A lot of the questions looming over the Canucks as a team this year, revolve around how much of this team is going to be back next year. This is the best team the Canucks have ever had, and it wasn’t good enough.
I’ve been Mats’ hardest critic all season, but in that series against Chicago he was our best and most consistent player. In those last 6 games he had 7 points. He had 4 points in the last two games and was skating with a purpose. The way he played spoke volumes to me. It also maybe suggested he was playing that hard because he might not play another season. So there’s the question, is Mats Sundin going to hang them up, or does he return for one final kick at the can so to speak?
I for one was not a fan of the antics and games he was playing by waiting until after the All Star game to join the team. I understand his motives, but it’s those same motives of not being able to handle the brutal road schedule that make me question if I would want him next year. When you look at this series, it’s clear to see Sundin can be a difference maker. It only took him 41 regular season games and 8 playoff games to find his groove.
At the end of the day, Sundin was a point per game playoff performer which is why we brought him in, but up until the last two games we’d only seen flashes of what Sundin could do. It was only in those last two games that it looked like Sundin had finally come into his own and found the stride he was looking for since he stepped on the ice for his first game with the Vancouver Canucks. So what comes next?
I think if Sundin could play a full year next year we would see a team more dynamic than we’ve had since Bure skated. Sundin’s sheer presence opens up the ice for everyone he plays with which has seen numbers go up for Kesler and Demitra, it’s even forced people to play other lines with less tightness. There’s no doubt, even though his lack of performance at times, that he was making a difference on ice. Be it winning faceoffs, or just drawing away the double team on someone else, he has an intangible value that can’t be overlooked. Look at the playoffs, the goals he helped on, the goals he scored, they were clutch goals. The man’s slowly growing on me, but it’ll take a little more to make me a Sundin fan. Hopefully he sticks around another year. Maybe after another 82 games of watching him play I’ll finally be able to add him to my good list.
Would I give him 8-10 million dollars a year though? No way. I would certainly make him earn that. I think if he were to come back I’d want to take him for 3-4 million freeing up cap space for Gillis to attempt getting the Sedins back on board. Give him an incentive laden contract. There’s nothing wrong with that in my mind, but don’t go blowing the bank on a guy that’s likely going to struggle to make it to the end of the season. Keep in mind, Sundin is known to get injured and I can’t believe that groin is getting better with age. At least when he’s on the IR it doesnt count as a cap hit.