If there is anything to be learned from the John Tortorella hiring it is that the Canucks management is acknowledging there is still a window to win the Stanley Cup with the current group of players. As a result, many believe the next nine days will be amongst the most crucial in franchise history. There are several decisions to be made and here are amongst the important.
Gary Mason stated in an interview on Team 1040 in May that the Aquilini family may not be inclined to utilizing buyouts this summer as they do not like dead money. However for the Canucks to move forward and improve they need to create cap space as they have under 1 million in cap space for next year. An easy way to achieve this would be by using buyouts on players such as Keith Ballard David Booth or even Roberto Luongo. A buyout could also result in a direct asset for the Canucks. Management could take on another team bad contract, buyout the player and get an asset for inheriting another teams’ trouble.
If a Luongo deal is going to happen one would imagine it would occur by the draft. There is growing speculation amongst the media that the Canucks may have to buyout Roberto Luongo. Either way, majority of fans and insiders alike don’t envision Luongo on the Canucks next year. However, it will be interesting to see what method the Canucks use to offload Luongo.
Arguably the most significant asset which the Canucks could use to address offensive needs is Alex Edler. The inconsistent defencemen holds a lot of value due to his potential upside and the fact his contract is dirt cheap for a defenseman at 5 million a year. However, Edler has a no trade clause which kicks in on July 1. Consequently, the Canucks brass has 4 full days to decide whether they want to trade the Swedish defensemen.
If the Canucks don’t utilize the buyout option and decide not to trade Edler, they will need to create more cap space so they can improve the team. In theory, an asset such as Alex Burrows should be in play. The forward from Quebec is most successful with the Sedin twins which may be a problem as someone such as Zack Kassian could fill the role of fraternal twin at a significantly reduced cap hit. Another player who could be dealt in theory is Kevin Bieksa who stated during the off season that the team did not need an in your face type of coach. Bieksa is also very inconsistent and could be quietly replaced by young blueliner Chris Tanev.
The Vancouver Canucks have a history of drafting poorly. The inefficient drafting shows right now as the teams’ prospect cupboard lacks depth. For Vancouver to be successful in future years they will need to improve their drafting and clearly there is no better time to start than Sunday.
The Canucks have 7 free agents (includes UFA’S and RFA’s) off their current roster. In my opinion, it is safe to assume that Derek Roy, Manny Malhotra and Mason Raymond are as good as gone. That leaves key decisions to be made in regards to Maxim Lapierre, Steven Pinizzotto, Andrew Alberts, Chris Tanev and Cam Barker. The two most interesting out of the bunch are Tanev and Lapierre. There have always been rumors that Tanev may want more than the Canucks are willing to offer. As a result the Canucks may find themselves in a potential contract dispute. Lapierre on the other hand is an excellent fourth line center. However, he represents the Canucks past reputation as someone who is known for embellishing. It will be interesting to see if the Canucks re-sign Maxim or try to move forward without him.
Assuming the Canucks are able to create some cap space there are a few excellent unrestricted free agents available. Names such as David Clarkson, Jarome Iginla, Nathan Horton, Ryane Clowe and Danny Cleary would fit the Canucks plan to get bigger. However, a key issue this off season is the fact that there are not as many quality free agents available as most years. As a result, teams will be forced to pay a premium for players’ services. Inevitably the amount of cap space the Canucks are able to create through buyouts and trades will dictate how active they are in free agency.
Connect with Arpan Parhar on Twitter @rum0r1 where he rants about all things Canucks.