Should the Canucks Sign Matt Cullen?

Nice ‘stache – courtesy of WikiCommons

The Canucks need a third or fourth line center. And getting a guy with some offensive ability in case of another Ryan Kesler injury makes a lot of sense. Could veteran center Matt Cullen be that guy?

Cullen won 54.7% of his faceoffs with the Wild last year, and 53.2% of them the year before.  He turns 37 this fall, but has a few years left in his legs. He is a great skater and keeps himself in phenomenal shape. Decent size at 6-1 and 200 pounds, too.

He’d be a great mentor for Kellan Lain, Brendan Gaunce, and Bo Horvat. I think there would be some interest from Vancouver on a two year deal. His production over the past few years has been pretty solid considering his limited role, too.

In 42 games last year, he had seven goals and 27 points, and he scored 26 combined goals in the two previous seasons (all with Minnesota). Cullen also has 11 goals and 39 points in 68 postseason games. He can put the puck in the net, and he knows his way around the offensive zone, too.

His fancy stats, relative to Minnesota’s other centers in 2013:

NAME Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative PDO Pens Taken/60 Pens Drawn/60 Off Zone Start %
MIKKOKOIVU 1.51 19.9 975 0.9 0.6 63.2
KYLEBRODZIAK 0.91 -2.3 946 0.4 0.5 37.1
PIERRE-MARCBOUCHARD 0.31 1.4 1002 0.4 0.5 51.8
MATTCULLEN -0.02 -3.6 1061 0.4 0.8 42.4

Jason Botchford tweeted that John Tortorella wants to reunite Kesler and Burrows on the second line. I think this would be a great move, and it would also (hopefully) let David Booth to play left wing on a full time basis. He’s way more comfortable there.

Wild beat writer Michael Russo speculates that Cullen may be in for a nice pay day. I’m not sure the Canucks would be willing (or able) to go above $2 million for him:

If Cullen departs and the Wild doesn’t make any free-agent or trade pickups at center, Coyle or Granlund will be vying for the spot to replace Cullen.

That will be quite the chore for a second-year forward, albeit two talented ones. Cullen fills several roles on the Wild, but he could potentially be out of the Wild’s price range.

He is 36, and since this could potentially be his final contract, he is looking for at least a three-year deal and could get big money, even at more than the $3.5 million per year he earned on his last contract.

Think of it this way: At some point the Wild wants to pass that baton to one of its young kids, so while losing Cullen could potentially put the Wild in a tough position next year, if the Wild re-signs him to a three-year deal, that could potentially block one of its kids in future years.

Cullen is coming off a strong season, still has the legs of a 20-something and has won a Cup in Carolina. He has scored 202 goals and 562 points in 1,073 games in 15 seasons with Anaheim, Florida, Carolina, the Rangers, Ottawa and Minnesota.

Boyd Gordon would be a nice fit, but according to Bob McKenzie the Oilers are hard after him. And Cullen has more offensive ability and could fill in on line two in a pinch. If he comes in at or around the $2 million mark, he looks like a great fit for this team.

What say you, Canucks fans?

    • The fact that the Canucks #2 centre is oft-injured isn’t exactly a selling point for a free agent like Cullen. In my opinion.

      He certainly fills a need for Vancouver. But it makes little sense for his career.

      And lo and behold Lebrun suggesting he may be closing in with Nashville.

  • I’d say that Boyd Gordon is younger, better at face-offs and an amazing defensive specialist under Tippet’s regime with the “Arizona” Coyotes. The big questions is how much (and how long)does it take to beat Edmonton to the party. Boyd Gordon is the better Manny replacement unless the Canucks have someone they’re developing for this specific role ready to step in as Cullen’s contract ends. It’s useful to remember that the cap will go up somewhat when the Canadian TV contracts go up to big in a year.

  • Our problem is secondary scoring, so I guess we just have to decide whether the best way to improve that is with a Malhotra-esque ‘enabler’, or a more offensive guy. We’re probably not going to outbid any team for anyone, so we need someone to want to come.