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Wake With Elias: Could Quinn Hughes sign a deal north of $8 million per season?

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Also, Podkolzin arrives in Vancouver.

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
How has the contract landscape for Quinn Hughes changed over the summer?
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Both Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson are set to become rich men.

That isn’t a secret. What we don’t know, is how rich they’ll be, and how long will they commit to the Vancouver Canucks as RFA’s?

For a while now, many have predicted that Pettersson’s contract will likely come in around $8 million per season, while Hughes will likely be in the $6.5-$7 million range on an annual basis.

However, many of those predictions were made during the summertime. The landscape has changed now that two of Hughes’s closest comparables, Miro Heiskanen and Cale Makar, signed long-term deals north of $8 million.

If Hughes is set to sign a deal north of $8 million per season, you have to wonder, will Hughes and Pettersson actually sign matching contracts? And how will the Canucks be able to squeeze that under the salary cap?

Before the season starts, every NHL team needs to be cap-compliant to avoid penalties. Unfortunately for the Canucks, they need to do that while keeping Micheal Ferland on the roster. So, if Hughes and Pettersson’s contracts were to come in at $8 million each, for example, that would put the team over the cap with Ferland on the roster.

One easy move for the Canucks to make would be to “paper” Jack Rathbone and Vasily Podkolzin down to the minors, saving $1.85 million in cap space. With every dollar counting, this is where depth players like Luke Schenn ($850,000) and Zack MacEwen ($825,000) could also be sent to the minors, with the Canucks needing to perform gymnastics to be under the cap. The Canucks could also “begin” the season with a roster of 20 players (the minimum needed) before moving Ferland to LTIR and recalling depth players that otherwise would be on the Canucks NHL roster moving forward.

It’s going to be an interesting exercise, and especially so if Hughes’s AAV does creep towards — or even beyond — the $8 million mark.

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Onlookers are probably a little too negative about Hughes’s defensive impact. He’s never going to be a top shutdown guy, but he’s quick, good with his stick, and showed in his rookie year that he can get in position to defend well. In all likelihood, that part of his game will improve in the years ahead.

He’s also the most dynamic offensive defenceman the Canucks have had in their history. With Hughes on the ice, the Canucks can likely outscore their problems.

With RFA deals, you are paying for potential. Many players who sign massive long-term deals haven’t yet hit their peak, and Hughes is no different.

On Hughes’s UFA status...

So you’re telling me, you’d be mad is Hughes signed for six years?

Here’s the thing. If Hughes is really set on leaving Vancouver as a UFA, there’s nothing the Canucks can do to stop him. Hell, if the Canucks continue to flounder and the Devils’ franchise suddenly turns around, why wouldn’t you force your way out if you’re Hughes?

If you’re telling me that we can sign Hughes for six years, I’m all for it. If the Canucks still suck that that point, with Hughes and Pettersson on the team, then maybe it’s time to start over again anyways.

In other Canucks News

  • Vasily Podkolzin hits the ice in Vancouver.
  • Look at that, Podkolzin hasn’t even played a game for the Canucks, and he’s already making history.
  • Jake Virtanen has officially signed a one-year deal with Spartak Moscow of the KHL. [CBC]
  • Travis Green talks about a bounce-back campaign after “a season of survival.” [The Province]
  • A preview of Vancouver’s five biggest roster battles. [The Athletic]
  • Finally, Ryan Kesler talks about how he wanted doctors to “cut off his finger.” [Daily Hive]