JPat: Canucks getting versatile Blueger back at attractive price point makes sense on many levels

Photo credit:Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
15 days ago
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Teddy Blueger may not be the flashiest player on the Vancouver Canucks. But without question, the contributions he makes to the hockey club don’t go unnoticed by teammates and the coaching staff. And to get the versatile veteran, who was a pending unrestricted free agent, locked up on a two-year extension at a team-friendly $1.8M per season is a solid start to what is sure to be a busy week for Canucks management.
Blueger agreed to terms with the Canucks on Wednesday afternoon just days before he would have been able to shop his services on the open market. And had the 29-year-old chosen that path the Canucks would have been in a difficult spot to find his replacement at an affordable rate.
It’s a free agent crop that is thin down the middle this year so getting Blueger locked up gives the Canucks security in their bottom six, a depth piece that showed he was capable of playing slightly higher in the line-up, one of the team’s key penalty killing forwards and a reliable face-off man. That’s an attractive package for less than $2M per season over the next two years.
Blueger played in 68 games for the Canucks after starting the season on the injured list with a foot injury that kept him out of the line-up for the first six weeks. He scored six times and matched his career-high with 28 points. He also appeared in all 13 playoff games for the Canucks this spring.
“I wouldn’t say it was super easy (to get the deal done), it took some time,” Blueger told the Vancouver media via Zoom. “Once negotiations really ramped up it was really quick. It was a bit of a waiting game it seemed like at least for me, but once things started happening it fell into place really quick. We’re really happy to be back. We really did truly love it and had such a fun year.”
Looking at the list of pending mid-range UFA centres around the league, the Canucks may have had their eyes on the likes of Kevin Stenlund or Sam Carrick, who just went head-to-head in the Stanley Cup Final. Both are in the same age range as Blueger, but neither came anywhere close to producing as many points as he did this season. And both will likely command significant raises on the open market, while Blueger took a $100K haircut to get two years of security.
Blueger led all Canucks forwards and was fourth on the team in short-handed ice time during the regular season and that bumped up to second behind only Ian Cole in the playoffs. Blueger won 53.1% of his regular season face-offs and nudged that to 54.2% in the post-season.
“For me, I think there was a two or three month stretch where I was probably playing the most consistent and best hockey of my career, especially offensively,” he added. “I obviously didn’t maintain that the whole year so that’s an area that can be improved among some others.”
The affable Latvian carried solid possession numbers over his first season in Vancouver and at one point was part of the best third line in the National Hockey League with Conor Garland and Dakota Joshua.
The Canucks are trying to create an environment where players want to be here. Blueger could have taken the opportunity to explore free agency next week. But by re-upping with the Canucks he has signalled his desire to be a part of what this organization is trying to put together. And at an attractive price point, getting Teddy Blueger back in the fold is a shrewd move by the Canucks front office.

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