Updates on the Canucks and Flames – March 17, 2018
A look at the most recent Canucks and Flames speculation in your NHL rumor mill.
BUSY SUMMER FOR THE CANUCKS?
THE ATHLETIC: JD Burke recently speculated the coming offseason could be the busiest in Vancouver Canucks’ history. He noted the club already has around $23 million in projected cap space for next season and that’s before taking Derek Dorsett’s LTIR into account and a salary-cap ceiling that could reach $82 million. The Sedins could retire but if they’re re-signed the Canucks will have 23 roster spots accounted for. Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen, Markus Granlund, Derrick Pouliot and Troy Stecher are restricted free agents and Burke suggested their collective cap hit could be $11 million. The Sedins are unlikely to accept anything less than one-year deals worth $5 million each. Combined with the cost of re-signing their RFAs, that cap space disappears quickly.
Based on the Canucks’ reported disappointment in the Calgary Flames re-signing center Mikael Backlund, Burke thinks Vancouver could be busy in the secondary free-agent market for a shoot-first winger. Rumors persist the Canucks could pursue Vancouver native Evander Kane, but Burke feels his personal baggage outweighs his on-ice value. He speculated they could pursue someone such as Vegas’ James Neal or David Perron.
If the Canucks trade defenseman Chris Tanev without getting a right-handed blueliner in return, perhaps they’ll pursue Washington rearguard John Carlson via free agency. He also wonders if the Canucks might consider trading defenseman Ben Hutton, though his contract ($2.8 million through 2018-19) could be a difficult sell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what moves the Canucks make this summer. General manager Jim Benning seems reluctant to part with Tanev but that doesn’t mean he won’t listen to offers this summer. Chasing someone like Carlson would be an expensive pursuit. If Neal or Perron hit the open market, however, maybe Benning goes after one of them.
If the Sedins are willing to accept one-year, bonus-laden contracts with a base of $5 million each, I can see the Canucks re-signing them to provide short-term second-line depth and experienced leadership to their younger players. Should the cap ceiling hits $82 million and it costs a combined $21 million to sign the Sedins and those key RFAs, the Canucks will still have around $7 million to pursue a quality forward or defenseman via free agency.
COULD THE FLAMES ADD A FORWARD THIS SUMMER?
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols recently cited NHL insider Pierre LeBrun’s appearance earlier this week on Vancouver’s TSN 1040 discussing attempts by the Flames to improve their roster at the recent trade deadline. LeBrun feels the Flames rely too much on a small group of players to provide the offense. He knows they were looking around for a winger at the trade deadline, talking to the Ottawa Senators about Mike Hoffman and the Montreal Canadiens about Max Pacioretty. He thinks the Flames had particular interest in those two because they have term remaining on their respective contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on LeBrun’s report, Nichols suggests the Flames could attempt to address their need for another scoring forward in the offseason. The problem, as LeBrun noted, is Calgary’s lack of tradable assets in terms of prospects and draft picks. As per Cap Friendly, they dealt away their first and second round picks in the 2018 draft, as well as their second and third round selections in 2019.
There was speculation before the recent trade deadline that the Flames could be willing to part with promising goaltender Jon Gillies. However, he alone won’t be enough to bring in a scoring forward of the caliber of Hoffman or Pacioretty. With over $62 million invested in 15 players next season and all their core players under contract, perhaps the Flames will look to this summer’s free-agent market to boost their scoring depth.