NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2023
NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2023
More speculation over the futures of Canucks forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser plus concern over what next season’s salary cap will look like in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Thomas Drance was asked about the chances of the Vancouver Canucks moving J.T. Miller before his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1.
Drance believes Miller’s hefty contract (seven years, $56 million commencing July 1) would make teams wary of adding a liability of that size to the books. However, he also suspects there could be some clubs that might sense a potential bargain and hope to get paid a sweetener by the Canucks to take Miller’s contract off their hands.
Suspecting Miller’s trade value could be limited before his NTC begins, Drance thinks Miller is moveable in a package where the Canucks retain part of his salary, pays a sweetener, or takes back a lesser player on an inefficient contract. However, he’s skeptical the Canucks will move him when they’re prioritizing winning in the short term.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t disagree with those scenarios. A Miller trade is possible and, as Drance pointed out, there were reports before the trade deadline that the Canucks were looking into it.
However, that’s a contract that might not be easy to move before July 1. Given their reluctance to retain salary to move Brock Boeser before the trade deadline, they’ll likely want an interested club to take the full amount of Miller’s contract. They won’t want to part with a first-round pick or a top prospect as a sweetener, but they also don’t want to take back a bad contract in return.
Asked about the best routes for the Canucks to clear cap space for next season, Drance suggested buyouts as one method. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland could be worth watching when the first buyout window opens on June 15.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are more likely to try trading Boeser or Garland than buy them out. Ekmar-Larsson is a prime candidate but, as Cap Friendly points out, it’ll be on their books for eight seasons, with a $4.76 million cap hit in 2025-26 and 2026-27.
THE PROVINCE: In a Q&A with Ben Kuzma, Canucks winger Brock Boeser revealed he’s working through “some mental stuff” on a personal level following the death of his father last year. He admitted that affected his game over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old winger also acknowledged seeing his name in trade rumors this season also affected his performance.
Boeser said it was a relief when he knew he would be staying in Vancouver. He’s in the first season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $6.65 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s on-ice struggles this season affected his trade value but there were teams reportedly interested in him, including his hometown Minnesota Wild. However, the Canucks were said to be unwilling to retain a portion of his annual cap hit to facilitate a trade. General manager Patrik Allvin also said that he would be comfortable retaining Boeser and working with him to help him regain his scoring form.
WILL THE SALARY CAP REMAIN FLATTENED NEXT SEASON?
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli speculates NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could face some pressure from team owners about potentially increasing the salary cap above the projected $1 million raise to $83.5 million for 2023-24.
Seravalli doesn’t expect Bettman will provide any answers about that when he addresses the media today following the three-day meeting of NHL general managers. He anticipates the commissioner will say that calculations and projections for next season aren’t final or on track yet to reduce the players’ escrow debt to the owners to a negligible level.
Nevertheless, Seravalli thinks Bettman could get some heat from the NHL executive committee to get into negotiations with the NHL Players Association about finding a way to raise the cap by more than just $1 million for the fourth straight season. He pointed out that the players’ debt to the owners would likely be paid off within the first few weeks of next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An increase in next season’s cap by more than $1 million would have a significant effect on this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. Teams would suddenly have much more cap space to work with, which in turn will affect what moves they can make to improve their rosters for 2023-24.