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4 thoughts about Pearson’s contract: Benning’s dirty laundry and “fun” with numbers

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Same old song and dance for Jimbo and company.

2019 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
JUNE 22: General manager Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks looks on from the team draft table during Rounds 2-7 of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Tanner Pearson is officially off the market, as the Vancouver Canucks announced on Thursday that the 29-year-old winger had been signed to a three-year, $9.75 million extension.

Here are four thoughts as Jim Benning hands out yet another short-sighted contract.

Tanner Pearson owes Bo Horvat something special

One of the reasons why Pearson is valued so highly by this organization is because Benning has utterly failed to find a consistent winger for Bo Horvat — aside from Tanner Pearson.

Even then, it’s a low, low bar.

Pearson currently has 11 points in 33 games this season while spending most of his ice time with Horvat. That’s already a troubling sign for the 29-year-old, who has struggled mightily when playing without the Canucks captain.

Here are some of Pearson’s splits when playing with and without Bo since he joined the Canucks back in 2018-19.

  • Shot attempts for %: 50.5% with Horvat, 43.4% without
  • Scoring chance for %: 48.3% with Horvat, 41.7% without
  • Expected goals for %: 51.1% with Horvat, 39.1% without
  • Even-strength points per 60: 1.65 with Horvat (low-end second line rate), 1.01 without (fourth line, replacement level)

Pearson has played over 400 even-strength minutes without Horvat since joining the Canucks. As the numbers show, he’s a replacement level winger in those minutes.

Apparently, replacement level wingers in Vancouver are worth $3 million or more per season...but you already knew that.

I’m still mad about Toffoli

Just for fun, here’s what Jake Virtanen and Tanner Pearson combined have produced compared to Toffoli this season.

Jake Virtanen/Tanner Pearson: 65 GP, 11 G, 5 A, 16 PTS ($5.8 million cap hit in ‘21-22)

Tyler Toffoli: 33 GP, 19 G, 11 A, 30 PTS ($4.25 million cap hit in ‘21-22)

It’s been beaten to death (and rightfully so), but the excuses for not bringing back Toffoli were incredibly weak. That’s further exacerbated today by the Pearson signing.

Airing out Benning’s dirty laundry

This is here for reference in case you forget about all the shitty contracts that Jim Benning has signed, courtesy of Cap Friendly.

Benning’s dirty laundry

PLAYER LENGTH CAP HIT VALUE
PLAYER LENGTH CAP HIT VALUE
Eriksson, Loui 6 years $6,000,000 $36,000,000
Myers, Tyler 5 years $6,000,000 $30,000,000
Sutter, Brandon 5 years $4,375,000 $21,875,000
Holtby, Braden 2 years $4,300,000 $8,600,000
Gudbranson, Erik 3 years $4,000,000 $12,000,000
Sbisa, Luca 3 years $3,600,000 $10,800,000
Gudbranson, Erik 1 year $3,500,000 $3,500,000
Ferland, Micheal 4 years $3,500,000 $14,000,000
Baertschi, Sven 3 years $3,366,666 $10,100,000
Pearson, Tanner 3 years $3,250,000 $9,750,000
Gagner, Sam 3 years $3,150,000 $9,450,000
Del Zotto, Michael 2 years $3,000,000 $6,000,000
Beagle, Jay 4 years $3,000,000 $12,000,000
Roussel, Antoine 4 years $3,000,000 $12,000,000
Hutton, Ben 2 years $2,800,000 $5,600,000
Dorsett, Derek 4 years $2,650,000 $10,600,000
Virtanen, Jake 2 years $2,550,000 $5,100,000
Nilsson, Anders 2 years $2,500,000 $5,000,000
Schaller, Tim 2 years $1,900,000 $3,800,000

The above deals represent 19 of the 31 deals that Benning has handed out with an AAV above $1.9 million. And yes, I did arbitrarily choose $1.9 million to include the Tim Schaller deal.

The above contracts come to a grand total of $226,175,000. Basically, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars spent on REPLACEABLE PLAYERS.

And you wonder why people in Vancouver are upset with the Pearson contract.

The “Bright” Side

From a number of angles, this deal doesn’t make sense. Pearson is on the decline, he’s been propped up by Horvat and the Canucks are addicted to overpaying marginal players.

Oh, not to mention that Benning has to sign the two cornerstones of the franchise to extensions, and he has very little cap room to work with.

Speaking of that cap room, I outlined recently what the Canucks cap room for 2021-22 could look like in an optimistic scenario.

That scenario didn’t have Pearson re-signing, and it also didn’t have Jay Beagle on LTIR, something which is apparently plausible.

Here’s an updated look at my table from that article, which gives you a rough idea of what the Canucks are working with after the Pettersson and Hughes contracts, along with a couple of other depth signings. The players estimated new contracts are bolded.

Again, this is an “optimistic” outlook.

Forwards

JT Miller ($5.25M) — Elias Pettersson ($7M) — Brock Boeser ($5.875M)

Guy — Bo Horvat ($5.5M) — Nils Hoglander ($891,667)

Tanner Pearson ($3.25M) GuyVasily Podkolzin ($925K)

Jayce Hawryluk ($850K)Adam Gaudette ($900K) — Tyler Motte ($1.2M)

Extras: Zack MacEwen ($825K), Guy

Buried: Loui Eriksson ($4.875M), Antoine Roussel ($1.875M), Jake Virtanen ($1.425M)

LTIR: Micheal Ferland, Jay Beagle

Defence

Quinn Hughes ($7M)Guy

Guy — Nate Schmidt ($5.9M)

Jack Rathbone ($925K) — Tyler Myers ($6M)

Extras: Olli Juolevi ($800K)

Goalies

Thatcher Demko ($5M)

Braden Holtby ($4.3M)

Roster size: 18

Cap Hit: $73,676,879

Cap Remaining: $7,823,121

By this estimation, the Canucks have $7.8 million in cap space based on a number of optimistic things happening, including burying Beagle on LTIR, burying Roussel, Eriksson in and Virtanen in the minors, signing Pettersson and Hughes to a combined $14 million, and re-signing Hawryluk and Gaudette to deals under $1 million.

Even in this optimistic scenario, the Canucks have $7.8 million to find a top-six winger, a third line centre, and two top four defenceman.

Pearson is none of those things, which makes Thursday’s announcement that much more mind-boggling.