Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet with its own ironman streak.
With training camp maybe a month away — and possibly much longer — the Vancouver Canucks’ roster is starting to look settled. Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, and Josh Leivo have all gone to Calgary, and Tyler Toffoli and Troy Stecher are gone, too. Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt have arrived to replace them and all of the team’s notable RFAs have now been re-upped.
There’s just one problem: as it stands, the Canucks are more than a million-and-a-half over the salary cap.
Obviously, any such issues go away the moment Micheal Ferland hits the LTIR again, but all indications are he’s not ready to pack it in quite yet and plans to show up for training camp. That means that Jim Benning and Co. will need to have a “Plan B” that could well become “Plan A” before the 2021 season begins, and for that we’re turning to you. Will it be demotions, trades, trades with retention, or something else entirely?
That’s right, this week we’re asking you to bust out the calculators and the PuckPedia spreadsheets, because we’re asking you:
What moves would you make to get the Canucks cap compliant before 2021?
(Without Micheal Ferland on LTIR, specifically)
What do you think the Canucks’ new defensive pairings should be?
Your responses are below!
Hughes – Myers
Edler – Schmidt
Juolevi/Rathbone – Benn
I hope the young defensemen are able to take the reins, though, and move up higher in the depth chart. By next season, if not sooner, Juolevi or Rathbone will hopefully be in the top-four.
Beer Can Boyd:
No chance Green can be happy about having to play five left shot D out of six. He talked about the drawbacks to that a few times during the Vegas series. I still think they find a way to sign Hamonic or someone like him.
Hughes – Schmidt
Edler – Myers
Juolevi – Vatanen
Of course, only if we can offload a Sutter/ Eriksson/ Beagle contract to afford Vatanen for two years.
It’s about 5-6 as the top-four is a lock.
Benning has said: “Juolevi looks like he is ready to play in the NHL full-time.”
Benn is capable of playing the right side, but we know he’s depth.
Don’t know how high they are on Rafferty to play two rookies together, albeit mature rookies.
Could be another RD added to round out the top-six.
History has shown during a full 82 game season plus playoffs will require 8-12 defensemen. A shorter season should require a few fewer than normal. I suggest Benning is not done tweaking the opening day roster, and will be adding a #5-6 Right side D-man before long. Hamonic may be the guy coming in.
Opportunity is coming this year for Rafferty, Juolevi, Rathbone , and maybe Chatfield. As it stands now, I see Hughes/ Schmidt, Juolevi/ Myres, and Edler/ Rafferty as pairings to start at even strength; special teams will see more of the veterans. I see Benn as #7 until another addition is made. Benning wants to see his young prospects move into the lineup and I believe we see it this year on the blueline.
Impossible to designate D pairings at this time because Benning still needs a RHD who can play immediately, and don’t honestly know who this will be or how Green can operate with 5 LHS Ds. I played defence for 24 years in hockey, and playing your off-side doesn’t really work all that well, if at all, despite these guys being elite pros. Contracts would still be have to moved out to facilitate this process and, again, no one wants the usual bottom-six suspects everyone fantasizes about being moved out. But they did cancel Keeping up with the Kardashians, so there is hope.
It seems to me that the Canucks have to make more changes to meet the cap, so it may be too early to figure out the lineup. CapFriendly shows them being $1.5 million over the cap presently, but doesn’t include the $1.7 million in deferred bonuses from Pettersson and Hughes 2019-20 season, so they are really $3.2 million over. That’s with fifteen forwards and only six defencemen.
(Author’s note: That total does include the bonus overage!)
Getting relief if Ferland is on the IR long-term, which is likely, helps after the opening day of the season, but leaves the problem of getting past opening day (when the team has to get down to $81.5 million, with Ferland included) and paying the deferred bonuses as the relief only offsets current season pay, not bonuses deferred from previous seasons.
There’s little point in trying to speculate what moves the Canucks will make to fall under the salary cap, but as things stand presently there’s no room to add a mid-priced additional RHD.
If the defensemen available to the Canucks stay the same, then the top-four are already decided, though not who will play with whom. I’m guessing we see Hughes-Schmidt as a top-pair playing a high number of minutes with Edler-Myers as the second pair, but Hughes-Myers and Edler-Schmidt would also get a look.
Benn will almost certainly get a roster spot leaving a competition for two roster spots between Benn, Rathbone, Rafferty, Sautner, and Juolevi. (Brisebois and Chatfield, both presently unsigned, are sometimes mentioned but IMO won’t make the club when everyone is healthy.) Whatever combination outside the top-four does best in the preseason will form what would probably form a little-used third pair which would likely struggle defensively. My guess is that the Canucks would try Juolevi-Benn, but they’re likely to juggle depending on who is healthy and what combinations are working.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
I really don’t think Green knows what the D-pairings will be next season. I expect we will see some mixing in the first ten games looking for the right combo. I also think Green will use different pairings for different matchups.
Hughes cheats to the offensive side of the puck a lot. He should (although maybe a little less). To be his most effective, he needs a partner who makes very quick defensive reads. Tanev was great, but I think Schmidt could be better as his speed covers the gaps quicker. With Schmidt the pairing can be better against faster top lines. Edler and Myers are an adequate pairing. We will definitely see some of Hughes-Myers when Green wants to put Edler-Schmidt against a particularly dangerous line. Playing behind Horvat and Pearson, that is a very good shutdown line-up.
The third pairing is completely up for grabs. Coaches and management obviously believe at least one of the rookies is ready for prime-time. I expect the third pairing will settle at Juolevi-Rafferty; Rathbone, Chatfield and Sautner will get some call-ups and Benn will be a versatile veteran seventh D-man.
The play of the rookies will determine if the D-corps is better than last year or not.
I think the pairings end up like this:
I believe Hughes’ underlying numbers were better with Myers than Tanev, and Myers always performs better with better partners. OJ hopefully will win the third pairing. While not flashy, he is steady and will take PK time from Edler, keeping injuries down.