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Canucks wash themselves clean of Nate Schmidt, trade him to Winnipeg. So, what’s next?

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The Canucks clear another $5.95 million in cap space ahead of free agency.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
Paul Stastny #25 of the Winnipeg Jets and Nate Schmidt #88 of the Vancouver Canucks share a laugh during the pre-game warm up prior to NHL action at the Bell MTS Place on May 11, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. This marks the 1000th game of Stastny’s NHL career.
Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

We don’t lie to the people here at Nucks Misconduct.

This morning, we had the words “Nate Schmidt’s final hours” in our morning news round-up post.

Well, seven hours after hitting “publish,” Schmidt has officially been dealt by the Canucks.

Since we’re being honest, call me surprised that Winnipeg ended up being Schmidt’s destination.

Jim Benning basically wiped himself clean of the Schmidt deal this afternoon by trading him to Winnipeg for a 2022 3rd round pick...10 months after Benning traded a 2022 third-round pick to acquire Schmidt.

The middling return for Schmidt once again highlights the value of cap space in this league. Brendan Dillon, someone who’s arguably inferior to Schmidt, fetched two second-round picks yesterday. Schmidt, who makes $2 million more per season than Dillion, with one more year remaining (Dillion’s cap hit is $3.9 million for two more seasons), was acquired at a lower cost.

Of course, the Canucks precarious cap situation is no secret, nor is any team's cap conundrum for that matter. It’s why we saw a Vezina winner literally traded for a bag of pucks this afternoon.

At least Schmidt got more than a bag of pucks. That should be considered a win.

So, why Winnipeg?

Multiple reports confirmed that Schmidt did turn down a deal to Winnipeg, which we included in our news round-up this morning.

However, it sounds like Schmidt had some convincing from other players, before waiving his no-trade clause to join the Jets.

Schmidt is also a Minnesota native, meaning he’s close to his hometown state, being in Winnipeg. Jets captain Blake Wheeler is also a Minnesota native.

What’s Next?

Heading into free agency, the biggest piece of work for Benning remains signing Elias Pettersson to an extension.

While I believe that the Canucks would match any offer sheet (how could they not?), it’s certainly more favourable to pay Pettersson $7-$7.5 million per season, as opposed to $9-$9.5 million, which is what a team could realistically give him with an offer sheet.

Aside from that, there are holes on the right side of the canucks defence, Tyler Myers is the only righty currently on the roster.

Travis Hamonic is a good bet to return alongside Hughes. He is one of the better options in a thin market. It’s also been rumoured that Luke Schenn could sign a two-year deal in the $700K-$800K per season range. However, Schenn is really better suited as a 7th or 8th defenceman.

There aren’t many legit top-four options on the free-agent market. Some fliers the Canucks could take on right-handed blueliners in free agency include Jani Hakanpaa, Mark Pysyk, Brandon Montour and Zach Bogosian. Other lefties with experience playing on the right side include Jordan Oesterle, Brendan Smith and Ian Cole.

Slim pickings, but these are the options with precious little cap space to work with.