The Canucks at the Deadline

As expected, the Vancouver Canucks are once again one of the best teams in the NHL. They're currently sitting in third (by points percentage) in the race for the Presidents' Trophy despite some possession struggles over their last twenty-or-so games. I don't know what exactly the problem is, and maybe the club will just work its way out of it, but it would be awfully tempting to try to make some improvements at the deadline. The last time I checked in with them, I was busy praising Mike Gillis for his acquisition of David Booth. Is it time to make another move?

First things first. Those who've read here before know that I like to use the chart below as a cap space guideline. The Canucks are a cap team, so we'll assume that they're going to be spending to the cap of $64.3M. Here's the chart:

Top 3 Forwards - 27.5% or 17.68M
Middle 6 Forwards - 20.0% or 12.86M
Top 4 Defenders - 27.5% or 17.68M
Goaltending - 10.0% or 6.43M
Bottom 8 Players - 15.0% or 9.65M

And now let's populate with this year's team:

Top 3 Forwards - Sedin, Sedin, Kesler - 26.7% or 17.20M
Middle 6 Forwards - Raymond, Booth, Hodgson, Burrows, Hansen, Higgins - 21.3% or 13.72M
Top 4 Defenders - Bieksa, Hamhuis, Salo, Edler - 22.3% or 14.35M
Goaltending - Luongo, Schneider - 9.7% or 6.23M
Bottom 8 Players - Lapierre, Ebbett, Malhotra, Weise, Bitz, Volpatti, Ballard, Alberts, Rome, Tanev, Sulzer, (Bonus Carry) - 21.3% or 13.72M

You'll notice that the total is slightly higher than 100%. That's because they've got a couple of extra players on the roster thanks to a couple of other guys being on long-term injured reserve. But the fact is, the team doesn't have a lot of room this year at the deadline (about $400,000 in space), so any additions will require subtractions from other parts of the roster.

What about looking forward to next season (assuming the same 64.3M cap)?

Top 3 Forwards - Sedin, Sedin, Kesler - 26.7% or 17.20M
Middle 6 Forwards - Booth, Hodgson, Burrows, Hansen, Higgins, ??? - 17.4% or 11.17M
Top 4 Defenders - Bieksa, Hamhuis, Edler, ??? - 19.2% or 12.35M
Goaltending - Luongo, Schneider - 8.3% or 5.33M
Bottom 8 Players - Lapierre, Malhotra, Ballard, Alberts, Tanev, ???, ???, ??? - 15.3% or 9.83M
Key RFAs - Raymond, Schneider
Kery UFAs - Salo, Rome

The Canucks will come back next year with a very similar team. If the cap rises (or salaries get rolled back), they're in a good position to add so it likely makes sense to save Cory Schneider (or Roberto Luongo) until the draft, where he'll be a very attractive asset in trade when the Canucks actually have room. As for the deadline, it makes sense for the Canucks to stand pat unless someone really blows their socks off. The exception would be if there's a market for Keith Ballard. Moving him out would make sense long-term, and would give the Canucks the flexibility that they need to add an impact player at the deadline. But barring that unlikely event, I expect Mike Gillis to trust his group to get back on track and for the Canucks to be very quiet.

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