Monday, August 29, 2005

What To Do With Jovo

One of the more interesting decisions facing the Vancouver Canucks is what to do with Ed Jovanovksi, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. The team can start negotiating a contract extension in December, but failing that by July 1st, Jovanovski can simply walk away from the team, leaving it without one of its more valuable assets. Or the team can trade him to at least guarantee that they get something for him for next season.

One rumor that seems to persist involves trading Jovanovski to the Panthers for Jay Bouwmeester. Thanks to an intact core of players from their Northwest Division-winning season, the Canucks are IMHO close to winning it all. Having Jovo in the lineup - a veteran defenseman who can skate, score, hit, and play the physical playoff game - makes the team that much better and trading him for someone with only the potential to be the same seems like taking a step backwards. But something Tom Benjamin said in Canucks Corner made me think about this trade. Tom said:

Close? No team is ever close. Either you are good enough or you are not. If you are good enough, then you are only one of 10 teams or so that is good enough. You need puck luck.

Actually Tom is right. Especially in a hard cap system, parity will be more common and favorites less - parity ensures that more teams are "good enough" to win it all, as long as they put themselves in that position. If this is the goal, are the Canucks - without Jovanovski - still good enough?

If Jovanovski stays with the Canucks, their defensive pairings are as follows:

Ohlund - Salo
Allen - Jovanovski
McCarthy - Baumgartner/FA (Bombardir, Baron)
extra: Butenschon
But if Jovanovski is traded for Bouwmeester, their defensive pairings could then become:
Ohlund - Bouwmeester
FA (Witt, White) - Salo
McCarthy - Allen
extra: Baumgartner/Butenschon

(Remember that Bouwmeester makes approximately half of what Jovo makes. The extra cap space allows the Canucks to sign a higher-caliber defenseman.)

Now with the second lineup, are the Canucks still good enough?

With regards to the possibility that the Canucks can lose Jovanovski for nothing, Tom asks:

Are they better off being very good - say one of the top five teams - this year but as a result they drop to average for the next two years?

Or are they better off making the deal and being above average for all three years? A one in five chance this year and two years where they have a 1 in 20 chance? Or three years where your chances are one in ten?

To illustrate his second point, think of having the first set of defensive pairings for one season versus having the second set for three seasons. Should the Canucks put all their eggs in this year's basket or distribute them over the next three?

So what do you think... what should we do with Jovo?

(Postscript: One of the things I've enjoyed immensely during my short time in the blogging biz so far is the chance to get additional insight from other bloggers. Thanks to Tom for his on this particular subject.)
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:11 AM


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