I haven’t written anything about the Canucks for a while, so here are a few thoughts on the draft, recent free agency activity and the rest of the summer:
- In the first round of the draft, the Canucks selected Jordan Schroeder, a 5’8″ American forward from the University of Minnesota. College players usually take longer to development, and enter the NHL later, so don’t plan on seeing him in a Canucks uniform any time too soon. He led the US team in scoring at the World Juniors last winter, so that’s encouraging. Hopefully he’s the second coming of Cliff Ronning. Here’s a two-minute video profile of him.
- Credit Canucks GM with re-signing the Sedins. I hoped and expected this to happen, but I think it’s an excellent deal. $6.1 million a year is, to my thinking, a little below market value for these guys. That money makes them the 34th and 35th best-paid players in the league (great looking salary site there, by the way). If you check out some of those players (Jovanovski, Stastny, Gaborik, Gomez, among others) ahead of them on the list, that money looks well spent.
- The team lost Mattias Ohlund, which was almost a certainty. Ohlund is never a player who’s seemed comfortable in the limelight, so I suspect he’ll be quite happy being more anonymous in Tampa Bay.
- Maintaining the Canucks’ Swede quotient, Gillis signed Mikael Samuelsson. The 32-year-old winner scored 19 goals and added 21 assists last season. He’ll make a decent replacement for Taylor Pyatt, who I expect to be signed by another team over the coming weeks. Well, a decent replacement on the ice. Samuelsson’s eyes are decidedly less dreamy than Pyatt’s. More importantly, Samuelsson has a ton of playoff experience and even played with the Sedins for a bit back in Sweden.
- The team extended restricted free agent Kyle Wellwood a qualifying offer, which I imagine he’ll sign. He was kind of a revelation this year, and an excellent reclamation project. They same goes for another RFA, Jannik Hansen.
- I’m optimistic that the team won’t re-sign Mats Sundin. He’s done, and looked it in the playoffs.
- The Canucks’ most urgent need is on the blue line. Even with Ohlund, the defence looked decidedly creaky against Chicago in the playoffs. They urgently need to get younger and faster. I’ve read some rumours about signing Francois Beauchemin, who would be a great addition. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anybody on the farm team who can step up, and the team doesn’t have a lot of spare assets with which to make a trade.
So, what will the line-up look like come the opening night of the 2009-2010 season? Here’s my best guess:
Sedin – Sedin – Burrows
Samuelsson – Kessler – Demitra
Raymond – Wellwood – Bernier
Hordichuk – Johnson – Rypien
Mitchell – Salo
Edler – Bieksa
O’Brien – Nycholat