Vancouver Canucks re-sign 'more confident, stronger' Alex Burrows to four-year deal
Top prospects Zack Kassian, Chris Tanev, others assigned to AHL Chicago Wolves, top pick Nicklas Jensen off to Sweden
After agreeing to a new four-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks, Alex Burrows answers reporters’ questions outside Rogers Arena on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.
Photograph by: Kim Stallknecht, PNG
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks secured a key member of their core group Friday, but missed out on the sweepstakes of a coveted free agent.
The Canucks and winger Alex Burrows came to terms on a four-year contract extension worth a reported $18 million — the deal coming just a day before the National Hockey League owners are expected to officially declare a lockout at the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement.
The news came just as reporters were awaiting word on whether free agent Shane Doan, 35, would choose between remaining with the Phoenix Coyotes or signing with the Canucks.
Essentially, nothing changed. Doan is staying in the desert. Burrows is staying in Vancouver.
“I never really thought about leaving. All along I always wanted to stay in Vancouver and as soon as the management showed interest for an extension, for me it was a no-brainer,” the 31-year-old Burrows told reporters outside Rogers Arena.
“I’m glad that my agent (Paul Corbeil) was able to work it out with management.”
This latest contract will work out to about $4.5 million a season, and kicks in for the 2013-14 season.
Burrows has one year remaining on a four-year deal that pays him $2 million a season — a bargain considering the feisty winger has been consistently above the 25-goal mark for each of the last four seasons.
He had 22 goals combined in his first three seasons in Vancouver, and found himself in the penalty box for a total of 333 minutes.
He still yaps, still chirps at the opposition, finding new ways to get under their skin. But his offensive contributions to the Canucks — back-to-back President’s Trophy winners and Stanley Cup finalists in 2011 — have increased tremendously over the past five years.
“I think I’m way more confident, I think I got more mature, stronger,” said Burrows.
“I know the league much better. I know what it takes to be successful and I don’t get too emotional with the highs and lows. I learned that I’ve got to keep an even-keel mentality and (I’ve dealt) with that much better than my first few years.”
He scored 35 times and added 67 points in 2009-10, and was able to put up 28 goals and 52 points this past season, as the Canucks again finished atop the NHL by regular season’s end, but were bounced in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings.
Not bad for a guy who had the privilege of playing in such hockey hotbeds as Baton Rouge in the East Coast Hockey League.
“Anytime you can get one of your core players signed, you’re very happy,” said Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman.
“Alex is obviously a very big part of our team both on the ice and in our dressing room.”
It was reported last month that Burrows and the Canucks had begun negotiations on an extension, although there’s reason to believe the two sides were far apart in one aspect or another early on in the process.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in the right ballpark when you start, it’s that you finish in the same park,” said Gilman.
“In this case, it was a fairly long and protracted negotiation, but happily both Alex and the club wanted to conclude it and fortunately we were able to do so.”
Still, there is the belief Burrows could have attracted a bigger price on the open market as a free agent. His numbers since getting paired with Daniel and Henrik Sedin in 2008-09 alone represent a player deserving of a significant raise.
The trio has become a menace for opposing teams.
“I owe them a lot for sure, the way I’ve been able to grow my game,” said Burrows, who also plays on the penalty kill and has shown tremendous versatility. News of the signing quickly spread to UBC, where players were getting in one last skate before the weekend.
“Excellent player, awesome teammate. Take him on my team any day of the week,” said L.A. Kings defenceman Willie Mitchell, who played four seasons with Burrows in Vancouver.
“Competes, understands the game … shit disturber … I know playing against him now and I know what my peers don’t like playing against him, but when you don’t like playing against a guy, what does that say?”
Burrows now enters a curious time in his career.
Undrafted, Burrows turns 32 years of age next April. The window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup in Vancouver may also be edging smaller, as the core group of players — the Sedin twins and Kevin Bieksa are all 31 years old, while Ryan Kesler is 28 — collectively gets one year older.
Burrows still believes he can contribute, if and when the NHL resumes on-ice activity.
“I think I can play a two-way game, even when I get older,” said Burrows, clad in an NHL Players’ Association hat as he met with the media.
“I can, maybe not score at the same pace, but still be a solid player and for me that’s five years down the road, so I’m going to focus on this season and then go from there.”
The Burrows signing became the local headliner heading into this weekend of uncertainty with the NHL.
Vancouver, which had tabled an offer to Doan earlier this summer, was unable to ink the power forward, despite reports his decision was between the Canucks and Coyotes.
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks on Friday also announced they have reassigned several players — among them top prospects Zack Kassian, Eddie Lack, Chris Tanev and Kevin Connauton — to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.
Also, 2011 first-round draft pick Nicklas Jensen will be joining AIK of the Sweden Elite League, as the NHL braces for a lockout of its players.
• The following players have been assigned to the AHL Wolves:
Eddie Lack, goalie.
Joe Cannata, goalie.
Peter Andersson, defence.
Derek Joslin, defence.
Kevin Connauton, defence.
Patrick Mullen, defence.
Adam Polasek, defence.
Yann Sauve, defence.
Stefan Schneider, defence.
Chris Tanev, defence.
Steven Anthony, forward.
Darren Archibald, forward.
Guillaume Desbiens, forward.
Andrew Ebbett, forward.
Alex Friesen, forward.
Andrew Gordon, forward.
Zack Kassian, forward.
Alexandre Mallet, forward.
Prab Rai, forward.
Anton Rodin, forward.
Jordan Schroeder, forward.
Bill Sweatt, forward.
Kellan Tochkin, forward.
• The following players have been assigned to junior clubs:
Brendan Gaunce, forward (first-round draft choice in 2012), to Belleville of the Ontario Hockey League.
Frank Corrado, defence, to Sudbury of the OHL.
Evan McEneny, defence, to Kitchener of the OHL.
On Twitter: Twitter.com/camtuckersun
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun