NHL contract grades: Canucks add win-now wingers Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen

The contracts

Vancouver Canucks sign wingers Jake DeBrusk to a seven-year deal with a $5.5 million AAV and Danton Heinen to a two-year deal with a $2.3 million AAV.

If there was any doubt that the Canucks are entering their all-in, Cup-or-nothing phase, that’s gone out the window. They needed win-now wingers, and they just reeled in two of them.

We’ll start with DeBrusk, by far the higher-profile of the two. Much of his time in Boston was marked by a lack of security — and he now has that in spades. Seven years is a long time. On the team side, that might cause some consternation, which is understandable; he’s not the most consistent player you’ll ever see. It’s not one-sided, though. Tacking on an extra year or two makes the hit more manageable for the Canucks, and that counts for plenty. The other option, especially after Jake Guentzel signed elsewhere, was failing to meaningfully improve the roster’s single biggest weakness. This team just put up 109 points. That shouldn’t be any sort of option at all.

The biggest reason to like this contract for Vancouver: It makes Elias Pettersson better. The Canucks flat-out needed to sign someone like DeBrusk to play alongside their franchise center, who deserves a) individual blame for his playoff struggles and b) slack due to the quality of his linemates. DeBrusk, for example, isn’t Ilya Mikheyev. He scores, reliably, at a 25-goal pace — last season he had 19, but played with a broken hand late in the season — and has become a more well-rounded player over the last few years. This is a no-doubt, top-six guy at a reasonable cost. The streakiness should be a concern, but the talent isn’t in doubt. If he does what he’s capable of doing, it won’t matter that he’s overpaid as a 33-year-old.


Heinen isn’t going to be as impactful, but he’s still a nice addition. He’s scored 0.94 goals/60 over the last season, which is more than players like Conor Garland and Teuvo Teravainen, and he’s done that playing mainly on the bottom six. He’s fast and kills penalties, too. Just a solid player who seems destined to score a big playoff goal or two, and someone who can move up and down the lineup. He also probably allows Pius Suter to play center, which improves Vancouver’s depth at another position.

DeBrusk contract: B-
DeBrusk fit: A

Heinen contract: B+
Heinen fit: A

(Photo of Jake DeBrusk: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

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