It’s the middle of the busiest week of the NHL off-season, with the draft taking place last weekend and this Friday marking the opening of free agency. You probably know our home team made the biggest splash over the long weekend. Here are four thoughts on the current state of the Canucks.
The right move, made at the wrong time
Trading Cory Schneider is perfectly understandable. You already know the Canucks could not trade Luongo for anything of value and did not want to buy out his contract, paying him for nothing. He is still a top 10 goalie in the league, and the Canucks felt he would be for a long time when they signed him to the 12-year deal. GM Mike Gillis said that the plan was to develop Schneider and trade him for a high pick. Great plan Mike, but we all know you scrapped that well before you re-signed him for three seasons.
The $4-million cap hit made Schneider a lot easier to move than Luongo, and offered something of a return – the true value we won’t know until Bo Horvat develops. Gillis realized he should have traded Schneider last year, when the return could have been a first rounder plus a good roster player who could help now, but as the saying goes, what’s done is done.
Luongo will be fine once he settles back in the number one role. The circus will continue the first couple of weeks of the season, and then we can all finally move on.
Give the young players a chance
The Canucks prospect pool was bone dry coming into this draft, but not anymore. Drafting Horvat with the ninth pick and getting a steal with Shinkaruk at 24th gives the Canucks a dynamic they have not had since the Sedins made their debut way back in 2000; rookies who can come in and play right away. The team is old by NHL standards, and need to have some fresh blood injected into the lineup. Vancouver has roughly $8 million in cap space, and have huge holes in their bottom six. They need to have Brendan Gaunce, Nicklas Jensen or one of the two recent draftees step up this season so they can use some of their cap room on proven veterans.
Chicago won the Cup with two young players in Brendan Saad and Andrew Shaw. They played regular minutes in the playoffs, which was something that clearly did not hurt their team. The Canucks have tried to fill in the third and fourth lines with the likes of Victor Oreskovich, Byron Bitz and Steve Pinizzotto, which doesn’t scream intimidation to their opponents. John Tortorella was willing to play and develop young players in New York with Ryan Mcdonagh, Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto, which is the polar opposite of AV during his time here. Give the rookies a chance to provide the team with a spark they desperately need.
Which free agents should the Canucks target?
Given the fact they do not have much cap space, the Canucks will not be able to land a big fish in this year’s free agent class. Players like Darren Clarkson will get paid way more than the Canucks can afford, and they are generally set with their top six forwards.
During their dominant regular season run in 2010-11, the Canucks had one of the best third line centers in the game in Manny Malhotra, who finished fifth in voting for the Selke Trophy (given to the best defensive forward in the game). With a player capable of killing penalties and winning faceoffs, the team thrived because it allowed Ryan Kesler to focus on producing goals. A player that is affordable and will fill the third/fourth spot nicely is Boyd Gordon. He plays a hard-nosed game and was a top 10 faceoff man in the NHL at 57.3 per cent. If they strikeout on Gordon, center David Steckel is also worth a look. There is a rumour that the Canucks are also chasing hard after former Flames captain Jarome Iginla. You can make your own judgement on how that could workout.
With Andrew Albers expected not to re-sign and Ballard now gone, the Canucks will need a couple of depth players on defense. A couple of options that can provide them with some size and toughness (something the Canucks severely lack on the back end) would be Theo Peckham, or Ryan O’Byrne.
Will someone hit the reset button already
Remember during the presser when AV was let go, Mike Gillis continued to say the organization needs to hit the reset button this off-season? It seems like he doesn’t know where the button is. Take a look at the Canucks who, if here when the season starts, will 100 per cent be on the team.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Burrows|
Doesn’t exactly look fresh. The Canucks have reportedly listened to offers on Alex Edler, but have not found the right price. Gillis needs to do something if he really meant that he wants to reset the team. The core guys are all quality players, but they have all gotten too comfortable here. Changing a face or two in the locker room will benefit the Canucks. The amount of times they looked lifeless during the regular was very concerning, and it carried over to the playoffs.
Yes, trading Schneider was a shock, but it does not scream a changing of the guard. Luongo will be back between the pipes and the team will essentially have the same look since the 2009 season. They should not completely blow up the team, but bringing in new veterans will help the team moving forward.
You can connect with Jas on Twitter @jaskang21