Canucks Ink Torres

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Raffi Torres #14 of the Columbus Blue Jackets stretches prior to his game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on January 19, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Torres heads west to join the Canucks

As reported by Rogers Sportsnet last night, the Vancouver Canucks signed LW Raffi Torres to a one-year, $1m deal. Torres, a noted Canuck killer throughout his career, brings much needed grit and added scoring depth to the bottom six of the offensive roster.

That is assuming he stays healthy and actually plays with some consistency.

Raffi Torres is a 20-goal scorer. That much he has proven, even when hurt. Whenever you can get a 20-goal scorer in your line-up for $1m, you have to consider that a bargain.
How did GM Mike Gillis manage to sign a 20-goal scorer at such an affordable rate, and so far under the radar? Torres ended last season without scoring. AT ALL. At the trade deadline, Torres (who had 19G in 60GP with Columbus) was traded to Buffalo. Once in Buffalo, his goal scoring died up completely. He didn’t score a single goal while with Sabres, through the remaining 14 regular season games and the first four games of the playoffs. In fact, he was benched for Buffalo’s last two playoff games.

So you would have to think that when a 20-goal scorer goes goal-less in 18 games and then gets benched in the playoffs that he’s hit a career low in the NHL. This is precisely the reason why Gillis was able to sign Torres to such a cap-friendly number.

Torres fill a big need for the Canucks by adding grit and general nastiness to the third line. He also adds scoring depth, which will help while Alex Burrows recovers from shoulder surgery, possibly until December. Until Burrows returns, Torres may likely take a spot on the wing on the second line, while Samuelsson moves up to the top line with Sedins. If the Canucks’ brass feels that Cody Hodgson is ready to stick with the big club, he may play on the second line, leaving Torres to remain on the third line.

While I like the signing from a perspective of both depth and cap-friendliness, my concerns about Torres are his consistency and lack of scoring in the playoffs. He is known to have long spurts without scoring and if that hits during the playoffs, the Canucks will again be relying on just their top 6 forwards to score. In his NHL career (stats courtesy of hockey-reference.com), Torres has a goals-per-game-played average of 0.227, which is almost a goal every 4 games. In other words, in a complete season, he’d be a 20-goal scorer. Pretty good. However in the playoffs his goals-per-game-played average is only 0.133, or one goal in every 7.5 games played. In other words, he scores goals at about half the pace in the playoffs as he does in the regular season. That’s unsettling to say the least.

So while this deal is great for depth and the salary cap, it will all be worthless if Torres can’t find his game in the post-season.

BONUS – Here is some fun with Torres as he appeared on The Daily Show.

Raffi Torres on The Daily Show.