Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Revolving Door

While I was away spending an extra long weekend in Vernon, BC, Dave Nonis has been busy retooling and reshaping the Vancouver Canucks. To recap:

Daniel and Henrik Sedin both sign 3-year/$10.725 million contracts

After career seasons, Dave Nonis somehow managed to get 2/3rds of last season's top line to forego two years of unrestricted free agency at only $3.575 million per season. When you consider that other first-liners Jason Arnott and Marc Savard signed for much more ($4.5million/season and $5 million/season respectively), this is a pretty good deal.

It's not a stretch to think that the Sedins would have commanded $4-4.5 million in the open market. If you think about it, the Canucks are essentially paying them $1.725-2.725 million each for this coming season. Not bad for a couple of 70-point (and improving) players.

Ed Jovanovski signs a 5-year/$32.5 million contract with the Phoenix Coyotes

Not much the Canucks can do about Jovanovski leaving. With Luongo's $6.75 million cap hit this season, there simply wasn't enough cap space to fit another big contract.

Personally, Jovo's loss will probably prove to be the most significant this coming season. In the new NHL where teams need some good speed and a good first pass to get out of their zone, the Canucks have now lost their best breakout guy. (They also lost Nolan Baumgartner, arguably their second-best breakout guy.)

By the way, anyone find it funny that in the clutch-and-grab era, the Canucks loaded up on speed and finesse players, but in the wide-open, new NHL, have committed to a more defensive style?

Nolan Baumgartner signs a 2-year/$2.4 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers

With the Canucks' defense decimated by injuries, Baumgartner filled in quite admirably and put together the best season of his career. He posted career-highs in games played and all statistical categories, and his +11 also tied him for the team-lead. All for the league-minimum $450,000. I would've liked to see him back in a Canucks uniform, but his $1.2 million salary can pay for the Canucks' third pairing.

Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province) has a nice piece on Baumer here.

PS. If Tracy and I had known that Baumer was going to leave this off-season, we probably would have named our dog Willie.

Willie Mitchell signs a 4-year/$14 million contract

I like this signing. I've been a Willie Mitchell fan since he took on Bertuzzi in 2003, and plus, I always like it when a BC boy comes home.
In a conference call with the Vancouver media Sunday afternoon, Mitchell spoke at length about how excited he is to return home to play in British Columbia. He was a huge Canuck fan as a kid and Mitchell said some of his best Christmas memories are of heading to Vancouver to catch a couple of Canuck games over the holiday break.

"We jumped in the ruts there, as all of us do on the north end of Vancouver Island, and head down to Nanaimo and took the ferry across. It was kind of a tradition for me and my family anyways. My dad is a mechanic back on the north end of the Island so at Christmas time it was commonplace for a kid who dreamed about playing in the NHL to go down and watch the Canucks play. We'd always come down at Christmas and watch a couple of games at the Pacific Coliseum."

The lure of returning home to play in Vancouver proved too great to resist for Mitchell, who was traded at the deadline last season to Dallas. The Stars, as well as a number of other teams, tried to sign Mitchell.

"Playing in a Canadian city where hockey is No. 1 is something that really appeals to me," Mitchell said. " It's fun to go to the rink. I think in a Canadian city you are expected to win and I kind of like that. I like that pressure. As a player I like the things the Vancouver staff has kind of been doing and feel that I can help complement their team in a defensive role. Obviously they signed Robert Luongo, a star goaltender, and as a defenceman hopefully I can work well with him and add a little different element to the Canucks that maybe they haven't had, maybe being a little tighter defensively."
Knowing that the Canucks want to focus more on the defensive side of things - no worries, Canucks fans, apparently the team is not going to resort to playing the trap - I'm as comfortable with Luongo, Mitchell and Krajicek in front of the net as I would have been with Auld, Jovo and Allen.

Jarkko Ruutu signs a 2-year/$2.3 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins

With Ruutu's departure, the Canucks have now lost all three pieces of the original Linden deal in 1998, though I suppose you can kind of argue that in a way, Linden brought the Canucks Daniel Sedin and Roberto Luongo.

I imagine the Penguins have a bigger role in mind for Jarkko. I love what he brought to the team, but $1.15 million/season for a third or fourth-liner whose career-high is 17 points? In a cap world?

Here's what Penguins GM Ray Shero had to say:
"(Ruutu) plays hard, he plays to win and in terms of changing the dynamics of the team, he's a step in the right direction," Shero said. "He's always played a role on good teams, and he knows what it takes to be a good teammate. He's not a fun guy to play against, but having said that, he understands the game, he has good hockey sense and he can play with good players."
He's right, but still... $1.15 million per season?

Dan Cloutier is traded to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2007 2nd round draft pick and a conditional draft pick in 2009

Quite frankly, after the horrible season that Cloutier had and the number of other goaltenders on the trade block, there probably wasn't much of a market for his services. Thank goodness the Kings like ex-Canucks goalies.

Dean Lombardi put his positive spin on the trade:
"I think it's important to have an established goaltender," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. "I think some of his best hockey's ahead of him. This kid's a competitor."
How much of a competitor? Check out VCOE for an oldie-but-goodie video clip.

Anson Carter still waiting for a contract

Apparently, Carter is looking for a three-year/$9 million contract and the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in him.

If he gets his money, good for him. I doubt, however, that it would be from Vancouver.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:22 PM


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