Kevin Bieksa has played his way off the trade block, and to paraphrase him he says the team is ready for a cup run. Well, they look like it in just about every single way, and so lets put the cart before the horse and say the Canucks make the cup final, win or lose, two things have to happen:
1. Create Cap Space
2. Retain players
The Canucks have to free u p1.8 million to allow for Sami Salo to return. He has to return, he just can' t be hurt forever, can he? He has a no trade clause and is a UFA at season's end. It seems innevitable he'll be back at which point someone has got to go.
The papers are pointing at Raffi Torres and Mikael Samuelson, but I would hope they were safe. They look great on the third line together, but if it were one, for easy numbers, it would have to be Samuelson with the larger salary(2.5 million) and another year left after this one. Moving Samuelson does both of these things with minimal immediate negative impact since Jeff Tambelini has stepped up big time, and it creates a roster spot for next season for Cody Hodgson in the top six forwards.
Any takers? I'm sure there will be teams that need to add salary to get to the cap floor and qualify for revenue sharing, so looking for small market teams with low cap. He might be the missing piece in offensively challenged competitors line ups, like Phoenix or Nashville.
It's terrible to discuss given his contributions to this team, coming out of nowhere to post a career high 30 goals last season.
My hope would be for Salo to waive his NTC, bite the bullet and be moved. It's not fair to anyone, but given Salo hasn't been around this year I hope it's Samuelson who sticks around to see how far this club can go, granted Salo has been a warrior for this team for years.
There are other roster questions for 2011-12. Christian Ehrfhoff is a UFA and due for a raise this off season, ditto for Alex Edler the year after. They're both going to command around 5 Million per when their time comes. As good as Bieksa has played he may just be entering free agency. There's no way you can afford him after commiting a forseeable 18.7 million/season to the quartet of Ballard, Hamhuis, Edler and Ehrhoff. With those kind of dollars to a top four we may just see a cost efficient veteran and cheap rookie contract in the 5-6 hole next year, and with a top four like that it would be a perfect scenario to bring along a Lee Sweatt, Kevin Connauton or Yan Sauve. Hamhuis isn't a Power Play specialist so Connauton could be a fixture on the second PP unit. He's go 8 goals already with the Moose.
In net Cory Schneider has one more year of his enry level contract left at .9 million. I can't believe he will be around for 2011-12 as he's played his value so high Canucks fans can expect a hefty return from any of the many teams that need a #1 goalie. Look for Lack to Back up Lou next year at around the same buck.
Up front the core is locked up, the twins, Kess and Burr. But Glass, Tambellini and Torres will be UFA's looking for a raise, and Bolduc and Hansen are restricted. If Samuelson is a casualty of the salary cap this year then we'll see some turn-over up front. Billy Sweatt has impressed and Cody Hodgson continues to battle injuries despite showing good progress. Jordan Schroeder has flatlined, but Sergei Shirokov lead sthe Moose in scoring and has a great +/- ranking too, and he's stated he's determined to play with the big club.
Do these moves sounds like the outset of a perennial contender?