July 05 2013 08:53AM
A Mad TV Classic
Headed into the opening of free-agency, the Canucks have limited space to maneuver under the salary cap's upper limit. There's still a possibility of the team trading one of their surplus defenceman for help at forward (and indeed Jason Botchford reported yesterday that the team is still hosting an Alex Edler listening party), but I might suggest that the club's current unbalanced structual position under the salary cap is a one season inconvenience, and is an insufficiently large issue to warrant trading a 28 year old, talented defenceman for any less than a loonie on the dollar...
The names being bandied about for the Canucks to chase today are, well, not particularly Doan-er inducing. Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon, Jonathon Blum and maybe Matt Cullen on the high-end. So Canucks fans would be wise to read the writing on the wall and head into the opening of the free-agent market with decidedly Lowered Expectations, read on past the jump.
Chris Tanev's Ongoing Negotiations
If the Canucks have arbitration rights on Chris Tanev, these negotiations would essentially be a slam dunk and Tanev's next contract would end up closer to Marco Scandella's than to Nick Leddy's. But the Canucks don't ahve arbitration rights, and Chris Tanev's recently hired agent is making ominous noises about potentially signing an offer sheet...
The market for defenceman this summer is completely barren, and while offer sheets were rare during the last CBA (and were almost never effective), it's a brave new world out there this summer.
In assessing the risk to the Canucks regarding Chris Tanev's negotiations, I essentially concluded that if he wasn't locked up by the draft, then the Canucks may want to consider moving him in a trade lest they be exposed to an offer sheet. Obviously that didn't happen, and we'll see if any of Mike Gillis's colleagues lob a salary cap bomb at the Canucks as a result over the coming week or two. The Canucks can afford Tanev at two million per (or thereabouts), but at three million plus?
Also, you just know Dave Nonis is considering this...
Value Secondary Scoring
It's hard to imagine that the Canucks could find the cap-space to add a quality power-forward type scoring winger, or ahem, a mythical beast, on the market over the next couple of weeks. But there are a couple of players who have scored at a top-six rate (i.e. are among the top-180 forwards in the NHL in scoring efficiency over the past six seasons) and will probably be affordable on the market. One of those players is Benoit Pouliot, another is Peter Mueller, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Dan Cleary (weirdly), and Matt Cooke, and Nik Antropov (though he's getting older).
The Canucks need to score more and that's a list of forwards who, historically, have been helpful in that regard...
Keith Ballard has signed in Minnesota after being bought out, and we wish him all the best. During the postseason Keith Ballard appeared on 1500 ESPN Radio in Minneapolis (/Twin Cities) regularly to breakdown hockey, and as you may or may not know, Minnesota Wild country isn't particularly kind to the Canucks.
Keith Ballard was a regular healthy scratch during his Canucks tenure, he never really fit in in Vancouver and rarely was able to hold down the sixth spot on Vancouver's depth chart. He was repeatedly asked leading questions that would've given him an opportunity to bash the Sedins as soft, and the Canucks as dysfunctional. In particular, in response to a question about the toughness of the twins Ballard responded with:
"You can hit them and hit them and hit them and they just keep coming, they make smart plays, they're not afraid to handle the puck in traffic. And the way they think the game is amazing."
Best of luck to Keith Ballard. He's probably not a safe bet to be a regular top-four contributor at this point, but he may excel in a new system and environment. For what it's worth, we'll be rooting for him as a person (if not as a member of the Minnesota Mild).
Rumours have it that Maxim Lapierre may follow Alain Vigneault and Scott Arniel to Vancouver-West aka New York:
Lapierre's performance in Manny Malhotra's absence during the Canucks' 2011 run to the Stanley Cup Finals was critical in Vancouver's success. Ultimately Lapierre played over his head that postseason, and couldn't sustain that type of competent two-way performance in a top-nine role over the subsequent couple of seasons. Still, Lapierre was a relatively solid fourth line centre and probably the best player to fill that role since Artem Chubarov...
Finally, the Canucks clearly won't be returning Mason Raymond. It's assumed that the speedy winger - who has never really been the same by the underlying numbers since his devastating back injury - will sign with either Calgary or Toronto (though we should note that he apparently has had zero contact with the Flames so far).
In a fair and just sporting world, Mason Raymond would be remembered for his courage in returning from an extremely frightening injury and resuming his playing career. Instead fans in Vancouver will just remember him as a guy who wouldn't go to the net and couldn't score in the postseason. Such is life, but we wish him the best nonetheless.