The Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft will be held on July 21st, and the Vancouver Canucks will have to decide who they want to protect. The Canucks will have two options on which players they will be allowed to protect. The two options are either seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender, or a total of eight forwards and defencemen and one goalie. Tyler Myers is one of the defencemen the team will likely consider protecting, but they are better off not doing so.
Leaving him unprotected is a win-win situation because if the team leaves him unprotected, they can protect a young defenceman instead. Additionally, the chances of losing Myers are 50/50 as he is an ageing defenceman with a high cap hit. Therefore, either the Canucks lose a veteran defenceman with a high cap hit and create some much-needed cap space, or Seattle decides to take another player, which leads to the 31-year-old staying and another young defender staying as well.
Guaranteed Protected Players
The Canucks will likely protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie. The forwards on the team’s protection list will likely include Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, Tanner Pearson, Elias Pettersson, Jonah Gadjovich, and Kole Lind, while Thatcher Demko is a lock to be the only protected goalie.
On defence, the team has an option to protect younger players while allowing the Myers to go unprotected. The Canucks could protect Nate Schmidt, who the team traded a 2022 third-round pick for last offseason, as he is only 29, and the club values his versatility as a two-way player and his ability to play on the left or the right side of the blueline. Meanwhile, young defencemen in Olli Juolevi and Brogan Rafferty should be considered as options. Also, Madison Bowey is another option, although he hasn’t been with the club for long, he is still a 26-year-old right defenceman.
Canucks Could Unload Myers’ Contract
Myers signed a five-year, $30 million deal in 2019. Two years into his contract, the $6 million cap hit seems a bit too high. He will be 32 mid-way through next season, and it is very likely his play will not improve as he ages. Therefore, attempting to unload his contract now would be smart.
The Canucks could unload his contract by first attempting a trade, but if teams aren’t willing to take Myers’ high cap hit, Jim Benning and co. should avoid protecting the veteran defenceman in the upcoming draft. Losing Myers would free up $6 million in the next three seasons, which is needed for the club as they will be in a cap crunch once they extend their two cornerstone players, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.
Add Players to Improve With Additional Cap Space
Losing Myers will hurt the Canucks since they don’t have many right-handed defencemen. Though the team could use Schmidt on the right side, there isn’t much depth. They can re-sign Travis Hamonic and promote younger defenders in Bowey and Rafferty to add depth, but Myers does bring a veteran presence.
Though Myers does provide a veteran presence, with the additional cap space provided by his exit, the Canucks can go out and sign another veteran defenceman that will improve the team’s blueline. A notable name that will vastly improve the blueline is Dougie Hamilton.
The Canucks can free up cap space by losing Myers in the Expansion Draft and buying out one of their forwards, potentially Antoine Roussel. Hamilton will likely receive an impressive contract since he finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting. Adding a player like Hamilton would do wonders for the Canucks next season. Otherwise, they can look at other right-handed defencemen.
Tyson Barrie is coming off a 48 point season, and the Canucks have been interested in him before. He is a better offensive defenceman than Myers, who hasn’t surpassed the 40 point mark since his rookie season in 2009-10. Since joining the Canucks, Myers has posted 21 points through 68 games in the 2019-20 season and 21 points in 55 games in the 2020-21 season. Meanwhile, Barrie has posted 35+ points every season other than his rookie season in 2012-13. The Victoria, B.C. native would be a welcomed addition to the blueline.
Risking Losing Myers Could Be Worth It
Leaving Myers unprotected will be a risky move for the Canucks if they lose him and are unable to replace him. Still, they can benefit from leaving him unprotected.
Either Seattle adds Myers, which leads to additional cap space and a shot at adding an elite offensive right-handed defencemen in Hamilton or Barrie, or they select someone else, and the Canucks protect a young d-man and keep the veteran defender. Leaving Myers unprotected is a risk the Canucks should think of taking.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.