Shane O'Brien has accepted his qualifying offer, and agreed to re-sign with the Canucks for one year at $1.6 million.
The contract leaves the Canucks with 22 roster players signed and less than $300,000 of cap space. At $59.133 million, the Canucks are just $266,000 under the NHL salary cap. A team can go over the cap by as much as 10% before the start of the season.
But the Canucks' cap number right now doesn't include Cody Hodgson's $1.6 million cap hit, or the new contract for Mason Raymond, who filed for arbitration Monday. As it stands now, O'Brien is the Canucks' seventh defenceman and, at his price that's a luxury few teams can afford.
Behind O'Brien, Vancouver also has both Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts under contract as depth defencemen.
The next shoe to drop is expected to be a trade and the biggest name on the block is Kevin Bieksa, whose cap hit is $3.75 million. There was a lot of interest in Bieska initially as GM Mike Gillis took 10 calls about his availability before he took a couple of days off.
A Bieksa deal interestingly is exactly what it would take to get both Hodgson and Raymond on the roster with some wiggle room. But the Canucks can't take much salary back as it stands now.
It's possible then that O'Brien is not a lock to last the summer as a Canuck. Even if Bieksa is traded, bumping O'Brien up, the blueliner's price tag is still unusually high, considering he would then be Vancouver's sixth defenceman.
Still, he's a better option than either Rome or Alberts. He has been tripped up by his immaturity a couple times since coming to Vancouver, but the enthusiasm he brings to the game is needed on what can be a pretty staid group of guys in the Vancouver locker room.
O'Brien can also play a top-four role for a couple weeks if needed because of injuries, and not look out of place. That makes him a good fit in terms of talent as a sixth d-man.
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