If the NHL were to grant teams one or two compliance buyouts, which players would the Vancouver Canucks look to move on from?
The 2019-20 NHL season has been suspended for almost four weeks now, and the Vancouver Canucks have more time to think over their plans for the offseason.
If the season is canceled, it’s hard to imagine the NHL increasing its salary cap for the 2020-21 campaign. The league would have to find some alternatives to accommodate teams who will be hit hard with cap woes this offseason.
In a previous interview with Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now (h/t Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal), Sportsnet analyst and former NHL general manager Brian Burke said he’s “heard discussion of compliance buyouts to help teams get to this new cap, to solve some of their problems.”
You may recall that in the last CBA, teams were granted two “compliance buyouts.” The clubs could simply buy out the contracts of two players, which wouldn’t count against the salary cap. Vancouver used those on forward David Booth and blueliner Keith Ballard.
If the league were to give teams one or two compliance buyouts? General manager Jim Benning wouldn’t think twice about using them.
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He would definitely look to buy out the final two years of Loui Eriksson‘s contract. The soon-to-be 35-year-old signed a six-year, $36 million contract in the 2016 offseason. He has 89 points in 245 games with Vancouver.
Eriksson has voiced his frustration with head coach Travis Green, so he might not necessarily be against the idea of a compliance buyout. The Canucks would pay him what he’s owed, and Eriksson would get a fresh start before the end of his career..
If teams were handed two compliance buyouts? Eriksson would be one option. Perhaps Benning would use the second on veteran Jay Beagle, who signed a four-year pact worth $12 million two offseasons ago.
Not exactly known for his offence, Beagle has been a leader and a hard-checking forward for the Canucks. But his age (35 in October) and recent injury (he missed 25 games last season) shouldn’t be ignored. If Benning can clear Beagle’s $3 million cap hit for 2020-21 and 2021-22, he may do just that.
Brandon Sutter has one year left on his deal with a $4.375 million cap hit. If Benning values Beagle more than the injury-prone Sutter, the former might decide to keep Beagle over the 31-year-old.
Antoine Roussel also carries a $3 million cap hit for two more seasons, but he’s younger than Beagle and contributes more offensively. I can’t imagine Benning using it on a veteran who’s especially well liked among his teammates.
The league hasn’t made a final decision on the 2019-20 season yet. But if it is canceled, and if they introduce compliance buyouts, Vancouver has to take advantage of this opportunity. Giving Eriksson and/or another veteran forward a fresh start while creating much-needed cap space would go a long way.