Canucks are only NHL team already OVER next season's salary cap limit

May 10 2023, 9:35 pm

Just how dire is the Vancouver Canucks’ salary cap situation?

Pretty dire, it seems.

The Canucks are in a league of their own with regard to the salary cap.

With a projected cap hit of $85,093,750, the Canucks are the only team in the NHL that are already over the NHL’s expected $83.5 million limit for 2023-24, according to PuckPedia’s updated salary cap projection for next season.

Vancouver is more than $2 million clear of the next team on the list, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Among the top-11 teams in projected cap hits, the Canucks are the only one to miss the playoffs in each of the last two years.

The projection does include the salaries of Tucker Poolman ($2.5 million) and Tanner Pearson ($3.25 million), who both finished the season on injured reserve and could be unavailable next year as well. Conversely, it doesn’t include a salary for restricted free agent Ethan Bear, who made $2.2 million last season, nor does it include a backup goalie.

The fact that the Canucks are already over next year’s cap is an impressive feat, given the team has missed the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons. They’re also getting cap relief this offseason, with Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million) coming off the books, in addition to buyout penalties expiring for Braden Holtby ($1.9 million) and Jake Virtanen ($500,000).

The highest cap hit on Vancouver’s roster belongs to J.T. Miller, whose new seven-year contract kicks in next season, paying him $8 million per year. Andrei Kuzmenko is also getting a pay raise and will count $5.5 million against the cap.

Former GM Jim Benning’s long list of mistakes is still hurting the Canucks, headlined by the cap hits of Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($7.26 million) and Tyler Myers ($6 million). But while most of the blame should fall on Benning for the situation they’re in, the new Canucks management team has to share a chunk of the responsibility.

Canucks GM Patrik Allvin avoided giving Bo Horvat a hefty raise by trading him, but he also added Filip Hronek ($4.4 million), Anthony Beauvillier ($4.15 million), and Ilya Mikheyev (4.75 million) within the last calendar year.

Shedding cap space was a stated goal by Jim Rutherford after he was hired as president of hockey operations in December 2021, and echoed by Allvin multiple times after he was hired nearly a year and a half ago.

It has proven to be more difficult than they anticipated though.

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