Canucks likely need to trade one of these four expensive wingers

May 12 2023, 11:13 pm

What are the Vancouver Canucks going to do?

They’re already over the salary cap for next season, so they’ll need to do something.

Patrik Allvin and company would love to clear cap space, but the question is how.

It’s something the new Canucks regime has talked about ever since Jim Rutherford was hired as president of hockey operations 17 months ago.

In his first offseason as general manager, Allvin took a patient approach last summer. Part of that had to do with being reluctant to take a step back and shooting for the playoffs.

But patience was also part of the recipe.

Eventually, Allvin settled for moving Jason Dickinson and his $2.65 million contract. It took a second-rounder to get it done, along with the acquisition of Riley Stillman.

So who can they move this offseason?

The Canucks are thin at centre after Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller, thin on defence after Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek, and thin in goal after Thatcher Demko.

Where they have a lot of depth, and money tied up, is on the wings.

Five Canucks wingers — Brock Boeser, Andrei Kuzmenko, Conor Garland, Ilya Mikheyev, and Anthony Beauvillier — are all due to make over $4 million next season. It’s a luxury this team simply can’t afford, which makes trading one of them a logical move in the name of clearing cap space.

Given that Kuzmenko is coming off a 39-goal, 74-point season and just signed a two-year contract extension paying him $5.5 million annually, let’s assume he stays.

Here’s a look at the other four.

Brock Boeser ($6.65 million)

Let’s start with an obvious one.

Boeser wanted out of Vancouver, and the Canucks tried to accommodate the winger’s request. But the 26-year-old is still here, and late last season he indicated that he had a change of heart.

Boeser scored 55 points (18-37-55) in 74 games and played his best hockey late in the season under Rick Tocchet.

With two years left on his contract, paying him $6.65 million annually, it’s unlikely that he’ll be worth that kind of money. That probably makes him hard to move, without eating part of his contract or attaching a draft pick.

The Canucks don’t have a second-round pick in each of the next two drafts and can ill-afford to move a first-rounder.

All that might equal the Minnesota native returning to the Canucks again next season.

Conor Garland ($4.95 million)

Similar to Boeser, Garland’s stock is low right now.

The 27-year-old is coming off a sub-par season, scoring 46 points (17-29-46) in 81 games. But like Boeser, he could be due for a bounce-back year.

The problem is his contract, which has three years remaining on it, paying him $4.95 million per season.

Is there a team that would take him at full freight? He’s easier to fit under the cap than Boeser.

Anthony Beauvillier ($4.15 million)

Beauvillier’s production saw an uptick after he was traded to Vancouver from the New York Islanders. The 25-year-old scored 20 points (9-11-20) in 33 games as a Canuck, and finished with 40 points in 82 games overall.

He’s also the youngest and cheapest player on this list and has a pair of impressive playoff runs with the Islanders on his resume (14 points in 22 playoff games in 2020, and 13 points in 19 playoff games in 2021).

Beauvillier’s a player the Canucks might want to keep, but he’s movable.

Ilya Mikheyev ($4.75 million)

The Canucks have yet to see Mikheyev’s best, after signing him to a four-year contract that pays him $4.75 million annually. The 28-year-old battled through injuries in 2022-23, so he should be even better next season.

Mikheyev brings speed and kills penalties, so he fills a need. But is he too prone to injuries?

The Canucks could try to replace Mikheyev with a cheaper option, and move the Russian winger to clear cap space.

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