Sportsnet is reporting that the 38 year old recently married Swede might still return to don the Blue, White and Green. After a season that saw him turn down a 2 year 20 million dollar deal in favour for a 1 year 10 million dollar contract a lot of people, your truly included, thought Mats was going to hang up the skates after this year’s attempted return.
The 38-year-old Swede is said to be in negotiations with the Canucks and could sign a contract valued in the neighborhood of $2 million to be the team’s second-line centre. Vancouver may be prepared to make a trade if it is necessary to fit Sundin under the salary cap, if necessary.
If this is true, it makes Sundin’s decision to turn down the 20 million dollar contract look genius. His cap hit would have cuffed the Canucks this season had he been a bust, and with the loss of Ohlund we would be in no position to fill the necessary holes.
When I talked to Gillis he made clear that if Mats wanted to return he would make room for him. He also made clear that if Mats wanted to return he had to do so at the beginning of the season, there were no mid-season heroics allowed. The Canucks right now are above the cap after trading for Ehrhoff and Lukowich from the Sharks, so if and when Gillis has to craft something together he’s going to have to dip into the plethora of defenceman the Canucks currently have. Top contenders on the trade block as far as value go would be Bieksa and Schneider. As for hoping, if Gillis can get rid of that 4 million cap hit of Demitra’s well, then it would be a match made in heaven.
While Gillis has made it clear he’s grooming the future and wants to go younger, faster, and bring in the younger players to revamp the offense, it’s when looking at the style teams like the Oilers have employed that you need some veteran leadership to teach the youngsters. With the likelihood of Hodgson entering the Canucks lineup next season, there is no one better to groom the future star than a veteran star player like Sundin. It would be nice to give Hodgson all the help he can get to win that Calder.
Sundin’s biggest problem last season was he didn’t have time to get his stride. By the time he finally found his stride, Luongo was allowing 7 goals a game (still a little bitter) and Shane O’Brien had learned how to score goals. In the Chicago Series Sundin was the best Canuck on the ice and it was clear he was finally finding his form. His affect on Kesler was more than noticeable, and if you put Sundin with Kesler all season you’d see the breakout from Kesler everyone’s really been expecting the last few years.
At 2 million dollars you can’t go wrong. I was opposed to Sundin last season because of him entering half way through, the disruption to team chemistry, and his age. But given a full season, the way he progressed last season, his effect on the surrounding players and the way he completes the Canucks roster, at 2 million dollars can you really go wrong?