The Free Agent frenzy underway, Canucks fans are waiting with baited breath to see what Gillis’ next move will be. After making a small move and grabbing Aaron Rome formerly of Columbus for 550,000 for one year, Gillis is playing smart. He’s courting Free Agents that can handle waiting a day or two before signing their lives away a la Hossa to the tune of 12 years 60 million.
Gillis’ plan involves getting younger, getting faster, and as is always the case, increasing scoring. The Canucks now need to find a top 4 defenseman and top 6 forward. So what are the options that are affordable?
Gaborik is the most coveted remaining free agent and if the rumours are true he wants to don the Blue and white with green trim next season. No amount of money could have kept him in Minnesota and his ties to Demitra make Vancouver the favourite to pick him up. Based on Gaborik’s previous price tag of 7.5 million that would leave the Canucks with little cap room to work and pick up that top 4 defenceman.
Gaborik is likely to sign for less if it’s a longer termed deal, which would allow the Canucks to splash into the defense pool, but either way the Canucks are going to run close to the cap this year. When it comes to defenseman I like the look of 2 players in particular: Francois Beauchemin and Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Both players’ price tags were $1.6 million last year, and while in for perhaps a raise, they would not hinder the Canucks chances of signing that all important top 6 forward. Beachemin and Bergeron are 29 and 28 respectively so they would give back a few years to the blue line. Beauchemin also has a shot as mind blowing as Salo and Edler – having a third cannon from the point would be a huge bonus. Bergeron can skate and is a good puck moving defenseman. He’s more offensive than Ohlund, and while he comes with a few defensive flaws, that’s something that can be fixed the same way O’Brien fixed his game.
If the Canucks can’t afford Gaborik, a cheaper plan B sniper would be Maxim Afinogenov assuming Buffalo chooses to pass on him. If the Canucks can’t pick up Gaborik I would be extremely happy to see them pick up Ales Kotalik. He only played 19 games last season amounting 7 goals and 11 points, but as a third man to play with the Sedins he would be a great fit. Kotalik and Afinogenov both have speed to play with the Sedins and that would allow Burrows to play on the second line with Kesler and (hopefully) Sundin. The other thing that’s nice about Max and Alex, they’re shoot first snipers. Goes well with the Sedins cycling and passing.
The Canucks holes right now are that scoring forward and top 4 defenseman. Gillis isn’t rushing to make any signings, but he’s a smart man and he’s proved that so far. He’s yet to make his mark on this team, and the future of Mats Sundin does impact what other needs the Canucks might have, but for the time being Beauchemin would be a brilliant pick up, and any of the aforementioned forwards would be good fits with the twins.