August 14, 2022

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Roberto Luongo nonetheless hangs over the Canucks

Image: Getty Images

While I do love the picture of Roberto Luongo stalking the rafters within the Rogers Arena in a darkish gown, maybe slung over half his face (and Luongo himself is likely to be tempted to really act this out given the goofball he’s) it’s not fairly that easy. It’s not even completely the fault of both Luongo or the Canucks, because the cap-recapture penalty is among the dumber issues the NHL has ever instituted and it’s not clear what the gamers bought for acquiescing to it within the 2013 CBA. Because by way of that course of, extra chickens are coming dwelling to roost, i.e. two younger gamers nonetheless with out a contract when all they did was kick everybody’s ass throughout their first contract.

Canucks coaching camp opens tomorrow, and but their two finest gamers, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, won’t be there. Both are restricted free brokers after their entry-level contracts expired final season. Both are among the many league’s finest younger gamers at their respective positions. And it is likely to be a while earlier than both one is again with the crew, as a result of the Canucks solely have $10.6 million in house. That’s not sufficient to present each Pettersson and Hughes what they deserve because the market has gone.

Part of the issue is that Luongo’s cap-recapture penalty of $3 million nonetheless sits on the Canucks payroll like some lazy but obstinate hippo. Luongo’s huge contract was signed 11(!) years in the past, and he was traded to Florida practically seven years in the past. But as a result of it was signed two CBAs in the past, underneath a special algorithm, its cap-number-lowering techniques are nonetheless being punished. If the Canucks had been $14 million underneath the cap, as they’d be with out this foolish and over punitive admonishment from this CBA, that may simply be sufficient to get each of their younger stars into camp. At least it could be in the event that they took bridge offers.

There are different components, after all. When GM Jim Benning is the one captaining the ship, you by no means want a forensic crew to determine the way it ended up within the car parking zone the wrong way up. The Canucks pulled off an enormous deal this summer season, money-wise, with the Arizona Coyotes to take away a number of their useless weight each on the ice and on the cap within the types of Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, and Jay Beagle. The commerce did internet Vancouver Conor Garland, maybe one of many solely helpful gamers on the Coyotes. But it solely saved them a couple of hundred thousand, due to having to take Oliver Ekman-Larsson together with Garland. OEL hasn’t been good in three years, and he’ll be sucking down $7.6 million per season till the Earth’s warmth dying.

Benning’s splashing of a mixed $9 million on Tyler Myers and Travis Hamonic, who collectively can replenish most of a doorway and never a lot else, isn’t serving to issues a lot both. And in a flat-cap world, nobody is coming to save lots of them on these offers. There’s a good bit of the Canucks doing this to themselves.

Without Hughes and Pettersson, the Canucks lack any real top-line ahead aside from Brock Boeser or any real top-pairing defenseman. WIth them, they’re virtually definitely a lock for the playoffs given the Pacific Division’s hilariously weak state (the Golden Knights would possibly push 115 factors this yr in the event that they really feel prefer it).

Figuring out exactly how a lot every ought to get is even tougher, and the Canucks are pressured to play hardball due to their cap state of affairs and each gamers’ restricted standing. And due to the Blackhawks struggling some type of mind bubble and throwing all the cash on the earth at Seth Jones to the tune of $9.5 million a yr, the marketplace for defensemen is totally out of whack. Hughes has unquestionably been higher than Jones the final two seasons. Rasmus Dahlin simply signed with the Sabres for $6 million a yr as a restricted free agent, and Hughes’s agent can simply declare he’s higher than Dahlin, too.

Pettersson’s 0.93 points-per-game the previous three seasons ranks thirty first amongst all forwards, slotting him in alongside names like Toews, Backstrom, Landeskog, O’Reilly, and Gaudreau, who all earn $7 million or much more. Kirill Kaprizov simply re-signed in Minnesota for $9 million a yr, and Pettersson may simply make the case that he’s had two and a half (final yr he solely performed 26 video games attributable to harm) seasons which can be the equal of what Kirill The Thrill simply produced in solely 56 video games. Cleary, $10 million isn’t sufficient for each.

There’s some unhealthy luck, and in addition some baffling choices holding Pettersson and Hughes away from Canucks camp. But laying beneath, or above if we proceed the metaphor from the intro, is Luongo. This is the final yr of the recapture penalty, after which the Canucks might be freed from Luongo’s aura that has adopted them in every single place the previous decade, even when he wasn’t on the crew. But can they ever be free? Given the Canucks’ historical past and their followers’ persecution complicated, it could appear not.

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