Canucks: 4 players who should be moved for cap space

Vancouver Canucks Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Brandon Sutter of the Vancouver Canucks makes his way to the faceoff circle. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Brandon Sutter of the Vancouver Canucks makes his way to the faceoff circle. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

2. The time to trade Brandon Sutter is now

Contract status: $4.375 million AAV, 1 more year.

The contract extension Brandon Sutter received ahead of the 2016-17 NHL season never made sense to me. I suppose Benning had high hopes for the “elite penalty killer” with two 20-goal seasons under his belt, but his performance in Vancouver never panned out that way and in my opinion, he’s statistically never earned his salary.

For a third/fourth line player, $4+ million is outrageous. And sure, the Canucks maybe needed him at the time, but the offence never showed in his game and now the length of his contract is about to bite Benning where it hurts.

Luckily, Sutter somewhat was rejuvenated in the playoffs this year and proved he can still be a solid bottom-six player on a Stanley Cup contender. With only one year remaining on his deal, Benning might be able to swing a deal to the right team. It will likely take some salary retention or a sweetener to make the move official, but I say it’s more possible now than ever.

3. Buy out or trade Sven Baertschi

Contract status: $3.37 million AAV, 1 more year.

The bridge between the Canucks and Sven Baertschi has been torched. That much became evident this year when Travis Green dumped him to the minors and never gave him a real chance to play NHL hockey. It became crystal clear that Baertschi will never play a game for the Canucks again when he refused to report to the Edmonton Bubble. Never say never, but in this case, it’s highly unlikely he ever dresses for the Canucks again.

And I like Baertschi. He’s definitely an NHL player, but on the Canucks he just didn’t fit the system that Benning and Green were trying to build. Even when a trade was demanded, Benning couldn’t find a team willing to pull the trigger and that forced Baertschi is slum it out in the AHL. This year though, things might be different. Benning might have to be willing to add a sweetener or retain part of his salary.

His history of concussions wasn’t helping on the trade front last year, but Baertschi has played through that and shown at the AHL level that he can remain healthy. If Benning still can’t find the right fit with 50% retained, then he’ll have to buy him out. Baertschi just doesn’t have a role on this team anymore, not with a flat cap.

4. Antoine Roussel has to go

Contract status: $3 million AAV, 2 more years.

This is another contract that Benning should have never offered. Don’t get me wrong, Antoine Roussel is a good third-line player who can step up in a pinch and be an agitator on a nightly basis, but at the dollar figure he’s earning, that’s just too much for a player with his services.

Coming off knee surgery, Roussel potted 13 points in 41 games this year. He was a good linemate and mentor for the young gunner Adam Gaudette, but he gradually slowed down as the year went on and sometimes couldn’t keep up to the opposition.

He brings a cannon of energy and grit but is almost 31-years-old. It isn’t too late for Benning to find him a new home, it just might require the Canucks to retain some salary because of the remaining term to his contract. The one positive about that is he’s owed less money than his AAV.

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Benning won’t be able to put the phone down in the coming weeks and it’s on him to make this team work for next year. The Canucks fans got a taste of playoff hockey for the first time in five years and that expectation level will only rise from here on out. Keep your eyes on The Canuck Way for everything that happens this offseason.