Jan 112011

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on Mike Gillis’ and the Canucks’ options when Sami Salo returns from injury. The assumption then was that Salo would eventually rejoin the Canucks and that they would need to somehow, someway clear salary cap room for him.

But maybe we jumped the gun a little bit.

Since that post, Salo himself has come out and cooled some of the trade talk.

“I’ve had so much more on my mind that worrying about the roster,” Salo said before travelling to San Jose from Denver, where the Canucks beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Sunday. “The worry I’ve had — and it’s still there — is: Can I still play? Am I going to be able to play at the top level? That question still isn’t gone completely, so I have a lot of other things on my mind than worrying about [the roster].”

Salo said he and the Canucks — their coaching and medical staffs — agree he won’t play unless there is absolute certainty that he is fit and capable.

“We’ve had discussions,” Salo said. “Both sides have to be really honest with each other. I’ve said all along I’m not going to risk the rest of my career, my life, with having a disability. I have to be really careful.

“The business is the business. But, like I said, I have to be at the level where I feel I need to be. For sure, they’re going to ask me where I’m at, and there’s no point in moving somebody [in a trade] if I’m not 100 per cent. There’s no point coming back and then finding out you’re not good enough to play. I’ve got to make sure I’m really at the top level when I come back.”

Then yesterday, I saw that Mike Gillis essentially said the same thing.

Five months after rupturing his Achilles tendon, Sami Salo is back practicing with the team, but Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis told the Sun yesterday it’s not a question of when he’ll return — it’s still a matter of if he can.

“I think people are really jumping the gun,” said Gillis, somewhat agitated over repeated questions about how he’ll shoehorn Salo’s $3.5-million cap hit into his lineup.

“For some reason, people want to discount the type of injury he had. He suffered a 95% rupture of his Achilles tendon. There are people who never walk after something like that. We don’t know if he’s going to play. He’s three practices in and it’s going OK, but it’s still a long ways off.”

So what now?

Let’s assume instead that Salo doesn’t come back during the regular season and look at the Canucks’ salary cap situation using that assumption.

The Canucks don’t have cap space – nor are they banking any – but they do have Salo’s LTIR exemption. On a daily basis, they can spend $318,871 plus Salo’s $18,817 LTIR exemption – or $337,688. (That’s $62,809,968 in annual salary.)

After waiving Ryan Parent and getting a cap exemption for Rick Rypien, the Canucks are currently only spending $328,741 in daily salary on a 22-man roster. They have a roster spot open and $8,947 in daily salary (or $1,664,142 in annual salary) to spend. If the Canucks send Aaron Volpatti back to the Moose, they have $12,240 in daily salary (or $2,276,640 in annual salary) to spend. If they waive Aaron Rome, they have $12,979 in daily salary (or $2,414,094 in annual salary) to spend.

I guess my point is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing if Salo doesn’t come back. With his exemption, the Canucks can still be buyers and add even more depth to their lineup. Hypothetically speaking, they have enough to ice a third line of Alex Tanguay with Manny Malhotra and Mikael Samuelsson. Or a fourth line of Rob Niedermayer between Tanner Glass and Jannik Hansen. Or add Andy Greene or Steve Montador as a no. 6 or 7 defenseman.

Coaches Alain Vigneault and Rick Bowness both refer to Salo as the Canucks’ best defenseman. That said, the Canucks haven’t lost a beat in his absence.

Worst case scenario, the Canucks can use his cap exemption to improve what is already – well, at least it is currently – the best team in the league even better. Best case scenario, they can make full use of his cap exemption… and then Salo comes back for the playoffs.

Dec 262010
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks Team Store had their annual Boxing Day Sale today. Here are a few (unneeded) items they had available for sale:

  • Jannik Hansen’s hands of stone – In the past 6 games since moving to the second line with Ryan Kesler and Jeff Tambellini, Hansen has 3 points (1 goal – 2 assists). I know it’s a modest 0.5 points per game average, but consider he had 7 points (2 goals – 5 assists) in the previous 28 games – a 0.25 points per game average.
  • Tanner Glass’ plane ticket to Manitoba – The fourth line has seen a revolving cast of characters; no less than 11 players have suited up on the fourth line this season. About the only constant has been Glass.
  • Ryan Walters’ motivational posters – Sure didn’t help Steve Bernier’s confidence.
  • Cases of Eggo Waffles – The Leafs don’t come to Rogers Arena again until next season.
  • Kyle Wellwood’s game-worn jersey – Comes in size XL (but some smaller sizes available).
  • Robero Luongo’s goalie mask – Some markings. Looks like a ‘C’ under the cage.
  • Ryan Walters’ powerplay playbooks – The Canucks’ powerplay improved steadily with Walters behind the bench, but it’s really taken off this season with Newell Brown.
  • 40-Year Old Virgin DVDs – Because it hurts too damn much to watch. (Located next to the Canucks at 40 books – you know the one that reminds us that we’ve had a couple of good runs but haven’t won the whole thing yet.)
  • VIP passes to the Roxy – Previously belonged to Shane O’Brien.
  • Jeff Tambellini’s plane ticket to Manitoba – Kid’s got 14 points (8 goals – 6 assists) in 20 games and the Canucks are 16-1-3 with him in the lineup.
  • Floorball equipment – Must keep away from Sami Salo.
  • Green spandex tights – Surely The Green Men’s 15 seconds of fame is up, right? Right?
Dec 222010

Before the Blues game the other night, Alain Vigneault gave a quick update on Sami Salo.

With Salo back on the ice – he’s been skating on his own for a couple of weeks now – AV estimates it’ll probably be a month before he can join the rest of his ‘mates in practice and probably another 3-4 weeks of practice before he can get back in game shape. Add another couple of weeks of conditioning (maybe with the Moose?) and we’re probably looking at a mid-March return.

(Man, that’s a lot of “probablys” in that timeline.)

The timeline is critical because Salo’s return will necessitate roster moves to accommodate his cap hit. As it stands, the Canucks are over the cap. Salo’s LTIR status allows them an exemption, but because they’re over the cap, they’re not banking cap space either. According to capgeek, the Canucks are currently spending $336,671 in salary cap space per day; the daily salary cap is $318,871. Assuming the current roster when Salo comes back, they need to clear $17,800 of salary cap space per day – or about $3.3 million in annual salary.

Given AV’s timeline, I suppose it’s possible that Salo can return before the trade deadline. In this case, the assumption has always been that the Canucks will trade Kevin Bieksa and his $3.75 million cap hit.

But what if Salo doesn’t return until after the trade deadline? I guess there’s always the possibility of waiving a bunch of players. Looking at their contract numbers, Andrew Alberts and Ryan Parent combine for $10,618 in daily salary but the Canucks would be taking a risk that they clear waivers. Subtract Rick Rypien, Aaron Volpatti (or whichever waiver-exempt fourth liner is on the roster at the time) and swap Cory Schneider for Eddie Lack until the start of the playoffs, and maybe, the Canucks do clear enough cap space to activate Salo.

In an interview this morning, GM Mike Gillis sounded very much like he wants both Salo and Kevin Bieksa in the same lineup. (Though, unlike AV, he also mentioned that there is no definite timeline for Sami’s return.) He mentioned that him and Laurence Gilman have a plan in place if, in fact, this is feasible.

I know it’s a few months away, but imagine if the Canucks enter the playoffs with a top-six defense unit that includes: Hamhuis-Ballard, Edler-Ehrhoff, Salo-Bieksa.

Dec 042010

This is Luongo’s BEAUTIFUL poetry that appeared on TSN in the intermission of last night’s game.

He then shutout the Hawks in a mesmerizing performance.

It brings a tear. Maybe he should write a whole book of poetry right before the playoffs. Maybe that’s what has been missing in the Canucks dressing room the past couple of seasons.

