Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning is safe for 2018 by Alex Hoegler

With an extension looming for Bo Horvat, the Vancouver Canucks need to find a way to hammer out a bridge deal with their rising star centre.

The Vancouver Canucks haven’t had to worry about extending any of their key players in four years — when former general manager Mike Gillis extended Daniel and Henrik Sedin for $28 million over four years apiece.

But general manager Jim Benning has to extend centre Bo Horvat — the team’s leading scorer in 2017 who figures to be the superstar the Canucks build around. The key here is to find a “bridge deal” that is beneficial for both sides.

Ben Kuzma from the Vancouver Province speculates that Horvat’s extension could be for six or eight years. That’s too much for a guy that has yet to score 50 points in a season. Horvat’s not worth superstar money yet.

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Nikita Kucherov from the Tampa Bay Lightning is a good example of a bridge deal.

At the start of this past season, he accepted a three-year pact that pays him roughly $4.76 million a season.

Kucherov was coming off his second consecutive season of scoring over 25 goals and 60 points, but he took a pay cut so the Lightning could extend key pieces like Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

Kucherov gave Tampa cap space and sets himself nicely for a massive contract when his current one expires in two years.

Horvat needs to learn from Kucherov and do what’s right for himself and the Canucks. Here is why a bridge deal works best for both sides.

Horvat has a lot to prove

Right now, it’s hard to make a case of Horvat being worth more than $5 million a season. He projects to be a superstar in the near future, but so far he hasn’t put up mind-blowing numbers that young guys like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews have.

Just envision this scenario. Horvat signs a six-year deal worth an average of $5 million per season. He then becomes a consistent 30-goal, 70-point guy. Horvat has lost out on a lot of money, and the Canucks got away with re-signing him for below market value.

So what if Horvat signs a two or three-year bridge deal? Say he does indeed reach superstar status with three consecutive 70-point seasons. Now he’s on his way to a massive extension from the Canucks.

Right now, Horvat shouldn’t expect to be given elite player money. He should re-sign for less, then show why he’s worth more money in the future.

Canucks need the cap space

According to, the Canucks have roughly $8.812 million in salary cap space. Assuming the Sedin twins aren’t back in 2017-18 (or re-sign for significantly less), the Canucks will get more cap space there.

But Loui Eriksson‘s contract is stuck here in Vancouver — like it or not. Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund (both nearly 20-goal scorers in 2016-17), are RFAS next season and could each make around $3.5-4 million a season.

Assuming all continues to go well for Brock Boeser, Troy Stecher and Ben Hutton, then count on those three to eventually earn big bucks too. Not trying to get too carried away here, but saving space for other promising prospects like Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson and Olli Juolevi doesn’t earn.

So Mr. Horvat, it’s easier if you sign a three-year deal worth around $4.5 million a season. That would help Benning get his other young core players under contract long-term. Thus, ensuring this team can build a perennial Stanley Cup contender.