Aug 252009
 

Unlike Richard, I don’t believe that Gillis is spending too much money on too few key pieces. (Hey, just because we write on the same site doesn’t mean we can’t have different opinions.) While I agree that the Sedins and Luongo (current contract and any future contract extension) take up more than one-third of the Canucks’ cap room, I don’t think this necessarily means that he has handcuffed himself financially, and a quick trip down the salary cap era memory lane proves this.

In the 2006/2007 season when the salary cap was at $44 million, the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup with 39% of their cap space dedicated to three players: Scott Niedermayer ($6.75 million), Chris Pronger ($6.25 million) and Jean-Sebastian Giguere ($3.99 million). Add Teemu Selanne ($3.75 million) and Andy Macdonald ($3.3 million) and that’s 55% of their cap space dedicated to five players. The other Stanley Cup finalist that year, the Ottawa Senators, had 36% of their cap space to three playes: Wade Redden ($6.5 million), Daniel Alfredsson ($4.677 million) and Dany Heatley ($4.5 million). Include Jason Spezza ($4.5 million) and Martin Gerber ($3.7 million) and that’s 54% of their cap space dedicated to five players.

In the 2007/2008 season when the salary cap was at $50.3 million, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup with 40% of their cap space dedicated to three players: Nicklas Lidstrom ($7.6 million), Pavel Datsyuk ($6.7 million) and Brian Rafalski ($6 million). Add Dominik Hasek ($4.05 million) and Nicklas Kronwall ($3 million) and that’s 48% of their cap space dedicated to five players.

Likewise, when the salary cap was at $56.6 million last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup with 33% of their cap space dedicated to three players: Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million), Sergei Gonchar ($5 million) and Marc-Andre Fleury ($5 million). Add Evgeni Malkin ($3.834 million) and Brooks Orpik ($3.75 million) and that’s 46% of their cap space dedicated to five players. The finalists, the Detroit Red Wings, had 38% dedicated to three players: Lidstrom ($7.45 million), Marian Hossa ($7.45 million) and Datsyuk ($6.7 million). Add Rafalski ($6 million) and that’s 49% dedicated to four players.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the three previous Stanley Cup winners and finalists all committed big money to a select few players.

This isn’t to say that Gillis’ game plan will guarantee a Stanley Cup to Vancouver, but it at least says it’s possible. However, what will ultimately determine the Canucks’ success are two things: 1) whether or not Gillis committed the money to the right players, and 2) whether or not he can surround those players with the proper surrounding cast.

With regards to the first point, I believe the Sedins and Luongo is as good a group of three players to start building a team around. The Sedins are generally acknowledged as top-20 players in the NHL and both are signed to reasonable cap hits of $6.1 million each. If Gillis hadn’t re-signed them, his alternatives would have been to either start a full-blown youth movement and promote the likes of Kesler, Burrows, Hodgson, Grabner and Schroeder to more prominent roles, or take his chances that he could’ve signed two marquee unrestricted free agents to replace the Sedins. The former would kill the Canucks’ chances of signing Luongo to a contract extension; in hindsight, the latter wouldn’t have been likely considering what the marquee free agents signed for. (Well, I suppose he could have signed any two of Gaborik, Havlat, Hossa, Cammalleri and Gionta during the free agency frenzy, but then the Canucks would still be in the same position cap-wise.)

IMHO, the second point is where Gillis made his biggest strides. Fans can criticize the Mats Sundin and Pavol Demitra signings all they want, but both helped provide the Canucks with a legitimate second scoring line. Other Gillis signings, Ryan Johnson, Kyle Wellwood, Steve Bernier, Shane O’Brien and Darcy Hordichuk all had noticeable contributions, unlike Byron Ritchie, Brad Isbister, Tommi Santala, etc. from previous years. (BTW, this isn’t necessarily a criticism of Dave Nonis, but I do want to point out the difference in supporting casts.) Gillis may have committed a large chunk of cap space to the Sedins and Luongo, but he’s also done a very good job of assembling a strong supporting cast with the space he had left.

  • http://canuckshockeyblog.com Richard Loat

    Great points JJ.

    The problem is, where those other teams spent a lot of money on their top 5, there’s no way you can justify to me spending 4 million on Demitra.

    I feel if Gillis spent money on his supplementary players more wisely he’d be in a better position.

    I hope you prove me wrong, but I still get the feeling that the team is missing enough scoring to get anywhere this year, and that’s something that won’t be remedied by spending extra money on players like O’Brien, or Demitra.

  • http://canuckshockeyblog.com Richard Loat

    Great points JJ.

    The problem is, where those other teams spent a lot of money on their top 5, there’s no way you can justify to me spending 4 million on Demitra.

