Nearly a month ago, Tom Sestito broke the news about his having signed a new two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Twitter. The restless denizens of Canuckistan were mostly unmoved by the news, while we reacted with a brief, subdued shrug.
In describing why the team decided to sign Tom Sestito – a player who was only months removed from being waiver fodder -to a one-way deal worth 1.5 million, Canucks Assistant General Manager Laurence Gilman told the Vancouver Sun that “Players like Tom Sestito are a commodity, they really are."
You can debate the utility of pure enforcers in the modern game, and I tend to think a club is better off employing a twelfth or thirteenth forward who can kill penalties, bring speed and possesses hockey ability. But Laurence Gilman’s assessment of Sestito’s value has proven to be astute. Read past the jump.
Consider that in the very early days of this "offseason," we’ve seen four enforcer-type players signed to one-way contracts spanning multiple seasons. Those players include Washington’s Aaron "the one who got away" Volpatti (2 years, 1.15 million), Vancouver’s Tom Sestito (2 years, 1.5 million), Colorado’s Patrick Bordeleau (3 years, 3 million) and now reportedly Toronto’s Colton Orr (2 years, slightly less than 2 million). So yeah these types of players clearly have value, or at least are widely perceived to have value.
Essentially we know that executives like Dave Nonis, Mike Gillis, George McPhee and Patrick Roy (or whoever is in charge in Colorado) are whilling to commit a small proportion of their cap-space over multiple seasons to guys whose primary job is to punch face. Which makes that group of four far from unique, after all wasn’t that Brandon Bollig and Shawn Thornton featuring into a memorable Stanley Cup Final game on Wednesday night?
Losing Revelstoke’s Aaron Volpatti on waivers for nothing in March and putting in a waiver claim on Tom Sestito to replace him, was definitely an uncharacteristic spot of brutal asset management from this Canucks management team. That mistake was compounded further by the fact that Volpatti, probably a more useful hockey player than Sestito, was signed to a similar but less expensive deal this summer. It’s only a marginal loss really, but the stuff at the margins adds up in a competitive environment like the National Hockey League.
Which is to say that I still don’t particularly like the Sestito extension, and would prefer to see the Canucks eschew the archaic ethos of the hockey enforcer entirely. But at least Gilman had a good feel for the direction the enforcer market was moving in.