Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning is looking for left-wing help to support Sven Baertschi. While nothing else seems to work out, Arizona’s Tobias Rieder looks like an interesting target.
The main targets of recent left-wing speculations for the Vancouver Canucks are free agent Jiri Hudler as well as Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Scott Hartnell. But what about Tobias Rieder?
Rieder, a 23-year-old winger from Germany, was acquired by the Arizona Coyotes from the Edmonton Oilers in 2013. The Yotes didn’t waste any time before they signed him to an entry-level contract and after a year in the AHL, Rieder was ready for the big club. He now has 154 NHL games under his belt and set career highs in goals (14) and assists (23) last season.
Surprisingly, the Coyotes seem to be in no rush to lock Rieder, now a restricted free agent, up for more. The two parties are reportedly nowhere close to agreeing to a new contract.
From Arizona Sports:
"Rieder’s agent, Darren Ferris, continues to assert that the two sides are not close to a deal, with a significant difference of opinion on what Rieder is worth. Ferris said he has some strong interest from European and KHL clubs, and he also intimated on Friday that Rieder could receive an offer sheet from another NHL team."
Rieder is currently in Germany, attending a summer camp of the national team, and confirmed the KHL interest to German outlet Hockeyweb: “my agents look at all offers, the KHL would be an option as well.”
Seriously, the KHL? He might as well come to Vancouver before that happens.
Rieder wouldn’t be the veteran presence the Canucks are seeking, but he is something like another Baertschi, which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. The 5-foot-11 winger can play at center and on both wings, move up and down the lineup, eat minutes on the penalty kill and present a threat on the power play.
In 2015-16, Rieder led the Coyotes, a terrible possession team overall, in Corsi for per 60 at 56.61. His relative Corsi for per 60 was 6.24 and, along with better Corsi against numbers than his team mates, that leads to a relative Corsi for percentage of 3.2 percent.
Coming off his $2.8 million entry-level contract, Rieder will be looking for a nice raise on his $925,000 annual average. But what would be reasonable and why are Rieder and the Coyotes so far away from agreeing on a deal?
I called Rieder “something like another Baertschi”, so Baertschi’s contract would technically be a good comparison. Baertschi’s fresh two-year deal has an annual average of $1.85 million. Another comparable player by age and point production is Tanner Pearson of the Los Angeles Kings, who has a cap hit of $1.3 million. However, both can be considered bargains.
Chances are, Rieder is asking for more than that. One interesting player to watch is Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov. He, too, is comparable in age and output and is scheduled for arbitration for July 29 this year.
If we just assume the Canucks and Rieder could agree to a reasonable deal, say, two years at $2.2 million, they still have to acquire him. Rieder is an RFA, so there are two options: a trade and an offer sheet.
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Offer sheets are very rare, and they are rarely successful. But let’s take a look at the draft pick compensations anyway. For an offer sheet between $1,877,615 and $3,755,233, teams would have to give up a second-round pick. Whether Rieder gets $1.9 million or $2.7 million, he will most likely end up in that range.
If he asks for anything more than that, the Canucks should probably steer clear from him and he can go to the KHL or wherever else he wants to go.
If he does end up in that range, though, the Coyotes would likely match the offer. They might not want to pay him $2.5 million, but I would think they rather keep Rieder at $2.5 million than lose him for a second-round pick.
That, unfortunately, only leaves us with a trade. But what could the Coyotes be interested in? Would they rather have Luca Sbisa at $3.6 million than Rieder at $2.5 million? Unlikely.
Other than that, the Canucks don’t have that much to offer. Trading someone like Jannik Hansen doesn’t make sense if it is done in an attempt to improve the top six. Neither does trading someone like Emerson Etem, and he probably isn’t what it takes either. Brendan Gaunce might get close to fair value in the future, but he needs a full season in the NHL to prove that first.
Which takes us back to a frequently asked question: does trading prospects and/or draft picks make sense? Would the Coyotes be interested in someone like Guillaume Brisebois or Jordan Subban? What Vancouver have to add?
You see, trading is a tough task for the Canucks these days.
Tobias Rieder would be a great fit. He can play literally anywhere in the lineup, including the power play and penalty kill. He also won’t get mad if he has to sit in the press box for a game or two, when the Canucks want to rotate different players in and out of the lineup. Rieder is the hockey definition of a Swiss Army Knife.
But, as outlined above, acquiring him will be really hard. If the Canucks could agree to terms with him, they could go for the offer sheet. But actually landing him that way seems highly unlikely.
A trade, however, won’t be easy either. If the only way to acquire Rieder is to send prospects to Arizona, it could hurt the rebuilding process. The Canucks already lost an extremely talented scoring left winger in Hunter Shinkaruk to add a young NHL bottom-six player in Markus Granlund.
Rieder would be a great fit in Vancouver, and the Canucks should at least call the Coyotes about him.