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REPORT: Tyler Toffoli will head to free agency due to Canucks’ cap crunch

The Canucks have been unable to clear any additional cap space.
Tyler Toffoli vs VGK, jason franson, cp
Tyler Toffoli battles in front of the Vegas Golden Knights' net. photo: Jason Franson, CP

After just 17 games with the Canucks, the Tyler Toffoli era in Vancouver is apparently over.

Both TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have reported that Toffoli will not re-sign with the Canucks and will instead become an unrestricted free agent when free agency opens on Friday. The cause? The Canucks’ couldn’t clear the cap space.

After the playoffs ended, Toffoli said that staying in Vancouver was his “number one priority,” but also made it clear that his priorities could shift.

“You definitely want the security for yourself and for your family,” said Toffoli. “If things progress, and not in the right direction, then that’s when I have to think about going to a different place.”

Evidently, things did not progress in the right direction.

The Canucks had limited cap space to re-sign their three biggest pending free agents, Toffoli, Jacob Markstrom, and Chris Tanev. It simply was not going to be possible to re-sign all three, as well as the myriad other restricted and unrestricted free agents on the Canucks roster. In order to fit Toffoli under the cap, the Canucks were going to need to clear cap space by trading away an expensive bottom-six forward like Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter.

Despite efforts to do so, the Canucks have been unable to find a taker for Eriksson. With the current flat salary cap, other teams are feeling a similar cap crunch to the Canucks, so taking on a big contract is not in the cards. It’s possible the only way Eriksson gets moved is if he’s included in a package deal that brings back another hefty contract, such as a theoretical trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Unfortunately for the Canucks, that wouldn’t do much to clear space for a potential Toffoli deal.

Assuming Toffoli does, in fact, go to free agency, that means the Canucks trade at the deadline for Toffoli will be finalized. There was still a conditional pick at stake: if the Canucks re-signed Toffoli, they would send the Los Angeles Kings an additional fourth-round pick.

Instead, the total price for Toffoli’s 17 games as a Canuck stands at Tyler Madden, a second-round pick, and Tim Schaller. While the Canucks couldn’t know that they would only get 17 games out of Toffoli, that is one of the risks of trading for a rental.

It is surprising that the Canucks didn’t make re-signing Toffoli more of a priority. The play-driving winger provided a much-needed element to the Canucks’ top-six forward group and had immediate chemistry with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller. Instead, it appears that they prioritized re-signing Jacob Markstrom.

The Canucks had no comment on the report at this time.