This week, we acknowledge the impact of Baertschi and Horvat’s injuries, give our thoughts on the Subban trade, and speculate on Alex Burmistrov’s future. We also look at how next year’s salary cap jump affects the Canucks moving forward.
Salary cap increase opens up flexibility
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with reporters Friday following a board of governor’s meeting to state that next year’s salary cap would increase from 75 million to 78-82 million next year.
While it’s a huge help for teams facing a cap crunch like the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s a little less clear when it comes to how it affects the Canucks.
Given next year’s increase, we can estimate that the Canucks will have anywhere from $32-36 million dollars in cap space. That amount doesn’t include any potential extensions for key UFA and RFAs like the Sedins, Sven Baertschi, Troy Stecher, Derrick Pouliot, Erik Gudbranson, Markus Granlund, Jake Virtanen, and Thomas Vanek.
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Assuming the Sedins and Gudbranson re-sign, and that all RFAs are signed, we can guess that the Canucks might have roughly $6.8-10.8 million in cap space; with the potential for increased space if either the Sedins or Gudbranson leave the team.
This flexibility opens up the possibility for trades in which the Canucks pick up future assets as compensation for taking on a bad contract. A recent example of such a trade is when the Hurricanes took on Bryan Bickell and his contract, for Teuvo Teräväinen.
The only potential stipulation is that the salary cap increase might actually nullify the need that other teams might have to move tough contracts. Furthermore, the increase could actually benefit a team in the Pacific division like the Oilers long-term far more than the Canucks.
Tank is back on the menu
After a strong start to the season, the Canucks have come back down to Earth- winless in six of their last eight games. In the same time period, the Canucks have dropped from 3rd in the division to 20th overall in the league.
Further adding to the misery is the news that both Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi are out long-term. Horvat suffered a fractured foot and is out for up to six weeks; while the latter is out 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw.
For a Vancouver offence ranked 26th in goals per game, losing their second and third highest scorers is a huge blow. It means even more pressure for leading scorer Brock Boeser, who is singlehandedly carrying the sputtering offence.
While Boeser continues to produce, he may hit a wall soon without Horvat.
With the Canucks entering their toughest part of the schedule in December and January, things couldn’t be looking any bleaker.
Burmistrov on the block?
Signed to a one year, 900K deal in July, Alex Burmistrov has registered just 5 points in 18 games this season. The bigger issue, however, is how he’s fit in with Travis Green. Despite multiple injuries to the forward corpse, the 26-year-old Russian has found himself averaging just 11:51 per game.
It now appears that the limited ice time and frequent press box visits might be ruffling a few feathers within the Burmistrov camp.
Rick Dhaliwal isn’t the first source to tackle Burmistrov rumours either, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting that the Canucks might be looking to move on from the Russian in a recent article.
Moving forward, I don’t feel inclined to believe that this situation will improve. With all these injuries up front, Burmistrov has seen players like Michael Chaput, Nic Dowd, and Nikolay Goldobin enter the fray as forward options. When guys like Baertschi, Horvat, and Sutter eventually return, I simply don’t see a spot for Burmistrov in the starting lineup.
Subban off to LA
In an effort to address the team’s lack of depth up the middle, the Canucks traded Jordan Subban to the Kings in exchange for Nic Dowd on Thursday.
If you asked me a year ago, I might have actually cared about this trade. Unfortunately for Subban though, he’s failed to take the next step this year as a pro defender.
An offensively gifted blueliner, Subban has been notorious for porous positioning and defence even by AHL standards. The 22-year-old has also seen a dip in offensive production; with just 5 assists in 16 games.
As for the return, I’m indifferent to Nic Dowd. He’s a depth forward that likely won’t be wearing a Canucks uniform as early as next season. If it weren’t for injuries to Brandon Sutter and Bo Horvat, we may not have even seen this trade materialize at all.
More importantly though, the Subban trade opens up ice time down in Utica. Prospects like Guillaume Brisebois and Jalen Chatfield will be expected to take on a bigger role in their first professional seasons.
At the end of the day, this trade will most likely be a wash. Neither player has a good chance of sticking(or in Subban’s case even making) an NHL lineup long-term.