May 222009
 

The other day Scott and Rob Niedermayer’s agent told the Team 1040 Sports Radio they would be interested in playing for Canada’s West Coast club. Now it’s no surprise that certain players look like they’re on their way out of the Canucks organization and certain voids need to be filled. By bringing in Scott and Rob you solve a bunch of the Canucks problems at once. The proverbial killing two birds with one stone.

Where do I even start with how they’d impact the team? Ohlund looks like he’s going to test free agency so assume the vacancy there, Scott provides himself as a replacement for a top 4 defenseman, while taking less than pursuing Jay-Bo would cost. He has four cup rings, is the definition of grit and comes with the tag veteran. He also took grooming lessons from Chuck Norris, that makes him semi-indestructable.

Pyatt’s a free agent this off season. If Gillis knows what’s right he’ll let Pyatt go, and that’s where Rob can fill in nicely. He had 14 goals this year, and secondary scoring is clearly something the Canucks will never have an abundance of. If not Pyatt, then maybe one of the RFAs that could potentially get an offer sheet that is too absurd for the clearly levelheaded Mike Gillis to sign.

The Neidermayers come with many an attractive feature. Scott powers up an offensive blue-line and with Salo and Scott blasting point shots on the power play, if Sami can stay healthy, that could be lethal. Scott’s 59 points this season would certainly help, can’t argue with numbers. There’s a reason Rob’s won 4 cups. He’s a mean, hard hitting, smart-play-making, veteran player. He knows what he’s doing and on a team that’s likely to lose a veteran defenseman, replacing him with a better veteran only makes sense.

Bringing in the two helps out secondary scoring, it bolsters our blue-line, it’s leadership and a quality veteran (unlike Sundin) which will help with the likes of a still developing Edler, and even Hodgson if he gets the chance to play next year. It also helps bring more points to the blue-line and the bottom two lines, and brings more grit to a team that managed to get pushed around by a bunch of kids and a guy who’s name no one could even properly pronounce.

Another important things that plays a little into the Canucks favour is that they’ve already expressed interest. They want to play here. Gillis doesn’t have to go and woo them into considering Vancouver, that’s already done. He just has to hash out numbers. With the cap aside, a lot is still going to depend on what the Canucks sign the Sedins for, if they sign them, and whether Mats Sundin is back for a second go around with the team. Because the Neidermayers want to play here, it might suggest that they’re willing to take a little less. Scott certainly comes with a hefty price tag after just finishing off a 4 year 27 million dollar contract but Gillis has been known to work some magic so anything is possible.

May 162009
 

Gillis made clear yesterday in a press conference that amongst his priorities of inking Kesler and Luongo to long term deals before they hit free agency, and re-signing the entire coachign staff, one of his foremost concerns (and rightly so) was re-signing the Sedins.

There’s been talk that the Sedins are not worth re-signing and the Canucks should let them go. They’re asking for about 7 million dollars each, basically double what they earned per year under their old contract and while that may be warranted by the way their stats look, with the cap headed down, not this season but the next, it just not might be financially possible, or responsible to sign them for that much while being able to re-sign others and maintain this core group of players.

When you look at the way they play, there are no two players so consistantly dominating as the Sedins. They’ve been point per game players for the last two seasons, and they proved this playoffs that they can play in the post season. They can hardly be faulted for the second round exit the Canucks experienced this season. They seem to have found a third man to play with in Alex Burrows, and since he didn’t have Anson-Carter-Ego-Syndrome, he actually re-signed with the Canucks. To replace them for the money they’re asking, or slightly less would be impossible without taking a larger cap hit. The fact that they need to be together brings down their price a little and that might help us out a little more in the long run.

At the end of the day, the Sedins want to win a cup. All players do. They also want to play on a contender, and they don’t want to be split up. I think the only teams willing to take a chance on them and their salary, if they were to test the free agency waters, would be the non contenders. The LAs, the Phoenixes, the Floridas, and I don’t think the Sedin’s are willing to do that. I have a feeling at the end of the day Gillis is going to work his magic and the Sedins will take the home town discount because if they don’t there is absolutely no way this team can function properly if 21 million dollars of a 54 million dollar cap is going to 3 players.

