The Vancouver Canucks need to move out a forward in order to clear cap space and room on their roster. So who’s the odd man out?
It’s hard to complain about this signing, because Ferland is a capable top six forward, and he came at an extremely reasonable price. He scored 17 goals and 40 goals for the Carolina Hurricanes this past season — a year after talying 21 goals and 41 points for the Calgary Flames.
But the signing of Ferland came as a surprise to many, since the Canucks have little cap space remaining to re-sign Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin — and the fact that they face a logjam at forward.
The Canucks now have 16 forwards on their main roster, although Benning doesn’t seem concerned about clearing out roster space.
“The off-season is not over yet,” Benning said Thursday, via Patrick Johnston of the Vancouver Province. “Still having lots of conversations with teams. Whether we move money or not, we have a plan in place.”
Benning has got to trade a forward now, and it should be a veteran with at least two years remaining on his contract. Loui Eriksson would be the leading candidate if his contract wasn’t so hard to move out. The Canucks probably have to keep him for the time being or send him to the Utica Comets.
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Sven Baertschi is another candidate, although the Canucks might prefer to hold onto the 26-year-old since he’s a capable 20-goal scorer when healthy. No way they move out Tanner Pearson, who fit in nicely with Bo Horvat after coming over from the Pittsburgh Penguins via trade.
Jay Beagle has three years left on his deal, but he proved to be a valuable leader and penalty killer for the Canucks. Even if there is interest on the market, Benning might wish to retain Beagle for the playoff push.
That probably leaves 30-year-old forward Brandon Sutter as the best candidate to be traded. Per CapFriendly, Sutter has two years left on his contract with a cap hit of $4.375 million to trade. It’s not a great contract, but Sutter can provide some value.
If he’s healthy, Sutter is a threat to hit 20-goals (he’s done so twice, plus two 17-goal seasons). Sutter is also a useful two-way player and penalty killer. He’d be a nice fit for a team that’s looking to upgrade its third line. Sutter just isn’t a fit on a Vancouver team that’s upgraded its bottom six over the past two offseasons.
Sutter missed 62 games in 2015-16, 21 in 2017-18 and 56 this past season. The injury history will limit his value on the trade market, but there should be a handful of teams interested in a quality defensive forward with the ability to score 20 goals and 30 to 40 points.
The Columbus Blue Jackets could use more offense after losing their star players in free agency. Maybe the Carolina Hurricanes are interested in a reunion with Sutter. Loaded with cap space, the rebuilding Ottawa Senators could use a veteran like Sutter to mentor the youth.
Add it all up, and the guess here is that Sutter is the odd man out in Vancouver. With two years left on his deal, moving out Sutter provides more flexibility for the front office. And of course, he’d provide more value on the ice than Eriksson — making Sutter the more likely to be traded.