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Wake With Elias: Canucks buy out Braden Holtby, Nate Schmidt’s final hours & offer sheets incoming?

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Also, Marc-Andre Fleury was just traded for less than a bag of pucks.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
Goaltender Braden Holtby #49 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a third period stoppage of play against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on May 11, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s been a hectic few days for the Vancouver Canucks, and it’s not about to slow down.

Let’s catch you up on what’s transpired for Jim Benning and company since the end of the draft, including the most recent breaking news from this morning.

Canucks buy out Braden Holtby

After failing to trade Braden Holtby over the last few days, the Canucks have reportedly bought out the final year of his contract,

This is a move that made a ton of sense for the Canucks, and that was before the team acquired Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. It’s obviously not the best-case scenario (that would have been a magical trade where the Canucks didn’t retain salary), but this does free up $3.8 million in valuable cap space heading into next season.

Canucks qualify seven RFA’s, let five become UFA’s

The club did not issue qualifying offers to the following players:

The only mild surprises here are that the Canucks didn’t qualify Hawryluk or Michaelis. However, Hawryluk’s qualifying offer would have been $840,000, which perhaps was a tad rich for the cap-strapped Canucks. Michaelis’s qualifying offer couldn’t have been any cheaper (he was making league-minimum), so the tea leaves tell us that he probably won’t be back with the Canucks.

As for the rest, well the next few hours could be tense with those negotiations.

Any offer sheets incoming?

Among the Canucks’ seven RFAs, four are due for hefty raises, and three of those players can be offer sheeted.

Elias Pettersson is likely most at risk of an offer sheet. While the Canucks likely project his cap hit at around $7 million, a team could realistically offer sheet him with an average annual value of $10 or even $11 million.

While Benning has said the team will match, that would put Vancouver in an even more precarious cap situation. The Canucks already have one of the least enviable cap situations in the league, so an offer sheet that severely jacks up Pettersson’s AAV is no bueno.

Newly acquired Conor Garland could also be at risk of an offer sheet. After scoring at a 65-point pace last season, a team could realistically offer sheet him to a contract with an AAV of $5 million or more. The Canucks probably want to keep his cap hit in the $4 million range. Wouldn’t it be something if the newest Canuck signed an offer sheet elsewhere?

Lastly, Jason Dickinson is due for a raise on his $1.5 million salary from last season. He should make somewhere in the $2.5 to $3 million range.

Thankfully, Quinn Hughes is not eligible for an offer sheet...so I wonder if his contract comes through in September. We’ve seen that play out before with both Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser signing right before training camp.

Good riddance, Jake

The Canucks did clear a bit of cap space by buying out Jake Virtanen, in one of the least surprising moves of the offseason.

So ends one of the most underwhelming tenures in Canucks history.

What about Schmidt?

  • Speaking of a potential Schmidt trade, he reportedly axed a trade to Winnipeg, which led to the Dillion acquisition [The Province]
  • The Canucks are still working hard to trade Schmidt [TSN]

Surrey boys on the move

Two of Surrey’s finest are likely to be playing elsewhere next season.

Defenceman Brendan Dillion will for sure have a new home, after the Washington Capitals traded him to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for two second-round picks.

That was great value for the cap-strapped Capitals, who needed to clear cap space to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

It makes you wonder though...if Dillion can fetch two second-round picks, what can Schmidt get?

The other Surrey boy who’s likely on the move is Jujhar Khaira. Rob Williams recently wrote about whether the Canucks should chase the 26-year-old to play a fourth-line role.

In other news...

  • The biggest non-Canucks news of the day...

So the reigning Vezina Trophy winner was just traded for less than a bag of pucks? Okay then...

Among them were Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie of the Boston Bruins. I wrote about those two as offseason targets for the Canucks, since both were unprotected by Boston in the expansion draft. Both would help fill out the Canucks forward group, however at this point, the Canucks priorities are A) clearing cap space, B) improving the defence. Ritchie and Kase do nothing to help the Canucks in that regard.

  • In terms of depth additions on defence, it appears as if the Canucks are going to re-sign Luke Schenn [Last Word on Sports]
  • Finally, here are some burning questions league-wide on the eve of free agency. [NHL]