Vancouver Canucks should utilize their cap space for the rebuild

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5: Brendan Gaunce
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5: Brendan Gaunce /

If you think the Vancouver Canucks should utilize their remaining cap space to seek out more free agents, you are wrong.

The Vancouver Canucks signed five free agents on July 1st, committing $22 million dollars to them over the next three years. For this upcoming season, these five free agents will earn a little less than $10 million combined.

That leaves Vancouver with $9.5 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. Of course, the Canucks still have four RFAs of significance to sign in Bo Horvat, Reid Boucher, Michael Chaput, and Brendan Gaunce.

At this point, it is hard to see Chaput fitting in with the Canucks, especially with the Alex Burmistrov signing. The same could be said for Gaunce as both he and Burmistrov play a sound two-way game with similar offensive upside.

One could argue that Burmistrov has a little more proven offensive upside after posting 14 points in 26 games with the Arizona Coyotes this past season. That is a pace for 44 points in a full season of 82 games.

With 20-year-old Adam Gaudette in the NCAA developing into a fine two-way pivot, there may no longer be a place for Gaunce, at least not down the middle.

Bottom line, the Canucks may only end up keeping Horvat and Boucher, which should take no more than $7 million off the books. The way CapFriendly has it outlined, that would account for 24 roster players so the Canucks would have to demote at least one player to the AHL provided everything else stays.

The result? At least $3 million in cap space.

Taking on a bad contract or retaining salary for a greater trade return?

It may not seem like much but a $3 million cap cushion could do wonders. The Canucks have no reason to spend that on another free agent since the lineup is already overflowing with competition.

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If there is a trade, however, for a burdensome contract for an inactive player? The Canucks should be all ears.

Also, if there is a trade (involving perhaps a Chris Tanev or an Erik Gudbranson), the Canucks should look to retain salary to maximize their return. Since Vancouver is retaining salary for Jannik Hansen and Roberto Luongo for the coming season, the team is able to retain only one more salary this way.

To take it one step further, the Canucks could take on dead salary for the next two years if they are daring enough. With Henrik and Daniel Sedin both coming off their $7-million-per-year contracts and likely having to settle for a little less each, next season for the Canucks could also see the team with cap space to spare.

Whether it be taking on a bad contract for a pick or a prospect, or retaining salary in a trade involving one of their own players, the Canucks should use the cap flexibility to their advantage.

As for the timing of such move, teams looking to shed salary to sign more free agents before the season will entertain the thought of moving their bad contracts out right now.

Next: Projecting Bo Horvat's Extension

Another option could be waiting until the trade deadline to flip one of Vancouver’s players as a rental option for the playoffs, retaining salary to allow their trade partner to fit under the salary cap in March.