Yes, it is a little early and the Vancouver Canucks still have 13 games left to go in the season. There is also a small chance that they could make the playoffs.
However, those playoff odds took another blow in the 4-3 loss to the St.Louis Blues. As a result, the Canucks playoff odds plummeted to 3% according to a model from The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn. The Canucks would basically have to go 11-2 to sneak into the playoffs. It is a possible but very daunting task.
Cue Jim Mora’s famous “Playoffs?!” rant. The Dallas Stars win over Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. That puts them six points ahead of the Canucks for the final wild-card spot and they have three games in hand. It’s pretty much over.
So with the playoffs out of reach let’s look ahead into the offseason. It will be the first for Jim Rutherford, Patrik Allvin and the rest of the new management team. It will be no cakewalk, however. The Canucks don’t have a lot of cap space or much in the prospect pool so it will be up to Allvin and company to get those back.
No matter what happens in the final 13 games of the season, it feels inevitable that the team we will see at training camp in September will look much different than the team we are seeing right now.
“It’s not only to create cap space, you want to make sure that you’re looking at the bigger picture, how you built the team, what do you want to accomplish,” said Allvin after the trade deadline which saw Tyler Motte being the only roster player to have left.
Before the deadline, players such as J.T. Miller, Conor Garland and Brock Boeser have been rumoured to be on the move. They are still Canucks but this summer one, two or all three of them might be on different teams. The Canucks got their feet wet at the trade deadline and in the offseason, it will be time to take the deep dive.
Other than Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko, pretty much anyone could be up for sale this summer and they can be shipped off for draft picks, prospects and young and promising NHLers.
“We have a foundation here to build a team,” said Rutherford in a recent NHL.Com article about the diversity of the Canucks front office. “Our goal is to build it into a contender, just like everybody else. To start with, we have to unravel some things to build it toward where we want to build it. And long term is to win a Cup.”
As mentioned before, fans are going to have a tough time digesting these decisions but they have to be made to benefit the future of the team. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and you refuse to eat vegetables because of how they taste and your parents say they are good for you and you have no choice but to eat them. If a player like Boeser or Miller gets traded this summer for picks and prospects and it frees up cap space, it will make a lot of fans upset and some will refuse to accept the trade but in the end, it is good for the team. The vegetable analogy is strange, yes, but you get the idea.
There are a lot of contracts that can be moved to clear cap space which should be Vancouver’s first priority. Take Tyler Myers, Tanner Pearson, Jason Dickinson and Tucker Poolman for example. Forget about moving Oliver Ekman-Larsson and his massive contract, he’s not going anywhere, unfortunately. While it is a tough task to move these contracts, the Canucks did move Travis Hamonic for a third-round pick and did not retain any salary. That gives some hope someone like Myers or Dickinson could get good assets back.
Miller is a UFA in 2023 and the Canucks probably could start talking to him about an extension. He is going to want a massive raise and if the two sides can’t agree to an extension, they might as well trade him. If the Canucks are in a playoff spot at the trade deadline next year, they will be in a tough spot. They can’t trade him if he’s doing well and it would suck to let him walk for nothing. They might as well trade him in the summer for a haul
Boeser’s 7.5 million dollar qualifying offer is a risky one. While he can score goals, it has been inconsistent and yes, there is still room to grow but the Canucks might want to trade Boeser for a young right-handed defenceman. Guys like John Marino of the Pittsburgh Penguins and LA Kings prospect Brock Faber come to mind.
Garland has been struggling lately after a good start to the season. What if management doesn’t see the fit? The feisty middle-six winger could get offers from several teams.
Allvin and Rutherford did not acquire these players (except Dermott and Brad Richardson but he will be a UFA) so they can make as many changes to the team as they want to.
With the playoff hopes on life support, we could see the biggest offseason in Vancouver in a long time. No, that doesn’t mean the Canucks will become a cup contender next year but if Rutherford and Allvin do as they say they would, then it would be a big step in getting there.