It's a giddy feeling, pulling off a big trade.
Of course, in the world of the HockeyBuzz Mock Draft, I didn't have to get the OK from ownership before I pulled the trigger and I didn't have to approach two players with requests that they'd waive their no-trade clauses.
But when Colorado's GM came to me and said he'd be willing to acquire Loui Eriksson in exchange for the opportunity to move up six spots, he had my full attention.
We went back and forth from there, and if you missed it, here's how the deal ended up:
16OA, 47OA and Martin Kaut
10OA, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter and *2022 3rd (*conditional on if Eriksson is bought out at any point in his current contract)
The 16th and 47th picks were in the deal all along. With the draft being here in Vancouver, I loved the idea of picking up an extra second.
I was originally offered a different prospect. I asked for Kaut because I think he has shown some offensive smarts and might turn out to be that top-six winger that Bo Horvat has been looking for. He's only 19, and already has a year of AHL experience.
Another option was Alex Nylander, who had been acquired from Buffalo earlier in the draft. I like Kaut better—do you agree?
I was originally asked to retain some salary on Eriksson but wasn't keen on that idea, since his contract is for another three years, the same as Roberto Luongo's. Having both those deals on the books at the same time would limit flexibility moving forward. Instead, I offered up Sutter—looking at the Avs' CapFriendly page
, I saw that Colorado currently only has six forwards signed for next season and even once their RFAs are factored in, they only have two guys in the mix who are over 26—Carl Soderberg and Matt Calvert. I thought a reliable two-way center like Sutter could have some appeal for a team that tends to get run-and-gun at times—and that moving Sutter out of Vancouver would open up a much-needed permanent roster spot for Adam Gaudette.
I got a 'yes,' on Sutter, with the conditional draft pick added if Eriksson ends up getting bought out, and the deal was done.
Even if that happens, the deal would still have the Canucks acquiring a solid prospect in Kaut, swapping a third for a second, and opening up roster space by moving out two veterans—all in exchange for moving down six spots in a draft with little consensus.
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I woke up on the morning after the deal was announced and remembered that none of this was real. But my fantasy world will extend for at least another day or so, until I make that 16th pick.
With the Avs taking Matthew Boldy at 10, Philip Broberg going to Philly at 11, Phil Tomasino going to Minnesota at 12 and Peyton Krebs selected by Florida at 13, who do you like now for the Canucks?
I have to admit, I thought there was a chance that Krebs might fall to 16 as teams show some caution due to his recent Achilles injury. But with just two more teams left to pick before it's our turn, I feel like there's still some very promising talent that'll be available.
If you missed it, Bob McKenzie's final draft ranking came out Monday morning. Click here
for his top 93 players and a chance to look at who he has ranked around that 16 spots.
I'll keep my cards close to my chest for now, but look forward to reading your suggestions in the comments!
To wrap up today, I was asked, in the comments, what I plan to do with all the cap space I freed up by moving Eriksson and Sutter. I have to admit, for purposes of this exercise, I hadn't really thought that far ahead, but I figured a team can never *really* have too much cap space.
Let's take a look:
According to the Canucks' CapFriendly
, the team has 20 players signed at $52 million, with Eriksson and Sutter both still on the books. Once they're gone, that number drops to about $42 million for 18 players.
With the salary cap at $79.5 million last year, the floor was $58.8 million. We'll get the 2019-20 cap number this week—probably around $82 million, so for the sake of argument, let's be generous and say that the new floor is $63 million.
To keep this exercise simple, let's assume that the Canucks sign all their RFAs. You can quibble over these dollar values—the important thing is the estimated total.
• Brock Boeser - $7 million
• Josh Leivo - $2 million
• Tyler Motte - $1 million
• Nikolay Golodbin - $1.5 million
• Markus Granlund - $1.75 million
• Ben Hutton - $3 million
• Josh Teves - $1 million
• Brogan Rafferty - $1 million
Also - add in UFA Luke Schenn for $1 million
TOTAL: $19.25 million
That gets the team to about $61 million.
I'd also still keep a hopechest for Alex Edler, despite today's report which presumably originates with his agent:
The irony of Edler's negotiating position is that the only leverage he has in his attempt to extract a promise to stay in Vancouver is to threaten to leave. If I was Jim Benning, I'd be holding fast on a refusal to give a no-move clause, too, given how it would impact the expansion draft.
Call his bluff. He could still capitulate after the talking period opens and he sees what other options he's really looking at. Every other team is going to have that same expansion draft issue, so it's not like he'll get a no-move someplace else. And no place else *is* Vancouver.
I'd be happy to offer Edler something in the neighbourhood of three years at $4 million to stay. Maaaaaaybe even with a no-trade clause. But not a no-move. Take it or leave it.
If he takes it, then we've hit the cap floor. If he doesn't, we allocate the money to shore up the defense in another way.
Once the basic roster needs are addressed, the Canucks should absolutely look at what they can do to use the rest of their cap space as an asset to further improve their team—especially at a time when so many clubs are in pressure positions near the cap ceiling.
A year from now, the Canucks are going to need to open their wallets for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, so my strategy would be to try to acquire assets this year by taking on short-term cap problems.
First stop: Vegas, where the Golden Knights need to divest the last year of David Clarkson's contract, which carries a $5.25 million cap hit. Vegas is already over the cap with more than $83 million committed for next season, and that's with RFAs William Karlsson, Tomas Nosek, Malcolm Subban and World Championship star Nikita Gusev all still unsigned.
Colin Miller is one name that Vegas is said to be willing to part with. After a terrific 10-goal, 41-point showing in the Golden Knights' first year, he dropped to three goals and 29 points last season and was healthy scratched a handful of times—although by the end of the year, his average ice time was actually up a bit in the games he did play. Miller also played in Vegas' last six playoff games after being scratched for Game 1 against San Jose.
Miller's a righty, has decent size at 6'1" and 196 pounds, and has a physical component to his game. He averaged 1.9 hits per game last season. He's 26, and has three more years left at $3.875 million. I think George McPhee would bundle him with Clarkson's contract, to give himself just over $9 million in new wiggle room.
Do we have a deal?