In recent memory, the Vancouver Canucks have become the staple franchise of what not to do in free agency. Bloated contracts to middle-of-the-lineup players with excessive term has hamstrung the Canucks salary cap. The contracts which gave them their unfavourable reputation come from former general manager (GM) Jim Benning. The names Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and Tyler Myers are hard to hear for fans. They are still dealing with the Ramifications of the Myers deal, allegedly trying to trade him this offseason.
Fortunately for fans, Patrik Allvin, the Canucks current GM, had not repeated the sins Benning regularly made. During two free agent periods, 2022 and 2023, he has brought a cautious approach to signing players. He has targeted cheap veterans, and the contract is reasonable when Allvin targets a bigger name. He has done a lot to maneuver around the cap constraints the Canucks face, but his performance so far has been a breath of fresh air for the organization.
Allvin’s Signings With the Canucks
During the 2022 free-agent period, Allvin showed reservations about signing flashy names in his first go-around. The biggest signing was Ilya Mikheyev, who signed a four-year contract worth $19 million. Aside from him, the other signings had an average annual salary (AAV) of one million or under. Dakota Joshua, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Christian Wolanin, and Curtis Lazar are all cheap signings that provided good depth and value for the Canucks during the 2022-23 season.
This year, he addressed the Canucks defensive issues and lack of a third-line centre. The organization signed defencemen Ian Cole to a one-year, $3 million deal and Carson Soucy to a three-year contract with an average annual salary AAV of $3.25 million. Two good defensive signings bring stability to the blue line without much risk. Teddy Blueger, their new third-line centre, signed a one-year, $1.9 million contract. The contract may be a smidge over his worth, but the term voids any worries. They also signed depth defenceman Matt Irwin. He will make $775,000 against the cap for one year.
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Allvin’s slow approach to free agency should bring optimism to the fanbase. These past two free-agent periods are a significant improvement from Benning. Gone are the days of fans getting stressed on July 1st, worrying that the Canucks will self-sabotage. Now, as Allvin slowly cleans up the club’s cap mess, his new additions should not hurt the team in the future.
Allvin’s Signings Aren’t Flashy But Safe
Allvin’s free agent signings are not flashy names that get fans out of their seats. Mikheyev, the most expensive of the bunch, is an excellent penalty-killing middle-six winger. The Canucks do not need to chase marquee names, as they have their stars. Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Andrei Kuzmenko are their core. Fans will have mixed opinions on their ability to contend for a Stanley Cup, but surrounding them with cheap contracts that fit the team’s style is the ideal route to take. Of course, adding star talent when applicable is always a good idea, but chasing free agents typically leads to an overpayment in money and term.
Allvin has yet to sign and commit big money to free agents. With the cap expected to jump next summer and more money at his disposal, fans will truly see how he handles signing big contracts, if applicable. From his two-year track record, despite the low sample size, Allvin has shown he can manage the Canucks finances.
Sometimes the best free agent decision is who a team doesn’t sign rather than who they do. For example, if Benning resisted signing Myers, the Canucks would not currently be tight against the cap, needing to add sweeteners to offload his deal. As it stands, the Canucks need to unload Myers’ contract or another player, likely Brock Boeser or Conor Garland, if they want to keep re-tooling their roster. With Allvin, these issues will soon cease as he signs fair deals, easing the Canucks tense salary cap problem.