Canucks centre J.T. Miller is on the books for an additional seven years after his contract extension was announced on Friday. So what of the other Vancouver Canucks who will become free agents as of next summer?
Here’s a quick checklist with VHN’s thoughts or prognosis:
Bo Horvat – the captain will get signed for somewhere between $6.5-million and $7.25-million per season for a long-term extension. It’ll likely happen in the month of September. Or Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin will wait until the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend as is his propensity for these things. (Brock Boeser was signed on Canada Day, Miller on Labour Day weekend.) Wouldn’t that be fun but a little nerve-wracking.
Thanksgiving is Monday, October 10th. The NHL regular season starts for the Canucks on the 12th.
Horvat’s contract, coupled with Miller’s $8-million per season, will obviously force the Canucks to make some financial decisions based on being over the salary cap in 2023 and could affect the rest of the guys on this list.
As it stands the Canucks will need to clear about three to four million bucks and that number will go up if Russian import Andrey Kuzmenko pans out. Imagine if this guy strikes for a 20-goal season and/or 50 points. More decisions. He’s an exciting unknown at the moment playing on a cheap one-year entry level contract.
Nils Höglander – Entering the final year of his entry-level deal, it’s almost starting to feel like a make or break season for ‘Hoagie’. The waterbug is more of a scatterbug, especially around the net. The Canucks 2nd-round pick in 2019 needs to figure out the 200-foot game or he’s going to be a trade inclusion rather than an RFA signing. For now, most have him on the 4th line this season, but no guarantees with the extra competition up front.
Will Lockwood – One of those guys competing and hoping to break through at the NHL level. He’s had a brief taste of the big show and is still looking for his first point. He impressed at camp last year and he could do the same again. Unless part of a deal, no reason not to keep him around next summer. Like Höglander, he’s a restricted free agent but with arbitration rights.
Travis Dermott – the defenceman also has arbitration rights as an RFA next summer. This is a wait and see with plenty of optimism. He could have a major impact on the D-depth for the Canucks this season, particularly if he ends up playing the right side. If he’s effective, it’ll mean a raise from the $1.5-million the lefty is making right now.
Luke Schenn – The big fella could be back again depending on if he stays healthy and keeps playing on the cheap. The Canucks might very well need him given the potential crunch. He’s making $850,000 and he’ll be 33-years-old in November. No pressure, he’s enjoying himself and he already has two Stanley Cup rings with Tampa. Last seen serving as protection for Quinn Hughes.
Justin Dowling and Kyle Burroughs – The forward and the defenceman, a Vancouver native, are in a similar boat, although Burroughs is more valuable and more likely to be around as a right-shot D-man. They both make $750,000 and they’ll both be unrestricted free agents. Dowling shows spunk but is expendable with the potential growing depth up front.