Cancel your Netflix subscriptions, we've got a blockbuster on our hands.
The Vancouver Canucks dropped a bomb on the hockey world Friday evening, acquiring Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Jay Beagle, Louis Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2021 seventh-round pick.
As per the terms of the deal, the Coyotes will be retaining 12% of Ekman-Larsson's salary, which equates to $1.2 million per season.
It's hard to think of a more massive trade in recent memory, with both teams making serious concessions in the name of cap flexibility.
The Canucks' fortunes are perhaps the sharpest of these double-edged swords. On the one hand, Jim Benning succeeded in dumping nearly every bad contract not named Tyler Myers that was cluttering up his books, clearing upwards of $12 million in cap space ahead of the 2021-22 campaign. The price of doing so, however, wasn't cheap, with the Canucks immediately eating up a chunk of that newfound breathing room by taking on 30-year-old Ekman-Larsson and his gargantuan deal that runs for the next six years.
This is not the top-pair defender of years past, either.
Ekman-Larsson's overall play has fallen off a cliff in recent years, with the former Coyotes captain producing barely any even-strength offence of his own while watching his ability to defend both the rush and in the defensive zone take a nosedive, as well. Even when factoring the retained salary into the equation, the results are still dicey. Ekman-Larsson at 88% of his earnings amounts to, more or less, a bottom-pair defender at even strength these days, albeit one who will now count for $7 million against the Canucks' cap through 2027.
From the Coyotes' side of things, this trade amounts to short-term pain for long-term gain.
While Arizona did indeed acquire three of the worst contracts in the entire league this evening, all three deals are set to expire after this coming season, and, thanks to their individual bonus structures, will cost the notoriously cash-strapped franchise only around $6 million in actual money. For their troubles, the Coyotes gain the ability to continue replenishing a draft cupboard that had previously been stripped bare thanks to league-enforced sanctions, adding first- and second-round picks to the cavalcade of sweeteners they received over the past few days from the Islanders and Flyers for alleviating cap headaches of their own, as well.
Of course, there is some optimism for Canucks fans here.
Adding Garland into the mix is undoubtedly a bright spot. The 25-year-old arrives in Vancouver following a terrific 2021 campaign in which he scored 39 points in 49 games, immediately bolstering the Canucks' scoring depth and giving them another young piece to build around. Garland is a pending RFA who needs a new deal this summer. But regardless of what that ends up looking like, the young winger is a near-lock to provide more value to the Canucks' lineup than any of the three players headed the other way.
Stay tuned. Silly season is only just beginning.