Salo Out… NOW What?

CHICAGO - MAY 09: A trainer attends to Sami Salo #6 of the Vancouver Canucks at the end of the first period after Salo suffered an injury against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on May 9, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Canucks defeated the Blackhawks 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Oh, Sami. Why are you so broken?

We learned late this week that oft-injured defenseman and longtime Canuck Sami Salo ruptured his Achilles tendon in his native Finland.

Not that we should be surprised given Salo’s history, but does this change the Canucks’ plans to help with their salary cap concerns?

A lot of fans and pundits are assuming that, because Salo is out for 3-6 months, this changes their plans of having to move a defenseman to clear cap space.

I disagree. I think the gives the Canucks more time and flexibility to continue to try to move a defenseman. Again, the writing’s on the wall for Kevin Bieksa, who appears to be the most obvious trade bait. He’s young, he’s shown flashes of greatness and grit and a reasonable cap number.
But will the Canucks keep him, with Salo out long-term or will they try to move him.

With Salo gone, and some of his salary off the books, it becomes less critical to move Bieksa for just a prospect and a pick. Now the Canucks have the option of taking some salary back in return.
They can start to shop around and take their time a little.

Further to that, the decision on Mason Raymond will have a big impact on their decision and their time line. If the ruling for Raymond comes in under $3m, the Canucks won’t be overly desperate to move Bieksa. If the ruling is $3.5 or more and the Canucks decide to keep Raymond, even with their cap savings on Salo being out long-term, Vancouver will still be facing some serious cap problems and will have to move someone (again, very likely that it’s Bieksa).

It seems to me that the Canucks will move Bieksa, no matter what happens. But the blessing here is the Canucks may just have a few more options open to them now.

The first domino that needs to fall for the Canucks is the ruling on Mason Raymond, because that will dictate how much money the Canucks have left. Raymond’s hearing is tomorrow, so expect this to be a big week for the Canucks.