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It’s no secret that the Vancouver Canucks are extremely cap-strapped going into the 2019-20 season. In addition to lack of space, they have two forwards that still need new contracts before they even start training camp.

Both Nikolay Goldobin and Brock Boeser played up in the lineup last year and both are restricted free agents heading into August. One is obviously much more important to the team — Boeser is destined to be part of the core when this team is more successful than they have been in recent memory.

With the path laid out for the 22-year-old winger, he still needs a new contract and with all the restricted free agency drama around the league currently, Boeser’s situation seems to be quiet as of late.

Reports trickled out early this month that the two parties inching closer to a deal, but since then, there has been nothing of substance. But it’s essentially a problem with how much cap space is remaining for the all-star winger to be signed.

Currently, the Canucks are carrying 12 forwards, seven defencemen, and two goaltenders on their roster, with only a shade over $5.8-million remaining in cap space. The have signed other free agents like Ferland and Myers to significant contracts before re-signing Boeser, but as of right now, that appears to not be a problem.

They can of course limit the size of their roster two the bare minimum of 20 players and plausibly fit Boeser in under the cap, but  doing so would come with considerable risk.

There is certainly one Swedish winger-sized elephant in the room when it comes to the Canucks cap situation. Loui Eriksson and his three years remaining at a massive $6-million cap hit is causing problems for this team and there has been much speculation as to whether or not the winger can be moved before the start of next season. At this point, it looks as though either a trade or AHL demotion is the most likely course of action; but unfortunately, a demotion only takes $900,000 off the Canucks’ cap hit and doesn’t really solve any problems when it comes to re-signing Boeser.

Other players can certainly be moved to make room — Brandon Sutter, Tanner Pearson, Chris Tanev — but that would just involve some rough guessing and bad hypothetical trades that would send those players somewhere for nothing coming back on the cap. Listing all the possible transactions would be a fruitless exercise, but it is certain that the Canucks need to create some cap space to fit in at least Boeser under the limit.

Boeser’s going to get paid regardless of whether or not they’re able to create the space via trade or another transaction. Obviously, it’s impossible to know exactly what the number will be, but work being done in the public sphere can help give us a ballpark estimate. Looking at past contracts, applying the player’s age, past performance, pedigree, etc. — the EvolvingWild twins of evolving-hockey.com have their annual contract predictions this offseason and have been close in the past years.

Here is what the predictions say:

Length (Years) AAV ($) Probability (%)
1 4,032,854 0.8
2 4,658,017 12.8
3 5,760,399 15.0
4 5,782,868 1.4
5 6,421,065 4.6
6 7,295,955 19.6
7 6,877,966 39.4
8 7,374,713 6.4

Based on the rumours that have been out there regarding figures on a potential Boeser deal and what other players have recently signed for these predictions clearly pass the sniff test. The length peaking at seven years is likely what both the player and team would prefer — security and cost certainty, the two most valuable things for either side.

What’s interesting is the other high-probability years coming in at six, two and three. Those terms are clearly dependent on whether or not the Canucks will be able to clear the space that is needed for the winger’s extension.

It would be unfortunate if the team is forced into a corner and have to sign a player with a high-ceiling like Boeser to a short-term deal and will face another offseason with more restricted free agents than they can handle.

The ideal contract, that happens to be the most likely according to the predictions, would need some slight moves but not a massive overhaul to re-sign the player. A seven year contract that comes around $6.8-7.2-million would be something that everyone can agree with, especially in comparison to other deals around the league.

Player Length of Contract (Years) AAV (millions) GAR in Season before Contract
Brock Boeser  —  — 8.9
William Nylander 6 6.96 15.9
Johnny Gaudreau 6 6.75 15.2
Dylan Larkin 6 6.1 1.9
Leon Draisaitl 8 8.5 14.9

Essentially cherry-picking some players that could be comparable to Boeser when they were up for their first contracts post-entry level, it’s easy to tell where Boeser’s next deal will lie. The Draisaitl comparison might be a bit of stretch, but he did get two extra years for a bit of a bump in cap hit.

The three other players were in the realm of what Boeser is currently, coming out of some stellar rookie years and in need of contract post-ELC that could buy some unrestricted free agency years.

There is a clear history for this type of player, not the top-tier of young stars but the next level that has some crossover. This isn’t a Matthews or McDavid contract, but we’re still talking about someone that deserves getting a significant portion of their team’s cap.

If Benning and co. could get Boeser under control and purchase some UFA seasons for a solid price, that would be an important step forward to reacquiring some of that past success from the prior regime.

The true first step to regaining some prolonged contention would be this contract. So far they have just needed to draft the correct players and begin their development, now it comes the difficult part of a team in a hard-cap system — retaining their services by signing them to fair contracts that won’t ruin the team’s future.

Boeser can be a simple contract, while the upcoming Hughes and Pettersson deals will most likely be the most crucial to get right.

But that’s still looking a couple years in the future. What’s next for this team is to get Boeser signed and keep him in Vancouver for the long-term.

-stats via evolving-hockey-


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