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What might the Canucks moving on from Nikita Tryamkin reveal about their 2020/21 defence plans?

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Is Tyson Barrie still on GM Jim Benning’s radar?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Winnipeg Jets
Maple Leafs’ defenceman and British Columbia native Tyson Barrie is a pending UFA and has been rumoured in the past to want to play in his home Province.
Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

News broke earlier today that defenceman Nikita Tryamkin re-signed with his KHL club Avtomobilist for one more season.

The unusual Covid-19 induced anomaly of the KHL breaking training camp on their 2020/21 season just days after the NHL broke camp on their 2019/20 bubble Stanley Cup playoffs doomed the 2020 re-marriage of BFG with his NHL rights holder.

While many will argue to the death that the Canucks are in Cap-hell, the truth is that the flat NHL cap of $81.5M simply requires them to make prudent decisions this year without any room for error. They probably would have signed Tryamkin to a one-way NHL pact had he been willing to limit his Cap hit to the fully 100% AHL-buriable amount of $ 1,075,000.00. However, Rick Dhaliwal of TSN1040 reported Tryamkin wanted $ 2,000,000.00 to $ 3,000,000.00 per season.

Add in the factor that the final verdict on the Canucks’ 2019/20 rear-guard corps won’t be known until the Covid Cup is awarded meant that BFG was almost certain to stay in the ex-Soviet gulag for one more season.

Who stays and who goes from the Canucks’ seven-man NHL defence crew once their season ends is pretty much up-in-the-air. Edler, Myers and Hughes are the only sure-thing returnees for the 2020/21 season as things stand now.

Affordable UFA Oscar Fantenberg is unlikely to be re-signed. His left-side spot is likely to be taken by a young defenceman on an Entry Level Contract (ELC). The current candidates are Jack Rathbone, Olli Juolevi and Guillaume Brisebois.

Jordie Benn is still tied to the Canucks contractually for one more season. The analytics darlings of Canucks’ Twitter were sold on him as a value-signing. Unfortunately, there is a no-return policy on NHL UFA signing mistakes. That said, UFAs sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to their new clubs in their first season. Benn has an opportunity to redeem himself in the post season. Although his fiance’s due date with their first child set for the end of July may get in the way of his redemption plan.

It appears very likely that the Canucks will part ways with one of their current right side defencemen. Will it be valued but aging UFA Chris Tanev or feisty but limited local RFA Troy Stecher? Perhaps, it will be both.

Jim Benning is said to have held a long-time interest in obtaining mobile right handed defenceman Tyson Barrie. Barrie has been reported to be interested in continuing his career in Rain City. With the flat Cap, Barrie will likely find it difficult to find a suitor willing to give him a long term big dollar contract this off season. All things being equal, would he be willing to sign a one season Covid-friendly contract with the Canucks in anticipation of Alex Edler’s big Cap hit expiring after the 2020/21 season concludes? This might open up the Cap space for a longer term more lucrative contract for him to sign at the end of next season.

Benning is rumoured to have been willing to give up significant assets to obtain Barrie both at the 2019 NHL June draft and at the 2020 NHL Trading Deadline. Now that he can obtain Barrie without relinquishing assets, will he be denied his quarry for a third time?

It will be an interesting and packed shortened off season for Jim Benning and his management team starting in October, Covid-willing.

The final personnel decisions won’t be made until after the bubble playoffs are done. Players like Jake Virtanen have to show that they are players you can also win with not just party with. If he fails on the big stage will the Canucks for example move on from him in a trade and save Cap space by replacing him with ELC hot-shot rookie forward Nils Hoglander?

But the off season is still months away. The focus now is on what the ceiling might be for this year’s team. Will they bow out early in a play-in series against Minnesota or go deep in the playoffs maybe even with a Cinderella ending? No one, including Jim Benning, knows the final chapter yet of their 2019/20 season. But the outcome of the post season games will help Benning, particularly on the D-flanks, in identifying players you win with and/or lose with in the playoffs.