May 142009
 

If there’s one thing as uncertain as the future of Mats Sundin, it’s the future of Mattias Ohlund.If we know anything about Mike Gillis and the way he manages his team, his lack of negotiation with is a good sign that Ohlund isn’t coming back.

Gillis has made a case for himself and making it very clear that he is not a wishy washy deal maker. He plays his cards straight. He made it clear from the day he was signed exactly what he wanted on his team. He made it clear in the offseason, and throughout the season until he finally made good, that he wanted Mats Sundin on his team. Gillis knows what he wants, and he gets what he wants.

Ohlund in a contract year was subpar at best, offensively. As a defensive defenseman he did what he’s done best on this team for 11 season. He played defensively solid hockey with few mistakes. Statisticly he had one of his better defensive seasons (he was +14 vs -1,-3,-6 in the last three seasons respectively), but in only his second career complete 82 game season, he managed to score the same number of points that he had last season, which he did in 30 less games.

I think the lack of early on contract talks seemed to have some effect on Ohlund’s play during the regular season. In the post season he had 3 points in 10 games, and in what looked like his last hurrah in a Canucks uniform he to me looked unenthused at best. I know Ohlund’s last option was to test free agency, but Gillis obviously has other cards in play. Edler who has often been referred to as “Ohlund Junior” seems to have proven this season that he’s capable of playing at an NHL calibre, and when Edler is in the ranks, and Ohlund has a subpar contract year, Ohlund’s older, the odds of him returning are on the downside.

Ohlund has indicated that he’s going to test the free agency waters, and no doubt he will be signed by someone, his career isn’t over, it just might be over as a Vancouver Canuck. Gillis made clear at the deadline that he wanted Bouwmeester. My money is that he’s going to make a serious play to bring in a more offensive defenseman and Bouwmeester is his man. The word offense isn’t something to be taken lightly on this team and you can be sure Gillis is going to make the necessary changes to make sure we have a larger arsenal next season.

The Canucks need to go younger. They need to go faster. Bouwmeester could be a good start.

May 132009
 

It seems everyone and their dog has an opinion on what to do with Luongo. Most recently the goalie graveyard theory has resurfaced and now everyone and his dog has a package deal in their head in which they want to get rid of Luongo now while he has value (in the order of one year left on his contract) and get something good for him.

Ed Willes provides an interesting take on trading Luongo. But his oversimplification and general bandwagon stench makes it clear that he and Iain MacIntyre get together and sulk in a corner on weekends.

I may have gone off on Luongo in my post after the last game of our season, but I still stand by him. He’s done more in his 3 seasons with the Canucks that other Canucks goalies have taken their entire careers to do. I don’t think he’s done yet. He’s had two playoff appearances as a Canuck in 3 seasons. In the first playoff appearance he can’t be faulted. He single handedly won us the first round, and the team is completely at fault for not supporting his play. This year in his second playoffs he can be held a little more accountable for his actions. I certainly hold him responsible for what happened in game 6.

BUT I don’t think it’s time to throw in the towel with Luongo. How many seasons did we give Cloutier? We gave Cloutier 5. The only thing Cloutier has done that Luongo hasn’t is play more games in a single playoffs.

Luongo has a lot to prove in this next season. Especially after what he said about signing on with a contender after his contract is up. I know by not trading him we run the risk of losing out on his worth through a trade, but we also run the risk of him turning up his game during the playoffs and making a deep run. Everyone knows what a contract year does to players. Look what it did to Khabibulin in Tampa Bay and now again in Chicago?

While the Bandwagon castrated and hung Luongo out to dry, I’d like to say that what I wrote about him does not mean I’m ready to slash his throat. I’m not part of the bandwagon that are patrolling Robson with pitchforks and torches ready to burn and pillage anything Luongo they can find. He will stay in Vancouver, and he will resign next year if not sooner. Gillis likes to make statements of reaffirmation in his players. It wouldnt surprise me if even in the offseason Luongo signed a contract extension.

May 132009
 

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.

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