Hear me out here.
Prior to Roberto Luongo’s retirement announcement earlier this week, the Vancouver Canucks were readying, reportedly, a very large (and very ridiculous) offer to free agent defenseman Tyler Myers.
Then the Luongo announcement came. And with him not going on long-term injured reserve, a deal that saves the Panthers several million dollars, it instead is going to cost the Canucks just over $3 million per season in what’s called a cap recapture penalty for the next three seasons, thanks to the agreement in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement on back-diving contracts.
Now, Luongo owns the 11th highest AAV on the Canucks and general manager Jim Benning has $17.6 million to play with, per CapFriendly (and after Saturday’s buyout of Ryan Spooner), and some restricted free agents left to sign, including a big one in Brock Boeser.
[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]
While some may think Luongo screwed the Canucks here, planting a $3 million cap hit over the next three seasons as one final dig at the team after a tumultuous end to his tenure in the city, it might be a bit of a blessing in disguise.
Now, it’s not a literal blessing. The move still sucks for the Canucks, who would rather have that cap flexibility, but if it prices Benning out of a move to bring in Myers, that could save the team a lot more in the long run.
Myers may be a serviceable third-pairing defenseman, but $7 million or more for him is top-pairing money that would be better set on fire as it would at least provide some warmth in that dark hour.
Benning appears to want to have his cake and eat it, too. The Canucks seem to be putting together a nice little rebuild, but he’s already traded a first-round pick to take J.T. Miller off the hands of the cash-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning.
Miller is a great get, but the price is what is puzzling. First round picks are gold in today’s NHL, the cornerstone of re-building a franchise. Seeing as other teams are getting quality players from cap-crunched teams and not having to spend first-rounders to do so, it would seem like that trade was less than ideal.
Further hurting the future would be adding Myers for seven years in the $50 million range. Similar defensemen, at least statistically speaking, could be found for a fraction of the price.
Rebuilds hardly have shortcuts, and cutting corners only adds unnecessary risk.
If Luongo prevented, inadvertently, the signing of Myers, his final parting gift didn’t just come in a newspaper ad.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck.