Santa, Sundin, Ho ho ho

Color me giddy with the news that Mats Sundin is a Vancouver Canuck (TSN).

After six long months, the Mats Sundin saga is finally over as the unrestricted free agent has agreed to a one-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

“I am truly excited to be joining the Canucks,” said Sundin in a team statement. “Once I made the decision to return to play a few weeks ago, the Vancouver opportunity was simply the best overall fit. I want to thank Mike Gillis and the entire Canucks organization for their professionalism throughout this entire process.”

These signings don’t usually happen to the Canucks. (Heck, any sort of good fortune usually don’t.) With all due respect to Pavol Demitra, Sundin is this team’s biggest free agent signing since the other bald guy back in 1997. And it’s huge on so many levels.

Basically, in one fell signing, Mike Gillis filled a lot of holes this team had. Look at his numbers:

  • 6’5″ and 230 lbs.
  • 555 goals, 766 assists and 1321 points in 1305 career games
  • 155 goals, 284 assists and 433 points on the powerplay
  • 31 shorthanded goals
  • +78 (plus-player in 12 of 17 seasons, including 8 of last 9)

Big center? Check. Top-six forward? Check. Powerplay guy? Check. Defensively-responsible? Check.

Oh, some more numbers:

  • 35 goals, 39 assists and 74 points in 83 playoff games

Sundin enters the Canucks dressing room with the most playoff experience and most playoff points on the roster. Playoff-proven? Check.

Now check the healthy lineup:

  • Sedin-Sedin-Hansen
  • Wellwood-Sundin-Demitra
  • Burrows-Kesler-Bernier
  • Hordichuk-Johnson-Pyatt/Raymond/Brown

I’d dare say that, on paper at least, this is one of the deepest lineups – if not the deepest – this team has ever had.

Of course, the expectations for this team just got a lot higher. If Canucks fans weren’t expecting much prior to the start of the season, they’re expecting more now from the first place team that has played the last four weeks without Roberto Luongo. They’ll be expecting far more the rest of the season with a healthy Luongo and a signed Sundin.

There has been plenty of reaction on the signing.

Waiting For Stanley likes this move:

Do you really know who we just signed today? A guy that had 79 points in 73 games last season. A guy that wants to be here. A character guy in the locker room. A team player. A leader. Has Gillis let us down yet? Au contraire. The guy flogged 2 fan faves in Morrison and Naslund and turned us into a contending team with balls. What more do you want? When are you going to trust him?

He’s a Leafs fan too. He should know.

Canucks and Beyond kinda likes it:

Sweet dreams, Canucks fans. And say bye-bye to the Canucks cap space breathing room we enjoyed for a while. But that’s okay—having barely a single dime left in the bank feels like everything is back to normal in our world.

And one final thought: I’m betting that Sundin looks pretty awful for a while, but he’ll improve fast. He’s in good shape. But that won’t stop everyone from suggesting he’s washed up while he’s getting back into game shape.

So just have patience—I expect he’ll be a factor in no time.

(And for $7 freakin’ million, he bloody well better be…!)

Ditto The Humming Giraffe:

Mostly I was just a bit worried we wouldn’t have enough cap space to resign the Sedins and Matty Ohlund and Burr. Plus, he is kind of old. But maybe Gillis and his money experts can figure it out and we’ll be able to keep them.

With a healthy Lui, that line up is pretty sick. The idea of announcers calling Sedin, Sedin, Sundin on the power play does amuse me. I’m…cautiously optimistic. Canucks fans should always be cautious.

Yankee Canuck doesn’t like the move at all:

I have about thirty seconds to comment on Sundin, but in those thirty seconds I will make myself the most unloved blogger in my little Canuck family.

My heart sunk a little when I saw the TSN graphic. I disagree with Leaf-Happy Sean that this makes us a contender. Why? Because we already were and now have no cap space when we get nailed with injuries (like, oh, last night when O’Brien and Salo went down) or when we have a shot at acquiring a younger player who will stay longer than a few months and could be another crucial building block. Honestly, I still stand by every line I said when I asked him to go away.

Mike, Alanah and Alix are all concerned about our salary cap room, which I don’t understand. If the reports are true and Sundin took less than what the Canucks offered, then there’s a couple of million bucks left in cap space. Prorated at the trade deadline, this means they can acquire other high-level players for the playoffs.

Plus, as a season ticket holder, I’m glad the team is spending its cap money (and spending it wisely). It doesn’t quite make sense since salary caps are based on previous season’s revenues, but the team raised ticket prices on the basis that it was going to spend $56.7 million in salaries this year. I would’ve been peeved to pay the increase if the team left $10 million unspent anyway. Especially because this one didn’t cost the team any players, prospects and draft picks.

Brian from Canucks Corner mentions the cap as well:

In a pre salary cap era, the Vancouver Canucks would have had no chance of gettting Mats Sundin, because the the New York Rangers, or other teams would out bid everyone. Not knowing what really happened behind the scenes, it appeared on the surface that Sundin’s first choice was to sign with New York. It would also appear that the Rangers couldn’t clear enough cap space to make this happen, thus making the choice of the Canucks too good to pass up.

It’s kind of ironic that the Canucks honoured Trevor Linden the night before the announcement, who’s involvement with the current salary cap deal was monumental. Perhaps in an unintentional way it was Linden’s gift to the fans.

From the Leafs side of the ledger, fellow Sports Federation member Down Goes Brown is wondering why he didn’t waive his no-trade clause last year because he wanted to remain a Leaf… only to leave anyway. His message to Mats? Sundin’s legacy rests on his ability to win the Cup with Vancouver.

So I hope that highlight package has a happy ending. You should have won a Cup in Toronto, but that didn’t happen and towards the end we all knew it never would. So be it.

Now you’ve painted yourself into a corner where anything short of a Cup in Vancouver will be a failure, and the knives will come out. Part of me might enjoy that, but it’s not what I want to see. Because you’re a Maple Leaf. You’re part of Leaf Nation. You’re one of us. Even if at the end you didn’t want to be. If you need to win a Cup to redeem yourself, then I hope that’s exactly what you do.

This isn’t the way it was supposed to end, but it’s the best option left. Go make it happen.

Yes. Please do. 🙂

J.J. Guerrero

Founder and Executive Editor of Canucks Hockey Blog. Proud Canadian, hardcore Canucks fan. I would like nothing more than watching the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. Against the Leafs.

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7 Responses

  1. Just for fun, call him into the coach’s office on his first day and tell him he’s been traded to the Leafs.

  2. Just for fun, call him into the coach’s office on his first day and tell him he’s been traded to the Leafs.

  3. VancityAllie says:

    You know, I posted kind of negatively about him when I first heard the news, but reading this post is turning me around to being more on the fence now.

    I like the stats you’ve given and pretty good reasoning in terms of lineup and depth.


  4. VancityAllie says:

    You know, I posted kind of negatively about him when I first heard the news, but reading this post is turning me around to being more on the fence now.

    I like the stats you’ve given and pretty good reasoning in terms of lineup and depth.


  1. December 19, 2008

    […] Vote Santa, Sundin, Ho ho ho […]

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    […] Vote Santa, Sundin, Ho ho ho […]

  3. December 22, 2008

    […] + Giddiness on the west coast for the Mats Sundin signing. [Canucks Hockey Blog] […]

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