Club ready to shop with modest cap space
It isn't Boxing Day or Black Friday, but there's no question Vancouver fans are hoping Canucks general manager Mike Gillis and his righthand man Laurence Gilman have a productive shopping experience very soon.
The NHL's waiver period began Thursday, featuring several teams over the salary cap allowed in the summer.
Those teams must pare down to begin the season under the cap. The Canucks have saved a little bit of salary cap space from their summer shopping, despite the artificially low $64.3-million ceiling this year.
Now they'd like nothing more than for a very good player to come available from a team looking to shed salary.
They don't have a lot of room to move, given they have just over $2.2 million clearly available without any gerrymandering, but there is also the possibility of assembling a trade as well as claiming someone on waivers. That is, they could trade a player making less money for a player making more, thereby filling a hole in the bargain.
Without wishing to be too presumptuous here, it's pretty clear they would be looking for a thirdline centre still. One look at Brad Richardson tells you what you need to know with respect to his ability to fill that spot long-term, much less fill in on the second line if anything should happen to either Ryan Kesler or Henrik Sedin, heaven forbid.
It's just not going to happen at a high enough level to allow this team to get any kind of significant contribution offensively from a third line. So there's no question they need a guy in that role.
They have good young players coming eventually. The question is whether they are ready now, and the answer appears to be no, particularly with Brendan Gaunce looking a little more comfortable on the wing than in the middle.
Given his lack of first-step mobility, it's unlikely he'd be ready to go on the road at his age and experience level and handle the centre's defensive responsibilities against the other team's top two guys.
And he or one of the other young guys may be needed on the wing with David Booth's ongoing cashing of cheques for no services rendered.
"This is a different year for us comparatively speaking, because we have cap space," Gilman told Matt Sekeres on Team 1040.
"If you look around the league right now, there are teams that are challenged with respect to the fact the cap has dropped. Some teams have too many one-way contracts and are going to have to move players. There are teams who have salary-cap issues that are going to have to move players and there are teams that are not necessarily used to being salary cap teams, but because the cap dropped, they have gravitated toward the top and they have internal cap issues. "So Mike and I have had a very long discussion about potential teams that are out there and who may be looking to make moves.
"At the board of governors meeting Monday I believe the trade discussion is going to begin to heat up." While this leaves the Canucks as spectators just waiting and hoping, it's also a strategy that Gillis has used successfully in the past, albeit under slightly different circumstances.
Having a lot of cap space allowed them to get Christian Ehrhoff from San Jose for nothing but a couple of two-way contracts that could easily be parked in the minors in 2009, a move which allowed the Sharks to go ahead and get under the cap in light of the Dany Heatley deal they had just made at the time.
The Canucks got a great defenceman that pushed them on their way to that 2011 Stanley Cup final run for nothing more than assuming his contract.
Anything of that magnitude is unlikely this year because the dollar figures in question would have to be smaller in the case of a waiver wire acquisition.
Only a trade with a Vancouver roster player or players going back the other way could produce a higher-profile incoming individual of Ehrhoff calibre, but there's no question Gillis and Gilman will be trying to make something happen this week.
The hiring of John Tortorella has brought about a multitude of questions in Vancouver about the future. One of the main questions, of course, is, "How long until he loses his mind and screams at somebody?" But another popular question is, "Who will be the first player to enter Tortorella's doghouse?" The Legion of Blog lives but to serve, and as such, has chosen the top-five candidates who could end up becoming the first card-carrying member of Tort's doghouse. Only at legionofblog.com!
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