GM Jim Benning met with the media today to discuss cap recapture, free agency and roster decisions.

Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo made the decision to retire Wednesday with three years remaining on his contract with the Panthers. Since the Canucks signed Luongo to a 12-year back-diving contract in 2009 where the salary is heavily frontloaded, the Canucks will be penalized $3.03 million against the cap for each of the next three seasons. The contract was legal at the time, but a cap recapture penalty was added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement after the 2013 lockout. The Canucks are unfortunately getting hit with the second and largest salary cap recapture penalty in NHL history.

Benning explained the Canucks were given a heads up to prepare for Luongo’s retirement.

“The NHL kind of let us know a week ago that this could happen. We planned that if this happened we’d have the cap space available, and we do. It’s not the best situation for us, but it’s something that we knew could happen. Looking at the bright side of it, it’s better to happen now that two years from now when it’s an $8M-plus cap hit. The rules are the rules and that’s just the way it is.”

Benning was also asked if he tried to appeal and if he was frustrated by the penalty.

“We talked to the league. The rules are in there for a reason. There isn’t much we can do. It’s frustrating. We knew it could happen and we planned accordingly.”

Utica Comets

Benning says the Canucks are currently looking at all their options for the Canucks and down in Utica. He makes it seem like the Canucks will be adding a few depth guys for Utica in the case they need to call up a few centeremen this season.

“We’re going through that this week in free agency. We’re hoping to add a couple guys.”

Roster Moves

The team recently extended qualifying offers to eight players, including Brocker Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin and Josh Leivo. The Canucks didn’t opt to qualify Ben Hutton, Derrick Pouliot and Markus Granlund.

Benning was asked if the Canucks are close to signing any of the eight players they recently extended qualifying offers to.

“No, I wouldn’t say we’re close, but we’re in contact with some of them.”

One big question has been what led the Canucks to elect not to re-sign 26-year-old Hutton. Benning makes it apparent that it was not an easy decision.

“He’s been a good player for us the last couple of years. We talked to his agent and him through the whole process. He understood where we were coming from. We’re gonna continue to talk to them to see if there’s some middle ground so we can figure it out.”

Brock Boeser

Benning was also asked if he has an update on Boeser, who is the most important player the Canucks need to sign. He said he has no Boser update, as the Canucks have been busy with the draft and preparing for free agency ahead of July 1st.

Free Agency

When talking about his plan for this upcoming free agency period, Benning makes it sound like it will be quite different than last year’s approach for the Canucks. The team decided to sign Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller last summer.

“I think last year with the Sedins not coming back, we were going to go with young players in skilled positions and we wanted to kind of support them with character players and some guys that can kill penalties. That’s why we signed the players that we did. Now I think we’re in a different spot so if we sign players in free agency it’s going to be with the intent that we think they’re top-four defenseman or top-six forwards.”

It’s going to be a competitive free agent market starting July 1st, but Benning believes Vancouver is now an enticing place to play for free agents and potential trade candidates.

“I think the thing we do have going for us is players see our team kind of transformed last year with our young players. I’m getting the feel through free agency that players want to come out and be part of our group moving forward, where I don’t know if that was necessarily the case before.”

Of course, one of the biggest things surrounding the Canucks is the Tyler Myer rumours. The free agent blueliner met with the Canucks in Vancouver this week.

“I’m not going to comment on other team’s players at this point. We’re going to go through the free agency period. We’re going to see July 1st who we’re going to sign and then I can comment on that.”

Is Benning going to make a trade?

“I’m talking to teams still. Still trying to figure that out.”

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for the Canucks, and with free agency right around the corner, the offseason is just beginning.