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Assessing the Canucks’ depth chart and cap situation ahead of offseason madness

How long until the Canucks’ depth chart is altered dramatically?

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks
Elias Pettersson and the Canucks are in the early stages of a critical offseason.
Getty Images

The offseason is young, but the action is already underway.

Two notable trades have already taken place, with the Tampa Bay Lightning trading Ryan McDonagh to the Nashville Predators, while the division-rivel Los Angeles Kings acquired Kevin Fiala from the Minnesota Wild.

In Vancouver, Patrik Allvin has also been working like a madman.

Since last Monday, the rookie GM has signed eight players. Most notably, that includes Jack Rathbone, Brock Boeser, and Russian free agent Andrei Kuzmenko.

Earlier in June, Allvin also added Nils Aman and former 2018 first-rounder Filip Johansson to the prospect pool.

With the offseason set to kick into high gear over the next 7-10 days, let’s quickly take a look at where the Canucks are at in terms of their depth chart and cap situation.

Canucks 2022-23 depth chart (as of July 4th, 2022)

There is versatility among the Canucks wingers, with guys like Conor Garland, Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander playing both sides during their time in Vancouver.

This depth chart aims to balance both the organizational hierarchy and realistic combinations/pairings heading into next season.

Forwards

Conor Garland ($4.95M) — JT Miller ($5.25M) — Brock Boeser ($6.65M)

Andrei Kuzmenko ($950K) — Elias Pettersson ($7.35M) — Vasily Podkolzin ($925K)

Tanner Pearson ($3.25M) — Bo Horvat ($5.5M) — Nils Hoglander ($891K)

Jason Dickinson ($2.6M) — Unknown — Unknown

Defence

Quinn Hughes ($7.85M) — Tyler Myers ($6M)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($7.26M) — Travis Dermott ($1.5M)

Jack Rathbone ($850K) — Luke Schenn ($850K)

Kyle Burroughs ($750K) — Tucker Poolman ($2.5M)

Goalies

Thatcher Demko ($5M)

Spencer Martin ($762K)

Additional Cap Penalties

  • Braden Holtby buyout: $1.9M
  • Jake Virtanen buyout: $500K
  • Carryover bonus overages: $1.25M

Long-Term Injured Reserve

  • Micheal Ferland: $3.5M

2022-23 Roster Size: 20/23

2022-23 Cap Hit: $76.6M

2022-23 Cap Space Remaining: $5.9M approx.

Remaining NHL RFA’s: Juho Lammikko, Matthew Highmore

Canucks roster takeaways

Vancouver Canucks v Colorado Avalanche
J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks reacts after scoring a third-period goal against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena on March 23, 2022 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

1. Everything hinges on potential Miller trade

Although it’s no guarantee the Canucks trade JT Miller, it certainly feels like that’s the direction Vancouver is going to go.

And, based on what the Los Angeles Kings netted for Fiala, a Miller trade probably makes sense.

If the Canucks can get a first-round pick, talented young prospect ALONG with an established, young roster player, then you can consider Miller as good as gone.

I wouldn’t say a Miller deal is an absolute guarantee. I mentioned in our roundtable this week that despite dealing him being better for the team’s long-term interests, it’s going to create a gaping hole in the short-term.

Miller wasn’t just the best skater on this team last season — he single-handedly willed his team to competitiveness on nights when the rest of the team wasn’t ready to play.

If the Canucks are truly going to trade Miller, it seems destined to happen in the next 7-10 days. His value won’t be any higher than it is now.

2. The Canucks have big decisions to make at centre

Again, this hinges on Miller, but there are multiple looming decisions at centre ice.

With Miller, the Canucks have one of the best 1-2-3 punches in hockey.

The problem? They don’t have any reliable centremen under contract after those three.

Jason Dickinson can’t be considered a lock at centre after his disastrous 2021-22 campaign. And, while the Canucks are in talks with Juho Lammikko, he’s a fourth-line centre at best.

There’s no doubt that Pettersson and Horvat are a good 1-2 punch, but the Canucks (once again) will have a big hole to fill at centre on their third line if Miller departs.

Aside from big names like Vincent Trocheck or Evgeni Malkin, the Canucks could be looking at bottom-six staples like Colin Blackwell, Johan Larsson, Chris Tierney or Nico Sturm as 3C replacements on the UFA market.

Ottawa Senators v Vancouver Canucks
Could Chris Tierney (left) be a UFA candidate for the Canucks at centre?
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

3. The defence is set...or is it?

As of writing, the Canucks have eight NHL defenceman signed for next season on their roster.

Will these be the eight defencemen to make the roster for opening night?

I don’t think it’s much of an argument to say that the Canucks biggest need is a top-pairing right-shot defencemen (although many other teams around the league could say the same thing).

It’s not ideal for Tyler Myers to be your top right-shot defencemen. When thinking about targets in a Miller trade, finding a potential top-pairing RHD of the future has to be one of the main goals.

4. The Canucks have room for one “big” addition

Based on their current cap situation, the Canucks have $5.9 million in cap space with three roster spots to fill.

A lot can change obviously but as of now, that allows the Canucks to make one “big” signing for a player that could come in at a cap hit of roughly $4 million.

Rough 2022-23 Abbotsford Canucks depth chart

Forwards

Justin Dowling ($750K) — Sheldon Dries ($762K) — William Lockwood ($750K)

Arshdeep Bains ($816K) — John Stevens ($750K) — Danila Klimovich ($855K)

Chase Wouters (AHL-only) — Linus Karlsson ($883K) — Unknown

Vincent Arseneau (AHL-only) — Nils Aman ($883K) — Unknown

Tristan Nielsen (AHL-only) — Carson Focht ($821K) — Unknown

Karel Plasek ($846K) — Matt Alfaro (AHL-only) — Unknown

Defence

Guillaume Brisebois ($750K) — Noah Juulsen ($750K)

Quinn Schmiemann (AHL-only) — Brady Keeper ($762K)

Unknown — Jett Woo ($860K)

Unknown — Alex Kannok-Leipert (AHL-only)

UnknownUnknown

Goalies

Arturs Silovs ($786K)

Notable RFAs: Michael DiPietro, Justin Bailey

Notable UFAs: Sheldon Rempal, Phil Di Guiseppe

*Nic Petan, Madison Bowey, Devante Stephens Ashton Sautner weren’t included among notable UFAs because it’s been reported that none of them expected to re-sign with the Canucks.

Quick Thoughts on the Abbotsford Canucks

1. There is a ton of centre depth already on this team. Justin Dowling, Chase Wouters and Tristain Nielsen also are listed at centre as well as left-wingers.

2. Compare that to their right-wing depth, where this team is severely lacking players, especially if Will Lockwood makes the jump to the NHL.

3. Their right-wing depth could improve if players like Sheldon Rempal or Phil Di Guiseppe return.

4. On defence, the problem is reversed. There are more right-shot guys vying for spots. This leaves Jett Woo in a tough position heading into next year. Can he be more than a bottom-pairing guy?

5. Really curious how Brady Keeper performs after missing all of last season with a brutal leg injury. He was already on the cusp of the NHL before the beginning of last season.