury his contract in the minors. Buying Boeser out is a good last-resort option, but acquiring nothing in return for him is a tough pill to swallow. As for Garland, buying him out would lead to too many years with his cap hit remaining with the organization. It would be better to trade him or keep him and increase his value under Tocchet.
Although players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tanner Pearson are options as well, the Canucks can approach moving their contracts differently. A buyout with Ekman-Larsson will lead to a total of eight years with his cap hit instead of the next four. Instead, the club could hope to keep him on LTIR and hope he retires in the near future as his play continues to diminish. As for Pearson, he has one year remaining on his deal and is on LTIR. There is a chance he will remain on LTIR through his final year due to his complicated hand injury. Therefore, the four options mentioned are more likely.