Christmas in July is Just Around The Corner

With Free agency just a few days the focus has been all about the Sedins and everyone else seems to be forgotten. The potential long term deal to Luongo has distracted us further and all of a sudden we’ve forgotten that there are more than just two Canucks players hitting free agency.

2009 UFAs: Nolan Baumgartner, Jeff Cowan, Mark Cullen, Rob Davison, Jason Jaffray, Jason Krog, Jason Labarbera, Mattias Ohlund, Michel Ouellet, Taylor Pyatt, Curtis Sanford, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Mats Sundin and Ossi Vaananen.

2009 RFAs: Patrick Coulombe, Julien Ellis-Plante, Zach Fitzgerald, Jannik Hansen, Nathan McIver, Shane O’Brien, and Kyle Wellwood.

It’s almost given at this stage that Ohlund is on his way, in fact I’m sure he’s already started packing his bags and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Brian Burke snag him right on July 1st. Oh yeah, and Taylor Pyatt is gone, I don’t even need to say more on that.

The Sedins are the X-Factor in all this because if they aren’t resigned then the Canucks have to go after some bigger names, Cammalleri, Gaborik, Gionta etc. They also need to figure out what’s going on with Sundin (a separate post to come on him later). Either way, regardless of who stays or goes, I have a feeling we’re going to see some of the farm make the big leagues this year. Jason Jaffray looks primed, and I think Hodgson has a really good shot of making it this season.

There’s a good chance that the 4 RFAs that played on the team this year will get deals again. Wellwood and O’Brien in particular. The Canucks blue-line needs all the help it can get and so it’s likely that with the loss of Ohlund the Canucks are going to have to try and find a top 4 defenceman, rather than promoting O’Brien. It looks like Neidermayer has said he’s going to stay with the Ducks so the Canucks can rule him out as a possible replacement.

In net is where things get interesting. The Canucks currently have 4 goaltenders, and it would be stupid not to give Luongo the starting position. This leaves us with Sanford and Labarbera as Free Agents – unrestricted, and Schneider with one year left on his contract. This is where it gets complicated and largely dependent on Luongo. If Luongo signs a contract extension, I have a feeling Schneider will be dealt while he has value. However, if he isn’t traded, there’s a good chance he will become the Canucks back up next season. In the perfect world Luongo will play about 70 games in the season, so a 12 game load for Cory Schneider to get into the rhythm and groove of the NHL would be ideal. In which case Sanford and Labarbera walk. I want to see Schneider stay down on the farm (since he’s in the last year of his contract and we don’t want him doing anything spectacular that demands a huge raise) and bring in Labarbera (who’s bigger than Sanford) to be Lu’s backup.

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