The guys should have a poetry night before they hit the ice.

Sami Salo: “Yearning for a titanium body”

Alex Burrows: “1 Sedin 2 Sedin 3 Sedin GOAL!”

Mikael Samuelsson: “G is for goalie F is for forward Y is for yonder Sweden”

Raffi Torres: “I Really Hate That Baby Beluga Song”

Hank Sedin: “Shall I compare you to a shiny trophy?”

Ryan Kesler: “Underwear model to Selke Trophy winner”

Nov 112010

Great piece by Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun) on the Canucks’ decision to cancel practice and attend Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial instead.

Believing there are things more important than hockey – yes, even Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens – Canuck general manager Mike Gillis and coach Alain Vigneault have cancelled the usual morning skate in Ottawa and instead will walk with staff and players to the War Memorial to observe Remembrance Day.

For once, these National Hockey League millionaires have no special privileges. They’ll merely gather in the hotel lobby, and walk solemnly with their poppies and thoughts to the cenotaph, joining the crowd of thousands who gather annually at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

They’ll watch and listen, see wreaths laid near the tomb of the unknown soldier, see the faces of war’s survivors and ponder the millions of lives sacrificed for freedom.

Perspective, Gillis believes, is a powerful thing.

“When you participate in the NHL, it’s easy to lose sight of other things that are very important,” he explained Wednesday. “It’s good for everyone to have some perspective about life. If these guys can go and see the emotions and the interaction of veterans, it will be a healthy and lasting memory.”

More here.

[update: 11/11/2010, 12:20 PM]

From Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province), Canucks players share their memories of loved ones who served.

Sami Salo lost one grandfather to conflict in the First World War and another in the Second World War. Growing up, he was too young to understand what they endured, but a mandatory one-year stint in the Finnish army gave the Canucks defenceman needed perspective. That’s why he was excited to experience the national ceremony in Ottawa, where he previously played but never saw the event live. And going through basic training helped Salo understand what his grandfathers sacrificed.

Christian Ehrhoff had a grandfather who served in the German air force in the Second World War. He was captured on the Russian front and the Canucks defenceman was thinking of him Thursday.

More here.

Nov 022010

[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and answers them in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]

A day late but still entertaining, Katie responds to your questions on Bobby Lou’s first shutout of the season, Kirk McLean’s induction to the Canucks’ Ring of Honour, volunteering at Canuck Place, and Canucks movies, costumes, and goal songs.

Stephanie (@axeguitar) asks: What do you think of the Canucks’ current goal song? If it were to change, what would you pick? And what movies would represent each Canuck player? Sedins, Lu, Kes, Burrows, etc?

Katie: The Green Day song? I don’t care for it, but it’s not the WORST song in the world. That being said, it could be better and I know a lot of fans want a new goal song. Maybe something by Muse, like “Uprising” or “Stockholm Syndrome”.

Some Canucks movies:

  • The Sedins – Twins (Arnold & DeVito)
  • Luongo – The Italian (foreign flick)
  • Kesler – The American (Clooney)
  • Burrows – The Comeback Kid (1980)

Simon asks: Why does Kirk McLean get on the Ring of Honour? What did he ever do?

Katie: This, people, is coming from a Leafs fan. Should I bother answering it? Haha sure, the team didn’t win a Cup with McLean, but they got to the Finals with him in net. He was named to two NHL all-star games AND has recently opened a restaurant in Gastown! McLean is one of the most iconic figures in Canucks history, and fans feel like if we can’t retire his jersey, we have to honour him somehow, which is why the Canucks started the Ring of Honour this year.  Let me ask you Leafs fans a question – will Dion Phaneuf be honoured by the Leafs any time soon? Oh wait, he’s been getting booed over there in Toronto. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Al asks: What kind of costumes should the Canucks wear for Halloween?

Katie: Haha, as I posted on Twitter, I thought Salo should have gone as Frankenstein’s monster (for those who know that Frankenstein was the doctor, not the creature), because he has too many replaced parts. Kesler could’ve gone as a giant, cardboard NHL 2K11 game since that’s all he promoted all summer, and Manny Malhotra could have gone as Richard Loat (aka @mozy19) since they’re apparently brothers from another mother.

Mark  (@marktgledhill) asks: Do you feel that Bobby Lou’s first shutout of the year will help the team to play better in front of him?

Katie: You know it’s officially November when Luongo gets a shutout on the first day of the month, especially up against another star goaltender in Martin Brodeur. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that when Luongo plays well (or any goalie for that matter), the team in front of him plays with more confidence and thus improves the team’s all-around performance. I think, more importantly, Luongo’s shutout will give HIM more confidence, and the kind of boost he needs to raise him to his all-star standards this season. If the Canucks are going to go on a long Cup run, they need Luongo to get into his groove early so that the team is firing on all pistons come April.

Krissy asks: How important do you think is it for the Canucks players to get involved with organizations like Canuck Place?

Katie: I think it’s very important to the community, to the team and to the children of Canuck Place to see the players come by and help carve pumpkins, or decorate, or just visit. The fact that so many Canucks spend a lot of time at Canuck Place shows you what kind of people we have playing for Vancouver, and how lucky we are to have them here. I believe it was Manny Malhotra who said that one of his reasons for choosing Vancouver was the team’s commitment to charity, which says a lot about the organization’s priorities and part in the community. I know that I’m proud to be a Canuck fan because of this.

Oct 012010

With just one preseason game left tonight against the Anaheim Ducks, the Vancouver Canucks still have several personnel decisions to make about their opening night lineup.

From Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province):

The preseason means nothing. But it’s a lot easier to take when it’s about something.

If not winning games, then winning jobs. If not answering questions, then narrowing them. At the least, you hope for unexpected moments or look for unheralded players. You want to see them force difficult decisions. But not because there’s an abundance of safe, mundane, low-rish play. You want gusto and accomplishment. Reach for the brass ring, and who knows, maybe you’ll grab a second-line winger’s spot. Goodness knows, no one else has.

And when the Canucks finally do make their decisions after tonight, expect the salary cap to have played a major role.

And where do the Canucks stack against the salary cap?

First, a primer:

  • The salary cap for the 2010/2011 season is $59.4 million.
  • A team’s salary cap hit is calculated on a daily basis. This season, there are 186 days in the regular season.
  • That means that each team has a daily cap allowance of $319,354.84 (or $59.4 million divided by 186).
  • Placing a player on LTIR does not give teams more cap space. The LTIR player’s cap hit still counts against the team’s cap; however, teams are given some relief (i.e. exemption) and are allowed to go over the cap by a similar amount when replacing him on the roster.
  • The LTIR exemption cannot be banked – the amount not used on any given day doesn’t carry over for use the next day.

Here are the Canucks’ current cap numbers, including the players who I think, for all intents and purposes, are guaranteed to make the team.

PlayerAnnual Average SalaryDaily Cap Hit
Henrik Sedin$6,100,000.00$32,795.70
Daniel Sedin$6,100,000.00$32,795.70
Mikael Samuelsson$2,500,000.00$13,440.86
Alex Burrows$2,000,000.00$10,752.69
Ryan Kesler$5,000,000.00$26,881.72
Mason Raymond$2,550,000.00$13,709.68
Manny Malhotra$2,500,000.00$13,440.86
Raffi Torres$1,000,000.00$5,376.34
Jannik Hansen$825,000.00$4,435.48
Rick Rypien$550,000.00$2,956.99
Sami Salo$3,500,000.00$18,817.20
Dan Hamhuis$4,500,000.00$24,193.55
Keith Ballard$4,200,000.00$22,580.65
Alex Edler$3,250,000.00$17,473.12
Christian Ehrhoff$3,100,000.00$16,666.67
Kevin Bieksa$3,750,000.00$20,161.29
Shane O'Brien$1,600,000.00$8,602.15
Andrew Alberts$1,050,000.00$5,645.16
Aaron Rome$750,000.00$4,032.26
Roberto Luongo$5,333,333.00$28,673.83
Cory Schneider$900,000.00$4,838.71

As you can see, the Canucks already have $61,148,333.00 ($328,754.48 per day) committed to 10 forwards (including Burrows), 9 defensemen (including Salo) and the goaltenders. Assuming that they want to start the season carrying 13 forwards, 8 defensemen, and Alex Burrows and Sami Salo on LTIR, that means they still have to add 4 forwards.

