As free agency rolls along, as last year, Mats is is no hurry whatsoever to get a deal. This time around though it plays into the Canucks favour, for the time being at least, as it allows Gillis to focus his efforts on signing other key UFAs and RFAs before dealing with the veteran Swede. I wrote in an earlier post that I thought Mats was worth only 2 million a year for another year in a Canucks uniform and it seems a lot of people think I’m absolutely crazy for thinking he’ll even consider that kind of money. Other fans playing arm chair GM are willing to spend as much as 4 million on the guy, so here’s my take on things.
Sundin has a value and a roll that is intangible. It’s a roll that was once played by Trevor Linden. Now before I offend anyone, know that I’m not trying to compare the two, or suggest that Sundin is a replacement for Linden, but his role and expectation from the team and the fans – should he come back – is one of leadership, clutch play, and mentorship.
Having a big center like him who can elevate his play when needed (as he showed in the series against the Blackhawks) is lacking from this Canucks team that is a few pieces away from being contenders. With the liklihood of Hodgson coming up next year having a veteran center like Sundin is even more important. But, Sundin is 38, and it’s no secret that he struggled to get back in shape and keep up with a game and a team that is moving towards faster and purer hockey.
If I have Sundin back I don’t want him to play all 82 games. I don’t think he can play all 82 games. He has the potential for groin injury and his importance and presence is needed more in the second half of the season than the first. If Sundin comes back, I want him to play the way Linden did, scratched every few games, rested every few nights, but down the stretch playing and contributing to winning 2 points every night.
Sundin wants to play here again. Gillis wants him back. He last year was originally offered a two year contract so the pieces in play all line up. Mats wants to play for a contender and there are no other teams with cap space to offer him the contract he got last year, or teams that want to take a gamble on a 38 year old injury prone center. I have this feeling that Sudin likes what’s going on with this team and he’d take a pay cut to allow Gillis to make the right moves and to stay on a team that has a legitimate chance to win every night.
If you’re willing to give Sundin 4 million dollars for the season, because that’s the going rate for centers of his calibre, that’s centers playing 82 games. I don’t expect him to play all 82, I’d be happy with 41. If he’s playing half a season, he’s only worth 2 million dollars against the cap so that Gillis can afford to fill the other gaps and bring in the one or two players needed to take this team and it’s offense to the next level. If you give Sundin 4 million dollars, he has to play all 82 games, and he wont. He can’t.