Do the Canucks have enough room to squeeze in Juice?
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
As the start of Free Agency approaches, the Canucks management has a few, serious decisions to make on some of their pending free agents.
Do the Canucks try to re-sign everyone, given that their year went almost perfectly according to plan? Do they try some new elements? Do they give up on some organizational projects?
We’ll find out starting July 1st, but until then, here’s my take on what I think the Canucks should do with their pending free agents.
Let’s first remember that the cap is going up by $5 million and that the Canucks are also intent on somehow obtaining a top 6 winger, which won’t come cheap. so while the Canucks don’t have too much in the way of concerns related to the cap, they do have three big name defensemen who could all potentially walk away come July 1st.
Maxim Lapierre (2010 – $900K). Lapierre is the fourth line center they so desperately craved through most of the season and finally acquired at the trade deadline. If the Canucks can re-sign for $1.25m or less, you keep him.
Jannik Hansen (2010 – $825K). He played great last season, and could actually be a good fit with Kesler on the second line. Yes, you re-sign him for $1.5m or less. Remember that’s still almost doubling his salary.
Victor Oreskovich (2010 – $525K). He was a physical presence who brought energy to almost every one of his shifts. Plus he’s a good skater. And you keep him over Glass as a more permanent fixture on the fourth line. Yes, re-sign him at $625K.
Mario Bliznak – Signed to play in the Czech league next season.
Sergei Shirokov, Macgregor Sharp. Both players are going to have a real tough time cracking the Canucks roster next season. You sign them to two-way contracts and use them as possible additions to future trades.
Chris Higgins (2010 – $1.6m). I liked what he brought to the third line and he had the ability when needed to traverse the lineup. But he didn’t do enough for me to warrant a big pay raise. Yes you try to keep him. $1.65m per year to re-sign, or you let him walk.
Raffi Torres (2010 – $1m). I liked his physical play, and I liked the way he turned around his dirty tendencies as the playoffs went on. It proves he learned. Yes, you try to sign at $1.25m per year.
Tanner Glass (2010 – $625). I don’t see the point in keeping Glass. He brings nothing of real value to the Canucks lineup, and has done nothing at all in the playoffs. Let him go.
Jeff Tambellini (2010 – $500K). He showed flashes of brilliance, but because of lineup changes, he wasn’t able to see much ice time. Besides… he was very inconsistent. Very streaky. Canucks need consistency and dependability. And they have a few players in their system who deserve the chance to play. Let him go.
Jonas Andersson, Guillaume Desbiens, Rick Rypien, Alex Bolduc, Andrew Peters… I hate to show little empathy here, but I don’t think any of these players will see the light of day in the NHL again, including Rypien. Desbiens and Bolduc has their chances and did nothing with them. Maybe you keep Bolduc because he can skate, but let the rest walk.
Lee Sweatt (2010, $650K). He had limited time with the Canucks, until he was pretty seriously hurt. I liked his game, however brief it was. And the Canucks proved they need plenty of depth defensively. Sign him to a two-way deal at the same numbers he was on before – $650K.
Kevin Bieksa (2010 – $3.75m). Yes, you re-sign him. Are you an idiot? He’s already said he’ll take a discount to stay in Vancouver, he was the Canucks best defenseman through all four playoff rounds, and found some wonderful chemistry with Dan Hamhuis. He’ll likely sign a long-term deal. 6-7 years @ $4.85m per year. He’ll do it because he wants the team to win.
Sami Salo (2010 – $3.5m). Salo had a remarkable comeback following a potential career-ending Achilles injury. But he’s old, and has a lengthy history of injuries. Plus he’s already said that he’s willing to take less to stay. Can the Canucks sign him for $2m or less? If so, you keep him and he becomes affordable insurance.
Christian Ehrhoff (2010 – $3.1m). He’s due a raise, after putting up some big numbers for the Canucks. He has the shortest history with the Canucks, and is therefore the least likely to want to take a discount to stay. He could get $5.5m on the open market, and I suspect that he’ll find it too hard to pass up. Couple that with the fact that the Canucks could use that money to sign a top tier, top 6 forward and I’m going to say… you let him walk.
Andrew Alberts (2010 – $1.05). He had plenty of hits… but was statistically the worst Canucks defenseman in a LOT of categories. At $1.05m, you can easily replace Alberts’ physicality with a more dependable defenseman, or you give that opportunity to one of the many defensive prospects you have. Let him walk.
Nolan Baumgartner (2010 – $550K). He’s a career AHL’er. He’s decent insurance in case of injury. Sign him to a two-way deal under his current numbers.
Nathan Paetsch (2010 – $525K). Who? No seriously… who? Yeah you let him walk.