Sep 032009

After signing Roberto Luongo to a 12-year/$64 million deal, Mike Gillis went on a few sports shows, including the FAN 590 where he revealed this little nugget about Lui’s no-trade clause:

There is a point in time where Roberto can, if we’re not on track in a number of years, he can ask and we would accommodate a move for him. And there’s another one that’s reciprocal for us.

Gillis wasn’t specific on the date, but I’d dare guess that Lui’s out clause is around the time period the Sedins’ contracts expire and the Canucks’ is around the time he turns 38 years old.

But anyway…

A 12-year commitment is a long commitment, and there were some concerns that it may have been too long. Now that we know that there are, in fact, a couple of out clauses should quell those concerns. From the Canucks’ perspective, the ability to move Luongo (albeit limited) gives them some flexibility to rebuild down the road.

Sep 022009

As a Canucks fan, I can’t help but feel giddy about the news today that Roberto Luongo has signed a 12-year contract extension. His annual salary breaks down as follows:

  • 2010-2011 $10 million
  • 2011-2012 $6.716 million
  • 2012-2013 $6.714 million
  • 2013-2014 $6.714 million
  • 2014-2015 $6.714 million
  • 2015-2016 $6.714 million
  • 2016-2017 $6.714 million
  • 2017-2018 $6.714 million
  • 2018-2019 $3.382 million
  • 2019-2020 $1.618 million
  • 2020-2021 $1 million
  • 2021-2022 $1 million

I agree the term is long – and no doubt it is a risk – but the resulting cap hit is a very respectable $5.3 million.

Think of what signal this signing sends to Vancouver Canucks fans and the rest of the league – by locking up Luongo long-term, the Canucks will now have one of the best goaltenders in the world during what should be the best part of his career, something Mike Gillis mentioned in an interview after the signing (via Pierre Lebrun, ESPN).

“If we were ever going to do [a long-term deal], this is the guy to do it with,” Gillis told on Wednesday. “You look at the position and the fact that in all likelihood he’s the best player at his position currently in the league. To purchase his prime time is something we had to do.”

And it’s something other players will look at when exploring their options in the free agent market. When Gillis stated that he wanted Vancouver to be a desirable place to play in, a lot of us focused on the off-ice stuff: the sleep experts, the travel analysis, the personal nutritionists, etc. On-ice, he now has Luongo as a selling point for the next 12 years as well. And while I realize this signing was just made official today, I’m sure it’s (i.e. the plan of signing Luongo long-term) something he mentioned during the negotiations with the Sedins, Burrows and Bernier and something he’ll mention when he sits down with Kesler and Mitchell.

Only a couple of weeks ago, Richard lamented the fact that Mike Gillis hasn’t yet pulled a signature move. Well, this is it. With one contract, Gillis has changed the face of this franchise. With Luongo in goal, the Canucks should be contenders for the better part of the next decade. Like Martin Brodeur’s teams are and like Patrick Roy’s teams were. Of course, the hope is that, like Brodeur and Roy, Luongo can bring the Canucks to the promised land.

Sep 022009

And I couldn’t be happier. Terrible game against Chicago aside, the man is bad ass. He’s committed, the Sedins are on board, and Gillis is doing whatever he can. The defence is re-stacked (I think I just made that word up), our baybee prospect cupboard is now respectable, I have a newly declared Canucks boyfren, and Welly lost 18 pounds and will henceforth be known as Kate Moss. The Canucks are ready to ROCK YOUR WORLD, bishes!!!1

Now go have a drink in Luongo’s honour. Make sure it tastes like delicious kick saves.



Sep 022009

It broke early, but was a nice thing to wake to. The Canucks are now justifying the rumours that ravaged Twitter thanks to the fake Luongo account and reporting that the superstar netminder has inked a 12 year contract extension. As club policy the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s obviously front loaded, and rumoured to be 64 million dollars. That would work out to 5.33 million dollars against the cap which for a star goaltender like that is all you can ask.

Luongo had this to say on the signing.

I love playing in a passionate hockey city like Vancouver and along with my teammates I am committed to doing everything I can to help make this a championship team.

The deal does include a no trade and no movement clause.

Right now Gillis isn’t looking too bad.

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.

Aug 222009

Gillis made clear upon his arrival to the franchise that he was a mover and a shaker, while I got the impression some of the things he said were almost a show for the media, other things he said, he’s stuck by.

Gillis has struggled to put his mark on the team, to make that one move that marks the Canucks as Gillis’ Canucks – yet. After suggesting to the media and the fans that he was coming in with a revolving door policy, he’s stayed quiet relative to what we’d come to expect, and now facing the restructuring of contracts, and architecture of the team round a salary cap, he’s handcuffing himself by trying to build a franchise around too many pieces.

In the salary cap era, the team’s that succeed are built around one super star. Gillis is trying to build a Canucks team around Luongo and the Sedins, something that financially is a stepping stone in the road to disappointment and disaster. While the Sedins are not labeled as superstars, they are amongst the league’s top tier of players, and well Luongo has a 30 foot posterization of himself at the NHL store, so I think that speaks for his superstar status.

Gillis has locked up the Sedins for 13 million dollars, and Luongo commands 7.5 in the last year of his contract, their total combined salary is 36% of the Canucks cap space. Gillis needs to pick who he want’s to build the franchise around. There’s no way he can build a contending team with 64% of the cap to spend on 20 players. He’s trying, and it’s left us in a situation that doesn’t have a bright side. We’re lacking a top 6 forward, and a top 4 defenseman, something you can’t do with only ~1.5 million dollars of cap space, after locking up 3 players to over a third of your allotted spending money.

If the Burrows experiment continues to be a success, Kesler picks up where he left off last year, Demitra actually earns his 4 million dollars, and Hodgson steps up like he’s expected to, and so do the rest of the bottom 6, the Canucks could have a shot at this. Oh yeah, and it also banks on Luongo not letting in 7 goals in the most important game of his career. There are a lot of intangibles going into this season that could, can and will define this year’s edition of the Vancouver Canucks. Gillis has one year to make this “work”. If it does “work”, then next year he’s in deep. If Hodgson pans out, Hodgson’s rookie bonuses will count towards a larger cap hit and with 3 players chewing up nearly 40% of the salary, Gillis better hope for a miracle if he wants to keep Ryan Kesler and Willie Mitchell around.

You can’t build a franchise around more than one star. When it comes down to the money it’s not possible to bring in a solid supporting cast on the budget he’s left himself. Gillis now has his hands tied because the Sedins have been inked for 5 years, and if he gives Luongo what Luongo wants he’s likely to command as much as he’s making this year if not more. He deserves it, he’s the best goalie in the league, but in a salary cap era, there’s no way you can afford the right supplementary and complementary players when you blow the bank on 3 guys. Gillis is banking on Luongo being a rock and playing year round, and in the playoffs the way he did against Dallas in his first playoff run, and he’s banking on the Sedins and Burrows to be godsend. I’m not buying it yet. I’ll believe it when I see it, but Gillis’ lack of action around signing Free Agents because he’s invested too much money in too many players has hindered the team in the long run. Gillis is is taking a gamble by banking on a young team built on a lot of ‘ifs’.

Jun 262009

With the NHL Entry draft only a few hours away, the rumor mill is running rampant.

Have the Canucks re-signed Roberto Luongo to a long-term extension? According to John Buccigross, he has; according to others, not quite but close.

Have the Canucks acquired the negotiating rights to Jay Bouwmeester? As much as they’d like to, Mike Gillis isn’t too keen at the price.

Are the Canucks moving up to draft Team Canada defenseman, Ryan Ellis? Talk is that they’re interested.

Are the Canucks close to acquiring Dany Heatley? Well, the Canucks may be on Heatley’s wish list but the latest word is that the Senators haven’t received any formal offers yet.

Has Marian Gaborik moved in his new digs yet? Well, of course not, but we’ll see on July 1st.

Should be a fun day.

May 222009

- It appears I’m jumping on the Penguins bandwagon for the rest of the playoffs. The Wings don’t need another Cup. As much as like a bunch of their players, as a whole team I just can’t get behind them. I’ve tried embracing this crush on the Blackhawks that the NHL keeps pimpin, but I can’t do it. They’re kind of whiney and I find I giggle too much when they do badly. The Canes are pretty cool actually. But I’m chillin with the Penguins because of two things

1) MALKIN. His hat trick last night, especially the third goal, was mesmerizing. I could watch it over and over. He makes me want to learn Russian and have him over to make perogies and drink vodka. We can play his highlight video in the background. And how adorable were his parents in the stands?

2) LETANG! He is beautiful to watch skate and he has the most magical long flowing hair. I mean I really do want to ask him what product he uses because my hair never looks that good. TSN had a lovely but rather heartbreaking interview with Letang about how he still thinks of Luc Bourdon. H/T to wraparoundcurl. It’s hard to believe it was almost a year ago. RIP. You can’t help but cheer on Letang’s team, honestly.

- I’m not too fond of this Neidermayer brother rumour. I’d rather they worry about getting the identical brothers we already do have re signed. I’m not particularly fond of either of them, but even looking past my lack of fondness, I don’t think there’s enough cash. Scott would probably average what 5 or 6 million? Then his bro would probably want around 1.5/2 ish? It seems like Rob wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over the third/fourth line guys we already have. I suppose Scott by himself would make some sense. I’m still thinking Gillis walks away from this though.

- The Flyers are rumoured to have offered the Canucks Jeff Carter for Lui and the rights to negotiate with Matty Ohlund with possible other smaller profile players involved as well. Now, I am not on this weird trade Lui train at all and I know Gillis said he wouldn’t but Jeff Carter would be pretty damn nice to have around. Just close your eyes and imagine it for funsies. That wrist shot makes me purr…

- I think next season will be fun to watch with this little youth movement that’s starting to happen. Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner have a shot to make the team. I hope Gillis manages to make offers to Jannik Hansen and Welly and Ripper. SOB was an adventure this year but was also really solid at times. I hope he gets re signed. It’s certainly not going to be boring at the very least. I’m already jonesing for new Canucks hockey. Is it September yet?

May 152009

I disagree with Ed Willes’ (Vancouver Province) and Cam Cole’s (Vancouver Sun) pieces that the Canucks must deal Roberto Luongo.

From Willes:

This might be the ultimate example of burying the lead, but let’s pause for a moment and consider the goalies who were still alive in the playoffs before Tuesday’s games.

In the Detroit-Anaheim series, you had a showdown between Chris Osgood, the man who’s widely considered to be the single greatest impediment between the Wings and a second straight Cup win, and Jonas Hiller, a 27-year-old NHL sophomore late of the Swiss league.

Back east in the Boston-Carolina series, you had Finnish league refugee Tim Thomas of the Bruins going against young Cam Ward of the Hurricanes.

Then there’s tonight’s finale in the epic Washington-Pittsburgh series, which pits 21-year-old Russian rookie Simeon Varlamov against the Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury.

The one team that had advanced to the conference final, meanwhile, features Nikolai Khabibulin, who was available on waivers earlier this season.

So, taken in total, what does this tell you? What does this say about the need for a superstar goalie?

From Cole:

The Western Conference final, not knowing the result of Tuesday night’s game as this is being written, will feature Nikolai Khabibulin in goal for the Hawks against either Detroit’s Chris Osgood or Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller. In the East, it’s Carolina’s Cam Ward or Boston’s Tim Thomas against Washington’s Simeon Varlamov or Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury.

The winning goaltenders of the Stanley Cup since the last time a “franchise” goaltender — Martin Brodeur in 2003 — backstopped the victorious team have been Khabibulin, Ward, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Osgood, who has won two Cups already and could make it three this spring. Among the losing finalists’ goalies have been Dwayne Roloson and Ray Emery.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to skin a cat in today’s NHL that do not involve tying up $8 million in the goaltending position. And most of the successful teams out there in playoff land have found the way. That’s not to say they wouldn’t love to have a franchise goaltender, but the question is: At what point does cost exceed benefit?

I’ll forget for a moment that Roberto Luongo has a no-trade clause which prevents the Canucks from trading him unless he asks them to. I’ll bite anyway.

Simply, I don’t believe for one second that the Canucks are a better team without Roberto Luongo. I realize that he takes up a significant amount of cap space and I understand that $7 million probably gets you a quality skater plus perhaps a good role player; however, I also remember 2001-2006 when the Canucks had all those good players in front of Dan Cloutier. In only 3 seasons with the Canucks, Luongo’s postseason numbers have already eclipsed Cloutier’s:


And he’s taken them to the second round twice in three years – one more time than Cloutier and all the other Canucks goalies after Kirk McLean did since 1995. Combined.

Not fair to compare Luongo and Cloutier? Among active starting goalies, his career GAA is only behind Bryzgalov (16 GP, 1.68), Brodeur (176 GP, 1.98) and Giguere (52 GP, 2.08), and his career save percentage is only behind Bryzgalov (0.937). Granted, Luongo’s 22 GP in the postseason is a small sample; at this point however, his postseason numbers don’t scream playoff bust to me.

It’s funny actually. For years, Canucks fans were clamoring for an elite goalie. Now that they finally have one, some fans and media types want to drive him right back to the airport.

The fact is, in a salary cap world, each team is going to have weaknesses and only a finite amount of salary cap space to address them. Some Canucks fans wanted to face Detroit in the playoffs because they had Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin in goal. Some wanted to face Chicago because they lacked experience. Some wanted to face Calgary because they didn’t have much defensive depth after Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr. I admit that the Canucks have weaknesses up front, but the answer isn’t to get rid of their best player and weakening themselves in their strongest position.

May 142009
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