Friday, July 29, 2005

The Fuel, The Fire

Dave Nonis was just on MOJO Canucks lunch and "clarified" some of the rumors floating around, most prominently one that involves Ohlund going to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for the no. 2 overall pick. The Canucks are then expected to use the pick to select Vancouver-native Gilbert Brule.

Ohlund for Brule? Are you kidding me? A top-2 defenseman for a relatively-small and unproven junior player. A World Cup of Hockey player for someone who didn't even crack Team Canada's lineup for the World Junior Championships?

Needless to say, Nonis quickly dismissed those rumors, added that Ohlund (and Jovanovski) will be part of the Canucks' opening night lineup, then pointed out (rightly so, IMHO) that most of these rumors usually originate from fans message boards and hockey bloggers.

Let's assume that Nonis is taking the politically-correct road and there is, in fact, truth to some of these rumors. What do you think of them?

Anaheim's No. 2 Overall Draft Pick

Should the Canucks move either Ohlund or Jovanovski in a package for the Ducks' draft pick, they better make sure that they can sign at least a similar caliber defenseman through free agency. Both Ohlund and Jovanovski are legitimate top 2 defensemen who can play upwards of 28 minutes per game. Unless the Canucks are willing to promote Sopel, Salo, Malik or Allen to more minutes, the departure of Ohlund or Jovanovski may leave a significant gap in their defense core.

A more minor rumor circulating is that neither Ohlund or Jovanovski is involved, but Fedor Fedorov, the no. 10 pick and other roster player(s). This may make more sense. As much as Brian Burke dislikes the Fedorovs, Sergei recently exercised his player option for the remaining three years of his contract (his original contract was $40 million over 5 years). At a cost of $18 million over the next 3 years, Burke will unlikely be able to trade him, nor will the new Ducks owners be willing to buy him out. Rather, Burke may well be forced to extend an olive branch to Sergei and bring little brother Fedor into the Ducks system.

Scott Niedermayer

Scott Niedermayer won the Norris Trophy last season as the league's best defenseman. He has also publicly-expressed his desire to play closer to his BC roots. However, plenty of teams are interested in Niedermayer (ie. Flames, Flyers, Leafs, Penguins) and he would likely command close to the maximum salary of $7.8 million. Because of the salary cap, if the Canucks sign him, then it's safe to assume that one or more of its core players - take your pick of Naslund, Bertuzzi, Jovanovski, Ohlund - will not return.

Peter Forsberg

Though I would personally prefer that the Canucks sign Niedermayer, there is probably a better chance that they sign Peter Forsberg. Naslund will re-sign with the Canucks. Call it denial, optimisim, whatever... but I can't see him signing anywhere else. When he does, he will bring Forsberg with him. Unlike Niedermayer, whose agent is convinced that his client will command the max, Forsberg is more likely to take a pay cut to play with Naslund. Likewise, Naslund will probably also be willing to sign for less than market value if the Canucks are willing to sign Forsberg as well.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 12:41 PM


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