Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin said Oliver Ekman-Larsson wasn’t a good fit here, and despite OEL being a top rate individual, the club really had no choice but to buy-out the veteran defenceman.
The club bought out the final four years of his contract last Friday, freeing up salary cap space in order to make moves when NHL free agency opens on July 1st. The Canucks will pay 2/3rds of the deal spread out over the next eight years.
In April, Allvin told the media he didn’t plan on going the buy-out route. Wednesday, he explained the change.
“I’m not a big fan of buy-outs,” Allvin suggested again. “I don’t know if anything really changed, it was more the internal discussions here that involved the (salary) cap flexibility. Also for us, as I said earlier, we will look at all the options to make this team better, and when this option was … something that we felt hockey and business (wise), it was too good to pass up to get the cap flexibility, create cap space this year and next year. We see this as a long term commitment and it’s not just a short term fix.”
Allvin also suggested that he was very happy with some of the prospects in the pipeline, listing off a number of defenceman who may or may not be capable of consistent NHL performances down the road.
He also mentioned forward Brock Boeser as a player whose performance has improved since head coach Rick Tocchet took over in January. Boeser’s contract that pays him $6.65-million over the next two seasons has often come into question in terms of value. Despite attempts to move the player by this and the previous Canucks management group, it appears there’s much less appetite to do so now.
When asked about potentially moving the Canucks 11th-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft next week, Allvin appeared to suggest “moving up” in the Draft would be more likely than “moving down”. The talent base is considered top heavy and impressive. Getting into a top-10 slot would be desirable.
“I think percentage-wise (success with top-10 picks) it’s probably higher, how much significant higher, I think the drop down is probably not as much as after (pick) 15,” Allvin said. “I was told by former GM Brian Burke that you can always move up in the Draft,” he added to laughs.
Among its overall needs, it’s no secret the Canucks have to bolster the blueline, particularly the right side. They did take one step in that direction when they acquired 25-year-old defenceman Filip Hronek from the Detroit Red Wings in March.
The top 17 players in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s final rankings of North American skaters are all forwards. The international skater list includes Austrian righty D-man David Reinbacher at number-4 and Swedish right-shot blueliner Axel Sandin-Pellikka ranked 7th.
“I think there are a couple of defenceman at the top of the draft … that have potential to be really good defenseman,” Allvin stated.
The 1st-round unfolds in Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena next Wednesday night.