Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Negotiation Tactics

There are reports from local radio shows that Mattias Ohlund and the Sedins are electing to go to salary arbitration (the deadline of which to file is tomorrow), and that Artem Chubarov may choose to stay in Russia and sign for a more lucrative offer than the Canucks are willing to pay him.

Optimists (such as yours truly) think that these are simply negotiation tactics. However, if true, it does not bode well for Nonis and the Canucks. Ohlund is a premiere defenseman in the NHL, and with the likes of Adrian Aucoin and Adam Foote getting upwards of $4 million per season, it is arguably possible that Ohlund will merit a similar salary. The Sedins, who have consistently improved their games (and their statistics) over the past few seasons, may command close to $2 million per season. Chubarov is one of the team's top penalty killers and defensive forwards. In fact, his line has often been tasked with playing against the opposing teams' top lines. Chubarov's salary demands haven't been made public, but my best guess is that it's a fair bit more than his $1 million qualifying offer.

So how can the Canucks afford to keep four key players for more than $9 million? Well, they can't and the following is what Nonis and company have to consider:

Ohlund and the Sedins

Unfortunately for Nonis, the team has made significant investments in Mattias Ohlund and the Sedin twins and losing any of them will be a huge setback to the team.

Some argue that Ohlund is the team's top defenseman, even more important than Ed Jovanovski. And with top free agents such as Scott Niedermayer off the market, there is simply no comparable replacements available this year. (And yes, I know Roman Hamrlik is still out there.)

The Sedins have been the Canucks' pet projects for four years now. Though often criticized because they have been handed over 2nd line minutes - some say undeservedly - the fact remains that both have consistently improved their game. Last season, Daniel finished with 18 goals and 54 points and a +18 rating. His point totals rank him 53rd among forwards - higher than the likes of Yzerman, Roenick, Gagne, Kovalev, Bondra, Morrow, Modano, Bonk and Zetterberg (get the picture?). This despite only averaging 13 minutes of ice time per game. Henrik wasn't bad either, garnering 42 points and a +23 rating in 14 minutes of ice time per game. As much as fans would much rather send the Sedins to Anaheim, the Canucks don't have other options for the second line.


I'm a big fan of Chubarov. He normally plays against opposing teams' top lines and normally does a good job of doing so. He is a regular on the penalty kill and takes key faceoffs. That said however, the new capped system limits what the Canucks can afford to pay him. He made just over $800,000 last season, and unless he is willing to sign for a similar amount, the Canucks may have no choice but to part ways with him and hope that guys like Ryan Kesler and Nathan Smith can fill the role just as well.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:30 PM


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