    I feel if Gillis spent money on his supplementary players more wisely he’d be in a better position.

    I hope you prove me wrong, but I still get the feeling that the team is missing enough scoring to get anywhere this year, and that’s something that won’t be remedied by spending extra money on players like O’Brien, or Demitra.

  • Pingback: Have The Canucks Spent Too Much On Too Few? | 1HockeytownNation

  • Steve-uk

    Good points made by both J.J. and Richard. And you just know that some Nucks fans will just bitch about Gillis if the twins dont score every game or if Bobby lets in a soft one.
    On paper, we dont look like we have sure fire scorers all through the lines. But, that has been the case for the past 2 seasons. And look what happenend, we scored enough.
    I do kind of worry about Gillis signing older UFAs because it could be a short fix that could lead to problems.
    The retention of the twins and the rumoured extension of Bobbys contract is great. Gillis is showing he has head screwed on the right way.

  • Steve-uk

    Good points made by both J.J. and Richard. And you just know that some Nucks fans will just bitch about Gillis if the twins dont score every game or if Bobby lets in a soft one.
    On paper, we dont look like we have sure fire scorers all through the lines. But, that has been the case for the past 2 seasons. And look what happenend, we scored enough.
    I do kind of worry about Gillis signing older UFAs because it could be a short fix that could lead to problems.
    The retention of the twins and the rumoured extension of Bobbys contract is great. Gillis is showing he has head screwed on the right way.

  • Kevin

    It’s a little unfair to just compare the top 3 salaries. In the case of every one of the other teams they had players on entry level contracts that played exceedingly well.

    While it appears that Gillis is committed to restocking the cupboards, Vancouver simply doesn’t have the organizational depth yet.

    That sadi, I think Cody Hodgson will be a very good NHL player in the future. Sadly I think too many people are expecting great things from him this year and that’s unfair.

    The signing of veteran players is simply an attempt to ice a competitive team until all the bread in the oven rises.

  • Kevin

    It’s a little unfair to just compare the top 3 salaries. In the case of every one of the other teams they had players on entry level contracts that played exceedingly well.

    While it appears that Gillis is committed to restocking the cupboards, Vancouver simply doesn’t have the organizational depth yet.

    That sadi, I think Cody Hodgson will be a very good NHL player in the future. Sadly I think too many people are expecting great things from him this year and that’s unfair.

    The signing of veteran players is simply an attempt to ice a competitive team until all the bread in the oven rises.

  • http://canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    Kevin – I wholeheartedly agree with your post. It is unfair to compare just the top 3 salaries, but I used the comparison to show that it is possible for teams to commit a huge chunk of salary cap space to their top players and still field a Stanley Cup winning team – I don’t think this handcuffs them at all.

    And when the Hodgsons, Grabners and Schroeders are ready to make an impact much like Getzlaf and Perry did for Anaheim, and Franzen and Zetterberg did for Detroit, I think it’s going to be an exciting time for this team. You’re right that it most likely won’t happen this season, but I’m looking forward to when it does. (Personally, my ETA for Hodgson and Grabner is next season, and Schroeder the season after.)

    Add Kesler, Burrows, Edler, Bernier (and even Wellwood for this season) – all of whom are on reasonable deals – and long-term signed Sedins and Luongo and you have a team that could be good for a few years.

  • http://canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    Kevin – I wholeheartedly agree with your post. It is unfair to compare just the top 3 salaries, but I used the comparison to show that it is possible for teams to commit a huge chunk of salary cap space to their top players and still field a Stanley Cup winning team – I don’t think this handcuffs them at all.

    And when the Hodgsons, Grabners and Schroeders are ready to make an impact much like Getzlaf and Perry did for Anaheim, and Franzen and Zetterberg did for Detroit, I think it’s going to be an exciting time for this team. You’re right that it most likely won’t happen this season, but I’m looking forward to when it does. (Personally, my ETA for Hodgson and Grabner is next season, and Schroeder the season after.)

    Add Kesler, Burrows, Edler, Bernier (and even Wellwood for this season) – all of whom are on reasonable deals – and long-term signed Sedins and Luongo and you have a team that could be good for a few years.

  • http://www.VancityAllie.com VancityAllie

    Well done on your research with the cap space and Stanley Cup finalists/winners.

    I’m not ready to give up on Gillis yet. I still think he is making some good moves.

    Can’t wait to see what happens this year.

  • http://www.VancityAllie.com VancityAllie

    Well done on your research with the cap space and Stanley Cup finalists/winners.

    I’m not ready to give up on Gillis yet. I still think he is making some good moves.

    Can’t wait to see what happens this year.

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