Both the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers have virtually unmovable contracts, but it makes sense for the two division rivals to do business.
The Vancouver Canucks aren’t facing a salary cap crunch yet, but there’s little doubting that general manager Jim Benning would like to unload some of his more expensive contracts.
It would start with forward Loui Eriksson, who is now halfway through a six-year, $36 million contract. The 33-year-old carries a $6 million cap hit for the remaining three more years, so there’s practically no value for Eriksson on the trade market.
Benning should also try to move out oft-injured centre Brandon Sutter — signed or two more years at a cap hit of $4.375 million. But unless he takes back a similar contract in return, Benning is probably stuck with Sutter.
The Edmonton Oilers happen to be in a similar situation, as Sportsnet’s Mark Spector detailed. They have too many bad contracts on their hands, and it would make perfect sense to swap some of them out for comparable players who carry similar contracts, as Spector pointed out
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Edmonton’s next general manager would love to move out the final four years of Milan Lucic‘s deal, which carries a $6 million cap hit. Blueliners Andrej Sekera (two more years at $5.5 million per), Kris Russell (two more years at $4 million) and Adam Larsson (a $4.166 million cap hit for two more years), are also players the Oilers would certainly prefer to move out.
Well, an Eriksson-for-Lucic swap would be bold on both sides, but if the Oilers ate some of the salary or gave Vancouver an extra pick, I wouldn’t complain. Plus, Lucic is a B.C. kid and might find success playing with Bo Horvat.
But if I’m Benning, I’d even consider offering Eriksson for two of Russel, Sekera and Larsson. Why? Because maybe the Oilers would add an extra pick or roster player if Vancouver offers to exchange one contract for two.
Not only that, but the Canucks need more depth on their blue line. Derrick Pouliot is a goner, and Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton face uncertain futures in Vancouver. Maybe Larsson — a good skater — would shine in a top four role here. Russell is a shot blocking guru and could help clean up Vancouver’s defensive play. Ditto for Sekera.
Otherwise, the alternatives are either 1) for the Canucks and Oilers to either try swapping these players elsewhere or 2) hold onto the players and just accept they’re stuck paying them out.
But the Canucks could use any of Sekera, Larsson and Russell. I’d swap Eriksson for Lucic if Edmonton is taking back some of the money and/or adding one more sweetener. And maybe Sutter and Eriksson produce more with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
It sounds crazy folks, I know. But why should the Canucks bother keeping players that have worn out their welcome here? Edmonton in the same boat here, and that’s why the two Pacific Division rivals are ideal trade partners.
We’ll see if the Canucks and Oilers are bold enough to make a trade like this, but the good would certainly outweigh the bad — which is why they should strongly consider doing business together.