Handing Loui Eriksson $36 million may have already backfired on the Vancouver Canucks, but should they look to swap it for another bad contract?
One year ago, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning signed Loui Eriksson to a six-year deal worth $36 million. The contract baffled many, but others thought it was worth adding a six-time 20-goal scorer.
The expectation was for Eriksson to form strong chemistry with Daniel and Henrik Sedin — especially when the trio of Swedes crushed it at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Eriksson was coming off a 30-goal, 63-point season for the Boston Bruins and figured to have plenty of scoring left in him.
Well, let’s just say his first unofficial goal as a Canuck was a sign of things to come for Eriksson in 2016-17:
In a frustration and injury-plagued season, Eriksson scored just 11 goals and 24 points. His strong defensive play wasn’t there, either. Eriksson owned just a 51.4 Corsi For percentage — three percent less than his career 54.5 percentage.
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So you get the idea — the Canucks are stuck with Eriksson for five more years. That is, of course, unless Eriksson is somehow able to turn his career fortunes around.
But as it stands now, the rebuilding Canucks carry a bad contract on their hands — one that Benning would probably like to shed.
Now, no team is going to happily take Eriksson off the Canucks’ hands. He’s 32 years of age, and the remaining five years will surely scare off 30 other general managers.
Benning only has one option here, and that would be to offer up Eriksson if the Canucks are willing to take back a bad contract in return. But would that be the right move for Benning? It’s tough to say.
If you click on the story above, you’ll see why I believe Eriksson is due for a bounce-back season. Okay, maybe Eriksson does have a couple of 20-30 goal seasons left in him. But the last two or three years of that contract will still hurt the Canucks salary cap situation.
With the Canucks needing to save up every penny of cap space to eventually pay all their young players in the future, Benning should try to trade Eriksson if there’s an appropriate proposal from another team.
See if the price is right
When looking at the worst contracts in the NHL, Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown comes to mind. But there’s no way Benning will want to swap Eriksson for a guy making $5.875 million for five more seasons — especially when Brown’s ceiling these days is 35-50 points.
Dion Phaneuf of the Ottawa Senators may be another option some consider, but $7 million a year for four more seasons? Not worth it — though Phaneuf actually is a solid top-four blueliner.
If there is a contract that makes sense, is that of Ryan Callahan‘s from the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s owed $5.8 million a season over the next three years. May as well see if Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is willing to make that swap.
Andrew MacDonald of the Philadelphia Flyers is under contract for three more seasons at $5 million per. He’s overpaid, but a solid stay-at-home defenceman. The Flyers love their scorers, so maybe general manager Ron Hextall would be in on a deal.
Don’t expect an Eriksson trade
The Canucks were able to get out of Roberto Luongo‘s and Jason Garrison‘s bad contracts, so some may cross their fingers that Benning is somehow able to find a taker for the remainder of Eriksson’s deal.
But given his age, injury history and lengthy term, Eriksson and his contract are among the NHL’s most immovable right now. We have seen crazier things happen in the NHL, but it’s tough to see another general manager helping out Benning.
At the end of the day, Vancouver will be holding onto Eriksson in hopes that he can discover his old form. So in case you were hoping they would get a deal done, don’t get too excited. Loui Eriksson will remain a part of the Vancouver Canucks for at least the next couple of years.
*All stats courtesy of Hockey Reference, and all contract details courtesy of CapFriendly.com*