With free agency looming for the Vancouver Canucks, quite a few names have surfaced from recent trade rumors in the team’s efforts to clear out cap space. JT Miller’s name might be taking up most of the NHL’s attention, but another key player in Vancouver has started to gain steam since the offseason began: Tyler Myers.
Despite tallying just 18 points, Myers had a particularly strong season defensively for the Canucks. Paired up with Oliver Ekman-Larsson for the majority of the year, the duo were among the most consistent Canucks in their own end of the ice, posting an Expected Goals Against per 60 of 2.53 in over 983 minutes of shared ice time.
Myers himself played a different role than in years past, settling into a stay-at-home defender type role alongside more offensively minded partners like Ekman-Larsson and Quinn Hughes. Myers’ ability to eat up a ton of minutes for Vancouver’s depth-depleted blue line made him a crucial cog at even strength and on the penalty kill, causing his trade value to rise at a crucial crossroads for the Canucks.
While his numbers aren’t anything to write home about, there’s always a large market in the NHL for tall, right-shot defenders. But the biggest roadblock for Patrik Allvin will be finding a team willing to take on Myers’ $6 million price tag.
The Canucks are in a precarious cap situation where every dollar back helps, and the best possible scenario for a Myers deal rids them of the entire cost. But if GM Patrik Allvin needs to package Myers with an asset or retain salary to find a trade partner, is the extra cap space valuable enough?
For a team that’s already managing around $2.4 million in buyouts, the answer is likely yes regardless of the amount. But the good news for Allvin is that quite a few teams might be interested in adding him.
Friedman on Tyler Myers rumours: Vancouver has a price, if you are willing to pay that, they will talk to you.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) July 5, 2022
As far as recent comparisons go, new Stanley Cup champion Josh Manson provides some interesting insight. Myers and Manson are both right-handed shots in their early 30s with minimal offensive output and are best fit for a depth role.
Here we see how Myers and Manson compare in the advanced stats department, courtesy of Evolving Hockey:
At the trade deadline, the Avalanche sent blue line prospect Drew Hellesdon and a 2023 second-rounder to the Ducks for Manson. He also came as a pure playoff rental with a smaller $4.1 million cap hit, while Myers has one more season left on his deal past 2022-23.
Another similar case is that of Rasmus Ristolainen, who the Philadelphia Flyers acquired from Buffalo last offseason for a 2021 first, a 2023 second and Robert Hagg. While their scoring output is relatively similar, Myers has relatively stronger underlying numbers than Ristolainen, who signed a five-year extension with the Flyers in March worth $25.5 million.
Here’s how Myers and Ristolainen compare in advanced stats:
Potential Trade Options
Allvin and Rutherford appear to be holding firm on a set cost for moving Myers, which means that a cap dump move is highly unlikely. Myers also has a no-trade clause that complicates trade talks, but once it turns into a ten-team no-trade list at the start of free agency, the Canucks will have a lot more options.
Any team that could make an offer for the Chaos Giraffe will have right-shot defenders high on their offseason priorities list and needs the open cap space to bring him on board.
One team in desperate need for experienced defenders is the team right down the I-5. In March the Seattle Kraken dealt away Mark Giordano and Jeremy Lauzon for picks at the trade deadline, leaving them with a barren blue line; only Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson are signed past 2022-23.
Crucially, the Kraken also have an abundance of cap space to work with — around $23 million worth — and mostly restricted free agents to re-sign. Myers would provide a much-needed right shot to the Kraken, and Seattle might be willing to part with one of their many draft picks to fill the right side hole past this season.
New Jersey presents an interesting option for a variety of reasons. The Devils have been heavily linked to the Canucks in recent trade talk thanks to their interest in JT Miller, but their need for defensive depth outside of Dougie Hamilton is pretty glaring.
It’s doubtful that Miller and Myers would be packaged together in an upcoming deal. But given Vancouver’s known interest in 27-year-old Damon Severson, swapping right-shot defenders as part of a bigger blockbuster might not be out of the realm of possibility.
A return to Buffalo for the former Sabres’ first-rounder could make a lot of sense as well. Buffalo’s on-ice struggles over the last decade ha made it difficult to attract big free agents, and the Sabers currently sit a full $12.5 million under the salary cap floor. Myers’ no-trade clause is where any deal with Buffalo would likely get nixed, but maybe his history with the franchise could convince him to waive.
What the Canucks currently have on their side is time. If Allvin and his staff can work out a trade option for Myers before his no-trade list kicks in and teams officially start committing their cap space to high-priced free agents, it’ll give them the most bargaining power possible.
But if the Canucks can’t find a price they feel is reasonable for their workhorse defender, moving even half of Myers’ hefty contract at the cost of an additional asset or two is certainly worth exploring.
But if Tyler Myers stays put, there are certainly other options available for the Canucks to free up cap space. It would just have to come from more surprising and more locker room-altering places.
Our very own Chris Faber and Frank Seravalli joined forces at the draft in Montreal to break down a potential Myers trade.