Here are the players fighting for those 4 forward spots.

PlayerAnnual Average SalaryDaily Cap Hit
Jeff Tambellini$500,000.00$2,688.17
Tanner Glass$625,000.00$3,360.22
Victor Oreskovich$575,000.00$3,091.40
Brendan Morrison*$750,000.00$4,032.26
Peter Schaeffer*$750,000.00$4,032.26
Joel Perrault$510,000.00$2,741.94
Guillame Desbiens$550,000.00$2,956.99
Alex Bolduc$500,000.00$2,688.17
Darcy Hordichuk$775,000.00$4,166.67

The Canucks will get some (temporary) cap relief by placing Burrows and Salo on LTIR. By doing so, they can exceed their daily cap amount by $29,569.89 (Burrows’ $10,752.69 + Salo’s $18,817.20) each day both are on LTIR. This means that, at least to start the season, the Canucks can spend $348,924.73 per day in player salaries.

The good news is, any combination of 4 bubble players won’t push the Canucks past their daily cap allowance. Even assuming Brendan Morrison and/or Peter Schaeffer are willing to sign for close to what Eric Belanger signed for in Phoenix ($750,000) – if either or both make the team – the Canucks can keep everyone on the roster and won’t spend more than $348,924.73 in daily salaries.

What does complicate things, however, is that, unless there are further changes to the roster (i.e. trades), the Canucks will most certainly exceed the daily cap allowance of $319,354.84 before the LTIR exemptions. This is important because if the Canucks want flexibility during the season – whether it’s to replace injured players or adding players at the trade deadline – they need to be under this amount and “save” cap space. The cumulative amount they save every day – i.e. the total amounts under $319,354.84 that they don’t use on any given day – is the amount in cap savings they can spend later in the season.

As an example, if the Canucks want to acquire a $2 million player at the trade deadline, they need to either get rid of a player making a similar amount from their roster, or have accumulated roughly $500,000 in cap savings. The latter requires them to have saved approximately $3,700 per day – i.e. they need to have only spent an average of $315,600 of their daily cap allowance – from the start of the regular season to the trade deadline. If you do the math, the Canucks need to shave about $28,000 in daily salaries from their current roster to get there. And if you look at the numbers, Kevin Bieksa’s and Shane O’Brien’s salaries add up pretty darn close to this amount.

Two points on this:

1) This is exactly why Salo’s injury sucks. While his LTIR status helps the Canucks get temporary cap relief, his salary still counts against the cap. If Salo was healthy, the Canucks could’ve iced a bottom-pairing with one of Salo or Keith Ballard on one side and one of Andrew Alberts or Aaron Rome on the other. What is more likely now – or certainly what may make more sense given their cap situation – is that the bottom pair will have one of O’Brien or Alberts on one side and Rome on the other.

2) Given point no. 1, the bigger decision for the Canucks will be on defense. There may be more roster spots up for grabs up front, but regardless of which forwards end up filling those spots, their cumulative impact on the salary cap is minimal. (In fact, I don’t see any salary cap impediment to signing Morrison to a contract.) If the Canucks want some cap flexibility during the season, the bigger moves to be made are on the back end where the big salaries are.

To put these points into context, it’s worth noting that the Canucks entered the last postseason with O’Brien, Alberts and Rome as their no. 5 to 7 defensemen; with Salo injured to start the season and Bieksa and O’Brien possibly on the trading block, the Canucks could enter this season with Alberts, Rome and Lee Sweatt in those depth positions. (Which then begs the question as to whether or not the Canucks actually have a deeper defense this year.)

