Jim Benning saved the best for last.
The Canucks’ general manager was active all off-season, making big moves like trading for J.T. Miller and signing Tyler Myers. But none of his deals were the one that Canucks fans wanted to see most: a new contract for star winger Brock Boeser.
Fortunately, the stalemate between the two sides was resolved just before the puck dropped for the first game of the preseason. The Canucks re-signed Boeser to a three-year bridge deal with an average annual value of $5.875 million per year.
The team had hoped to get Boeser signed to a deal prior to the start of training camp last week, but the two sides couldn’t come together on a contract. The Canucks reportedly offered a six-year deal worth $7 million per year at the beginning of the summer, a contract reasonably close to projections from hockey analytics site Evolving Hockey.
If that was the offer, it seems clear that Boeser and his agent were seeking a significantly higher average annual value than $7 million on a long-term deal, which would have been an issue for the Canucks, who didn’t have room to go much higher than $7.2 million given their current cap situation.
As a result, the only option was a cheaper short-term contract that sees Boeser still an RFA when it expires, but in position to ask for a big raise if he performs up to the lofty expectations of the Canucks fanbase.
The terms of the bridge contract, however, are very reasonable for the team. The contract projections from Evolving Hockey predicted a cap hit of around $5.78 million if the term was three years. In other words, Boeser’s $5.875 million is right around market value. That’s a positive, given the lofty numbers commanded by a couple other RFAs, like Mitch Marner’s exorbitant $10.893 million cap hit.
There are some nice benefits to a three-year term for the Canucks. When Boeser needs a new contract, Loui Eriksson’s $6 million cap hit will be off the books. For now, Eriksson remains the Canucks’ highest-paid player.
Another benefit is that Boeser will still have two years of restricted free agency remaining. If it was a four-year deal, then Boeser could have accepted his qualifying offer and gone straight to unrestricted free agency a year later. Perhaps that wasn’t something that would actually happen — Boeser seems to like playing in Vancouver, after all — but a possibility worth avoiding in any case.
Now, Boeser will be able to join the Canucks for the preseason and get himself into the flow of things heading into the start of the regular season. Getting a deal done was essential for the Canucks, who need a full, hopefully injury-free season, from their sniper.