The Canucks are reportedly still active in the trade market and free agency, trying to find a way to shed some salary and add another piece or two to the roster. At the same time, they’ve got some work to do at home, with several restricted free agents that need new contracts.
A few of those players are AHL depth that might get some NHL time in the coming season — Justin Bailey, Guillaume Brisebois, and Jalen Chatfield — but there are two bigger names on the list: Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette.
Virtanen has filed for arbitration and is in for a tricky negotiation. Gaudette, on the other hand, has little leverage. He’s what’s known as a 10.2(c) free agent: he doesn’t have enough seasons to be eligible for either arbitration or an offer sheet, so he has no choice but to re-sign with the Canucks.
Gaudette had 33 points in 59 games and was a key driver on the second power play unit, so the Canucks don’t want to grind Gaudette down too hard; he’s an important part of the team’s future. Still, this is an opportunity for the Canucks to save some money in a tight cap situation, so they need to get Gaudette to be a bargain in the coming season.
Evolving Hockey’s contract projections, which use past contracts for similar players to predict future contracts, suggest a two-year bridge contract with a cap hit of $1.365 million per year. If the Canucks can get that down to $1.2 million, they’d likely be very happy, especially when comparable players got much richer deals, albeit not as 10.2(c) free agents.
(EDIT: Things move quickly in the off-season. Gaudette has re-signed at an even bigger bargain than expected: one year, $950,000. That will help out with the cap crunch. More to come.)
There’s one thing the Canucks have to keep in mind in contract negotiations, however: Gaudette just isn’t a winner.
I don’t mean on the ice. I mean online, where Gaudette just can’t seem to master 2020’s hottest new video game: Fall Guys.
When he had to quarantine because of the coronavirus, Gaudette took up a new hobby: streaming on Twitch. It’s not only fun for Gaudette, but also a great way to connect with Canucks fans.
Gaudette spends most of his Twitch streams playing first-person shooters like the Call of Duty series, but he switched things up for a video he posted on his YouTube channel, playing the much more kid-friendly game Fall Guys.
A multiplayer battle royale game inspired by ridiculous game shows like Wipeout, Fall Guys is like the greatest obstacle course ever created. Dozens of players compete in absurd races and games, with a large number of players eliminated each time until only one player remains as champion. It’s ludicrously fun and addicting, but also surprisingly challenging.
While the game may be kid-friendly, Gaudette’s video is decidedly not. As is fitting for a hockey player, there’s a fair amount of salty language, so headphones are recommended if you’re watching this at work, unless you’re working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which case, put some pants on. Have some self-respect.
After designing his jelly-bean-like avatar — “I like those little undies” — Gaudette jumps into the game and immediately gets owned by the first obstacle course, leading to a massive stream of completely understandable swearing.
Watching Gaudette get knocked silly all over the course is surprisingly entertaining, but it becomes evident that he clearly needs more practice. “I was doing so well,” becomes a constant refrain.
“Quit hockey to be a streamer?” says Gaudette at one point, reading a comment from a viewer. “No, I can’t do that. I’m not a good enough streamer.”
No, he isn’t. Also, he’s going to be paid millions of dollars to play an entirely different game.
Later in the stream, Gaudette’s wife Micaela shows up — they got married in June — along with their adorable dog Zeus.
“I’m nervous,” says Micaela when she takes the controller. “Nervous I’m going to say a lot of curse words.”
She manages to avoid that but has no more luck than her husband at the game. “It’s just not for me,” she says as she gives up. Perhaps Adam and Micaela are going about this the wrong way. Maybe they need to play together with one controller, as Australian streamer Mr. A-Game and his girlfriend did in a recent video, winning the whole shebang.
Give it a try, Gaudettes. What could go wrong?