Martin Gelinas was a free pickup for Pat Quinn. Mike Gillis probably won’t find a similar gem, but one can dream.
Getting a forward. That’s all anyone in Vancouver has talked about in the last month. Get another forward.
Sometimes the mob gets overly agitated for no good reason. In this case, however, they are dead on. The Canucks need a forward, preferably a centre. With Ryan Kesler likely never to be quite the same – how could he be, having undergone two serious surgeries on joints in the last two years – and David Booth apparently done for the season, the Canucks’ forward lines are out of whack.
After the jump, let’s have a look at five names out there that might be useful pickups for the Canucks.
There are two players who set standards for the Canucks in the mid-season pickups narratives: Martin Rucinsky and Martin Gelinas. Rucinsky, famously, was picked up at the deadline in 2004 as a desperate replacement for Todd Bertuzzi, in the aftermath of the Steve Moore debacle. He was not at all what the Canucks needed – he had skill but not much interest in going to the net. Gelinas, on the other hand, was brought in by Pat Quinn as a reclamation project. Gelinas was traded for Wayne Gretzky but never found a fit in Edmonton. He’d moved on to Quebec, who cast him aside on waivers. Quinn brought Gelinas to the west coast, where the Quebecer quickly became a fan favourite and emerged as one of the Canucks’ most useful two-way forwards in the mid-90s. So we’ll evaluate possible top-six forward acquistions according to that scale: The Martin Rucinsky to Martin Gelinas meter. It’s all hyper scientific and objective, trust me.
Steve Sullivan – (Cap hit: $2.6 million) PHOENIX COYOTES
A long, long track record of success. The 38 year old now has 1001 games under his belt and has racked up 742 points in the process. For much of his career, he was a point-per-game player, but in the last four seasons, has settled in as a steady 50-point player, the sort of results you look for from a second line forward.
He’s old. He’s also mostly a third liner for the Coyotes. He’d probably fit into the Canucks rotation as such, but the Canucks need a checking centre more than another good two-way winger.
Steve Sullivan still has some gas left in the tank. But he’s not what the Canucks need.
Ryane Clowe – (Cap hit: $3.625 million) SAN JOSE SHARKS
Big, good skater, tough, scores goals. Everything you want, right? Don’t get confused by his struggles this season – he’s still shooting as much as ever (a touch over two per game) – so he’s a nice buy low option. Though I doubt Doug Wilson is that silly. Also, he’s on an expiring contract and has a previous relationship with headcoach Alain Vigneault. So there’s little risk here.
He’s turning 31. How long can he keep up with his rambunctious style, not get hurt AND remain effective? Again, he’s a winger; his style would be a good fit, but he doesn’t take faceoffs so he doesn’t fill the team’s primary need.
He’d change the dynamic of Vancouver’s forward group in a good way. Isn’t a centre though.
Mike Ribiero – (CAP HIT: $5 MILLION) WASHINGTON CAPITALS
A top-notch playmaker; he’s been maligned for years, but he’s always brought the goods. The Canucks desperately need scoring depth and Ribiero’s skill set would be a great help. He does an acceptable job in the defensive end – not incredible, but he doesn’t get destroyed either.
He’s got a big cap hit, and what do you do when Ryan Kesler comes back? He’s not exactly a prototypical Alain Vigneault third-line centre, though he does bring more offense to the table than anyone in Vancouver’s current forward group.
A pure rental who can score. He’d be helpful, but isn’t quite an ideal fit.
Steve Ott – (Cap hit: $2.95 million, signed through 2013-14) BUFFALO SABRES
Truculence, a good defensive reputation; Ott’s got that in spades. He plays jerkpuck as if it were second nature to him. His cap hit is decent and to top it off he might fit in as the Manny Malhotra replacement the Canucks have been looking for. He’s outstanding on faceoffs and his defensive game is polished. He could pitch in on the wing in the top-six too.
Like Malhotra, he’s not known for his offensive prowess. He’s always a risk to go overboard – would he be able to channel his energy in the way that Max Lapierre did when he first arrived in 2011?
You could do a lot worse than Ott as a top-nine winger and faceoff specialist.
Derek Roy – (Cap hit: $4 million) DALLAS STARS
Knows what to do in his own end and drives play down ice. He’s been a solid second-line centre for much of the past decade. Intriguingly enough, he was traded for Steve Ott last summer, in a move that was seen by both teams as adding a piece they needed. The move didn’t put either team over the top but both players would suit the Canucks.
Major shoulder surgery last summer – and arm surgery the year before – may have seriously altered his abilities. He’s small too; despite everything, bigger generally is better. Taking up more space on the ice is an important quality. The Canucks already have one undersized centre, do they really want two?
Probably the best Kesler insurance on the market at the deadline.