This week, the Straight will analyze what might be done with each of the Vancouver Canucks’ six major restricted free agents. In the fourth instalment, we look at Josh Leivo’s fate.
After coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs in December of last year in exchange for AHLer Michael Carcone, Josh Leivo fit right into the Vancouver Canucks roster.
Is it a tad scary that a player who couldn’t get into the lineup of a team that was bounced in the first round of the playoffs—though that’s not entirely fair, as the Leafs took Eastern Conference champion Boston to seven games—was a mainstay in the Canucks’ middle-six?
Maybe, yeah. But Vancouver needed (and still needs) solid wingers able to play up and down the lineup. And Leivo delivered on that. The soon-to-be 26-year-old had 10 goals and eight assists in 49 games with the club. And while that’s not outstanding or anything, it must be noted that the Canucks only had eight players get to 10 goals. All of them played more games with the team than Leivo.
He also had strong underlying numbers (most notably a 7.6 Relative Corsi, the best mark of anyone that played more than seven games with the team).
Leivo also had a good amount of success playing with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser for stretches, and coach Travis Green will no doubt be tempted to put the trio back together next season.
What the player will want:
Leivo will want some long-term security after spending much of his earlier career bouncing between Toronto’s NHL and AHL clubs. We can see him asking for a three-year pact from Vancouver with an average cap hit in the neighbourhood of $2.3 million.
And while that would be a big raise from his most recent cap hit of $925,000, his camp will have some solid evidence to prove that he's earned it. Considering Jay Beagle is being paid $3 million a year by the Canucks, it won't be too hard of an argument to make.
What the team will offer:
The Canucks won’t want to tie themselves to a player for three years based on just over half a season of work. (Or at least they shouldn’t want to.)
We can see a two-year deal on the table for around $1.8 million per season, given the small sample size Leivo has provided.
It doesn't seem like the Canucks would budge and give a three-year deal to Leivo when there figures to be a significant amount of turnover with the forward group in the coming years. The team needs to have as much wiggle room as possible before big deals for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are signed. Then a clear vision can begin to take place.
So a two-year deal with an average cap hit of $2.1 million seems right.
He’s earned about that, given his increased production on the Canucks, strong underlying numbers and ability to contribute anywhere in the middle-six.
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