The waiting game ensues. What will Mason Raymond be awarded in arbitration or beforehand? Who, or more specifically, which defenceman / defencemen will Mike Gillis move to create more space in the aftermath of the Raymond signing? What is to become of the seemingly low-quality bottom 6 forwards dilemma? To even make a projection, some cap crunching is in order.
More after the jump.
As it stands, according to CapGeek.com, the Canucks currently have 12 forwards, 9 defencemen and 2 goalies signed for a total cap hit of $59,758,333, which is $358,333 over the new $59.4 million cap limit. If you put together a depth chart/possible lines list for the players that are signed, and say with players who have 2-way contracts that are over 24 years old, it looks something like this:
Burrows-H. Sedin-D. Sedin
Ugh. The bottom 6 forwards are stroke-inducing. Not good enough, plus, that is only 12 forwards instead of the most-likely 13 necessary. The depth on D is terrific, and an overkill. Hence the Bieksa trade rumors. But more on that in a bit.
So, let's say Mason Raymond, who the Canucks have committed to re-signing, is awarded $2.5 million by Mike Gillis or an arbitrator. That would, with the above roster, put the Canucks $2,848,333 over the cap.
Here is where the problem lies, and where several scenarios can develop, assuming MayRay gets $2.5 million. Say at this point the Canucks are $2,848,333 over the cap.
Kevin Bieksa (because he is the most expensive D-man not named Hamhuis or Ballard and can be a ball of suck) is traded for a draft pick(s) and no roster player. That would put the Canucks $901,667 under the cap with little wiggle room. That would possibly leave Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome as the 7th and 8th defencemen, and the Canucks with the required 13 forwards. So, even if MG traded Bieksa for a bottom 6 roster player and a pick, he would have to make sure that the roster player earns $900,000 or less to stay under the cap. Well, that player isn't going to be a guy that blows our socks off at that price. Even if he fished a UFA off the market at that price the issue remains. The problem only gets worse if Cody Hodgson ($875,000) or Jordan Schroeder ($900,000) make the cut. The Canucks will have very limited to no cap space available if that happens.
Kevin Bieksa and Aaron Rome are traded, bringing the Canucks to $1,651,667 under the cap. That means they can afford to put Hodgson on the roster, and still be about $776,667 under the cap. This is an option, and makes the 3rd line potentially Hodgson-Malhotra-Glass. Not terrible, but not one that has me giddy either. We do believe that Hodgson will make the roster before Shroeder does....right?
Kevin Bieksa and Shane O'Brien are traded. If both were traded for draft picks only, the Canucks would be $2,501,667 under the cap with 13 forwards and 7 defencemen. I like this option the best. Obviously it allows the most flexibility. If neither Hodgson nor Schroeder crack the lineup then MG can toss some dollars at one of these Free Agents. Hey, that's rosterbation at its finest! OR, Hodgson makes the team and the Canucks are about $1,626,667 with more options.
The bottom line? Scenario 3 makes the most sense, but one thing remains the same in every scenario: there is no hurry for Gillis to make a trade. There are too may unanswered questions with available cap room from right now up until some time in training camp. Too much is dependant on who emerges from camp at the forward and defence positions. That, I believe, is a big reason why Mike Gillis said after the playoffs that prospects are going to have to emerge to make the roster. I did not even equate Jannik Hansen (edit: or Jeff Tambellini) and his potential minor raise into the bottom 6. It's not going to make a huge difference anyway. Judging by the current situation, MG will take a stab at a UFA only if Hodgson or Schroeder (for example) don't make the team. Feel free to discuss my 3 scenarios or create your own in the comments section.