As a Canucks fan I'm void of satisfaction with my team..it's my own fault, and I'm sure it's the cross that all Nux fans bare. If you're like me, atleast, you're to a degree able to enjoy this cup run (first of three in which we are the favourites), but with the dismantling of the last year's cup champ still fresh in the memories of all NHL fans it's hard not to think ahead to the aftermath.
The Canucks used the most players this year, a testament to our depth, and as the President's (and soon to be Stanley) Cup Champions we should be sufficed with our teams capabilities, but one glaring upgrade to make is our five-on-five play and where that can especially be improved is depth of offensive threats beyond Kess and the top-line. If our power-play and PK weren't so strong we definitely wouldn't be where we are today, and if we don't upgrade then the dynasty dream won't be a reality despite the great moves by management to lock up our core players long term.
Our top line and PP can score, and all of our forwards are capable defenders, but we need secondary scoring at even strength. Luckilly we have a ton of assets (again thanks to great signings and scouting by nux staff) but unfortunately we're also right up against the cap limit.
Kevin Bieksa's inspired play in this postseason and solid regular season mean he'll be back, and no other d-man brings more offense (a key to our success) than Christian Ehrhoff, also a UFA, so the two must return to join Edler and Hamhuis next season, and we have a glut of good young prospects ready to make the leap, and with Aaron Rome still under contract for one more year it's become apparent that to make room on the back-end and under the cap we must somehow trade Keith Ballard.
I am not a Ballard-hater. His offensive numbers weren't great but I feel most thought he didn't perform just because he was in AV's doghouse, when in reality he was plus-ten and played through injury when he came over hurt. And on most teams his cap hit isn't too bad. Compare him to other defensemen in his income bracket and he doesn't look too bad, he's just a victim of the Nux deep D pipe-line and the salary cap. I think he is totally tradeable, and unfortunately we need to move him to make room.
Next the Nux have to trade Mikael Samuelson and Mason Raymond, two very servicable players but Cody Hodgson needs to play top-six minutes and will be a great addition as a winger to our second line and second PP unit. This sets the table for the next move, trading Cory Schneider. He deserves it and if we don't he'll walk, also, Eddie Lack (another smart signing by Nux brass) is ready for NHL duty. he's worth more at the draft then the deadline so it will be sooner rather than later so I expect Mike Gillis will have a summer comparable to Stan Bowman's last year.
Who Needs a goalie and what can we expect in return?
Two teams in our own backyard, the North West Division, Edmonton and Colorado, both loaded with prospects but it would be tough to see Schneider succesful with teams that are direct rivals. David Jones posted 27 goals for the Avs last year and could be available...I don't have enough time to list the Oilers assets, but would Gillis really move within his own division?
Three teams in the Atlantic will need a keeper: The Isles, Devils and Flyers. We need immediate impact players, so the Devils are out, and the Isle's would be remiss to move any of the prospects they have that have turned out, which makes the Flyers the most likely dance partner, with a glut of offensive players that could be moved including: Jeff Carter, James Van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux. Carter, recently signed, is cap hit of 6mil which we can fit if we move Ballard, if not it's foreseeable keep Ballard and sacrifice Ehrhoff or Bieksa and still fit Carter, but that's unlikely. There's no way the Flyers should move JVRD which leaves Grioux's managable contract of 3.75. Also he's a playmaker whic a second line in Vancouver will need rather than a power forward goal scorer like JVRD or Carter. Any of the three will make Vancouver a significantly better five on five offensive threat, and that's a scary thought for opposing teams.
Columbus may have lost faith in Steve Mason and they have a few good second line players like Antoine Vermette, Derek brassard or Jakob Voracek...Ditto for Tampa Bay with names like Teddy Purcell and Steve Downie.
The Flyers and Ilya Bryzgalov are professing an interest to sign, but, with the Flyers cap crunch I don't think it's feasible.
With these moves the 2011-12 defending champs should look like:
Sedin Sedin Burrows
Carter Kesler Hodgson
Torres Malhotra Hansen
Tambelini Bolduc Oreskovich
Lou and Lack
Torres and Hansen need to be resigned, both at small pay increases....this team needs their physicality. Tambelini needs to comeback because he can play up and down the line-up. Bolduc looked great before injury and has size and footspeed, same for Oreskovich, so they can replace Raymond's PK time.
All of this improving the team and restocking the cupboard with draft picks and prospects for players like Ballard, Raymond, Samuelson.