Now, it’s possible that Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman feel comfortable operating over the salary cap and the Canucks don’t end up making any moves before the start of the season other than to send the bubble players to Winnipeg. Certainly, they can keep the depth they have now, though in the process they’ll have to sacrifice some flexibility during the season.

Jul 232010
Sami Salo

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

I’m at the point now where I’m no longer surprised by news of a Sami Salo injury. At times, I don’t know whether to feel bad for the guy or laugh at his obvious bad luck. But anyway, in case you’re interested, Sami apparently suffered another injury in Finland not too long ago. If you can’t read Finnish, the piece reports that he tore an achilles tendon while playing hockey as part of his summer training regimen. It also reports that Sami will be out at least 4 months.

Maybe it’s not quite time to throw out those Kevin Bieksa jerseys yet.

[update: 07/23/2010, 10:01 AM]

I’ve received a couple of questions on how Salo’s injury affects the Canucks’ cap situation.

Basically, Salo’s cap hit ($3.5 million/193 days = approximately $18K per day) will continue to count towards the Canucks’ cap ($59.4 million/193 days = approximately $307K per day). If the Canucks place him on LTIR, the Canucks can go over the cap by a similar amount. However, once Salo is healthy and returns to the lineup, they will have to adjust their roster and go back under the cap again.

May 102010

I suppose this was bound to happen. It seemed like a matter of time before Sami Salo, who had recently put in a decent stretch of games with the Canucks without injury, would return to the injury list.

The good news is, Sami Salo, according to a tweet from Jason Botchford, did not rupture a testicle.

The bad news is, a 100 mph shot in that, ummm, area, still hurts like a bitch.

Remember last year when he joked around with the media after another injury?

Sami Salo arrived in Chicago, practiced on Wednesday morning, and then faced a media horde that wanted to know what it was that kept him out of most of Game 2, and all of Game 3.

What was his injury? An ankle? A groin?

“Maybe,” he said, “It’s just a burning sensation when you pee. You never know.”

Somehow I don’t think Salo thinks it’s funny now.

From Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun):

The Vancouver Canucks aren’t giggling because there is nothing funny about the testicular injury Sami Salo suffered Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Struck by Duncan Keith’s point shot just before the first-period horn, Salo barely made it off the ice with the help of trainers and teammates and was later transported to a Chicago hospital.

The team issued no statement on Salo’s condition and coach Alain Vigneault promised to know more today.

It’s almost inconceivable the Finnish defenceman will play Tuesday, when Vancouver must win again to force a seventh game in its first-round NHL playoff series.

From Jim Jamieson (Vancouver Province):

Leading 2-0 on goals by blueliners Christian Ehrhoff and Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks were killing a penalty in the final seconds of the first period when key D-man Sami Salo was hit in front of the net by a Duncan Keith slapshot in the spot that most males would cringe at the thought of.

Salo lay on the ice writhing in agony for several minutes after the period ended and had to be helped to the Canucks’ dressing room by Vancouver trainers still hunched over. He didn’t return and it was reported that he was taken to Northwestern Hospital with a suspected ruptured testicle. If Salo can’t play in Tuesday’s Game 6, it’ll be up to Aaron Rome, now healthy, to fill in.

While losing Salo – a key shutdown defenceman and penalty killer – will certainly hurt the Canucks if he misses Game 6 in Vancouver, the rest of the defence corps did yeoman work coping without him.

[Update: 05/10/2010, 9:11 AM]

It seems like somebody has already created a “Sami Salo: History Will Be Made” parody.

That didn’t take long.

[Update: 05/10/2010, 9:14 AM]

Here’s the latest courtesy of a Dan Murphy tweet:

Sami Salo is walking gingerly to the Canucks charter. AV will give an update during media avail in Vancouver later today.

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