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NHL Notebook: Vancouver Canucks buyout defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and a new top 50 free agent list drops

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Photo credit:Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
8 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks made a big move on Friday afternoon buying out the contract of defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The defenceman had four years left on a contract paying him a staggering $8.25-million, and the Canucks will now be on the hook for two times that length.
The 31-year-old defenceman joined the Canucks in a July 2021 blockbuster that saw he and forward Conor Garland go from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, the 9th overall pick in 2021 (Dylan Guenther), a 2022 2nd round pick (later traded to Minnesota), and a 2023 7th round pick.
At the time, the Canucks were trying to clear “bad salary” in Beagle, Eriksson and Roussel, but it was clear they were just taking on more at the time. It was a bad deal then, and now, the Canucks will see Ekman-Larsson’s money on their books for a long time.
This season, the Canucks will save a staggering $8.083-million, and will save another $5.583-million the following year. In 2025-26 and 2026-27, they will save $2.83-million each year. They’ll lose $2.416-million in each of the following four years.
Next year, there will be a cap hit penalty of just $146,667 against the Canucks which rises to $2.346-million the following year. In 2025-26 and 2026-27, the Canucks will be dinged $4.766-million against the cap and in the final four years of the buyout, the cap hit will be just $2.126-million.
With the salary cap expected to rise by at least $4-million in 2024-25, Vancouver is banking on that alleviating some of the pain inflicted against the cap over the next four years.

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New top free agents list

Just a day after one NHL executive called this year’s free agent class “f–cking awful,” Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli dropped his latest list looking the top 50 names in the class.
A new number one has arrived on the list in Boston Bruins defenceman Dmitry Orlov, who is projected to sign a five-year deal paying him an AAV of $6.25-million.
One Oilers player made the list in Nick Bjugstad, who is projected to sign a two-year deal paying him $2.3-million.
Here’s some of what Seravalli wrote about Orlov and the class, as well as the top 10 names on the list:
That sound you hear is the cash register cha-chinging for Dmitry Orlov.
With two of the premier defensemen taken off the board in an already thin free agent class – by virtue of the Kings re-signing Vladislav Gavrikov and Columbus snapping up Damon Severson – the Boston Bruins’ trade deadline acquisition is in prime position to cash in two weeks from now.
Orlov, 31, has risen to the top of the class as No. 1 on Daily Faceoff’s latest Top 50 Free Agents ranking. AFP Analytics is projecting Orlov to sign for the highest salary cap hit of any remaining pending free agent, and based on the new deals for Severson (8 x $6.25 million) and fellow countryman Gavrikov (2 x $5.875 million), their projection of $6.25 million feels low. In fact, some teams have clamored in recent days that Orlov could fetch as much as $8 million per year, dependent on the term of the deal. That goal may be lofty, but he’s going to get paid.
Orlov was edged in projected total dollars only by Bruins teammate Tyler Bertuzzi, whom Boston is working to try and re-sign by clearing cap space to keep him. Taylor Hall and Matt Grzelcyk are members of the latest Trade Targets board as a result, Brandon Carlo could also be in that mix and Mike Reilly is a buyout candidate.
PlayerPosAgeTeamCap HitGPGPTSAFP Projection
1Dmitry OrlovLD31BOS$5.1M667365 x $6.25m
2Tyler BertuzziLW28BOS$4.75M508306 x $5.25m
3J.T. CompherC28COL$3.5M8217525 x $5.3m
4Ryan GravesLD28NJD$3.17M788265 x $5.1m
5Alex KillornRW33TBL$4.45M8227644 x $5.25m
6Michael BuntingLW27TOR$950K8223495 x $5.25m
7Ryan O’ReillyC32TOR$7.5M5316303 x $5.5m
8Patrick KaneRW34NYR$10.5M7321573 x $5.75m
9Ivan BarbashevLW27VGK$2.25M8216454 x $4.2m
10Adin HillG27VGK$2.18M272.50.9152 x $3.3m

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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