Gallagher: Losing Justin Schultz troubling sign for Canucks franchise

 

 
 
 
 
Justin Schultz, a native of Kelowna and free agent defenceman was heavily recruited by NHL teams including the Canucks. He has announced he's going to the Edmonton Oilers.
 

Justin Schultz, a native of Kelowna and free agent defenceman was heavily recruited by NHL teams including the Canucks. He has announced he's going to the Edmonton Oilers.

Photograph by: Elsa, Getty Images

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As the Canucks move into free agency today without Justin Schultz and looking for help on the blueline as well as a third-line centre, losing out in the bid to get the much hyped defencemen provides an independent commentary on the future of the Vancouver franchise.

You can certainly argue that the people at Newport Sports management are perhaps not the most qualified people in the world to be making these predictions on the future, but you can almost certainly be assured they were trying to advise their client to the best of their ability when they suggested he go to the Edmonton Oilers.

Vancouver was thought to be the front runners in this given there were some veteran defencemen already here who could teach him how to play the game, and the Edmonton history with defenders hasn't been good. Other than Kevin Lowe and Paul Coffey, not many survive the experience and go on to bigger and better things, the traditional style of the team putting a lot of pressure on their defencemen.

Evidently the Newport sports types didn't like the look of Vancouver's future nearly as much as Edmonton and when you think of Ryan Kesler having his fourth surgical procedure and the Sedins pushing past 31, they had to be asking who will he be passing the puck to in three years? And it just might have been that question that killed the Canucks. This team desperately needs some young talent up front and while there are clearly some solid prospects, it's pretty hard to identify any can't miss types guaranteed to become the offensive leaders when the Sedins and Kesler ease off some time down the road.

And that almost certainly won't get done today as the big names begin to get snapped up and the complexion of the league changes at it always does in these two or three days of free agent activity.

Both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins could make offers for both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter assuming both are still available and haven't re-signed with their teams, that a particular possibility in the case of the Devils who were still after the American forward who got them to the Cup final. Their chances of keeping Parise haven't been helped by their inability to re-sign Martin Brodeur, although that may still happen as it's extremely unlikely the goalie would be anywhere nearly as effective somewhere else as he is playing for the Devils. Any team thinking he'd be better than Roberto Luongo for their team should take a second look.

The Wings are in an considerably stronger position to pull off the above described rare 'double' than any other team given their tremendous cap space, and if they do, they would likely reestablish themselves as the team to beat in the Western Conference and perhaps the whole league. And in the bargain they would leave the other teams scrambling and overpaying for the scraps.

And to be clear, landing Parise and Suter is going to be all about up front money which will be paid prior to any lockout. If anything, these deals could be even more front end loaded than was the Christian Ehrhoff deal last season. It's not that Suter and Parise will base their decisions on money alone, far from it. But any bidder will almost certainly be guaranteeing both players a sizable chunk of cash going into their jeans before Sept. 15 just to be part of the conversation.

Meanwhile the Canucks will be looking at White Rock's Jason Garrison if the money doesn't get too ridiculous, but at this point he is almost guaranteed large numbers. Signing Sami Salo is now suddenly a priority and perhaps they have to give the veteran Finnish D the two-year deal he was looking for so he can stay in the city where he wants to play. But getting at least one body under contract is a priority as well as a centre, although a possible Luongo trade could still fetch one of those two needs.

But that Newport Management decision with Schultz Saturday has to make everyone in the Canucks organization take a closer look at themselves and their future this morning.

 
 
 
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Justin Schultz, a native of Kelowna and free agent defenceman was heavily recruited by NHL teams including the Canucks. He has announced he's going to the Edmonton Oilers.
 

Justin Schultz, a native of Kelowna and free agent defenceman was heavily recruited by NHL teams including the Canucks. He has announced he's going to the Edmonton Oilers.

Photograph by: Elsa, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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