Vancouver Canucks: How I See the Rest of the NHL Offseason Playing Out
After a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings, management and fans alike have realized some retooling is in order for the Vancouver Canucks if they want to finally get over the hump and win the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Championship.
Even after the nice addition of rugged defenseman Jason Garrison to replace the departed Sami Salo and Aaron Rome, there are still some very important moves that the Canucks need to make this offseason.
This is how I see the rest of the Vancouver Canucks' summer playing out.
Shane Doan Signs with Vancouver
A big, gritty, power forward with great leadership ability. Shane Doan could be just what the doctor ordered for the Canucks, who lacked toughness, depth scoring and leadership during the playoffs last year.
Doan is looking for a chance to go to a team and win a Cup, but he also doesn't want to completely uproot his family and move them somewhere strange and new for a chance to do it.
Vancouver would provide the easiest transition for him and his family as his wife is from British Columbia. He is also part-owner of the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers, and he spends time there every offseason.
Canucks Trade Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers for Nick Bjugstad
After losing his starting job to Cory Schneider during the playoffs last year, it seems that both Luongo and the Canucks' management have realized that it’s time for Luongo to move on.
Luongo would love nothing more than to go home to Florida where his wife and kids live. The fact that the Panthers were a playoff team last year could only strengthen Luongo’s desire to go to Florida. Seeing as he holds a full "no trade" clause in his contract, Luongo can essentially choose wherever he wants to play next season (as long as the team is willing to take on his contract).
As for Bjugstad, he is a 20-year-old first-round pick of the Florida Panthers. He spent last year at the University of Minnesota, where he collected 25 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. The 6’5” center seems ready to make the jump to the NHL, and with Vancouver lacking size and depth at center, Bjugstad could be a great fit.
Canucks Sign UFA Goalie Cristobal Huet
Huet signed a four-year, $22.4 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008.
However, he was loaned to HC Fribourg-Gotteron SA of the Swiss National League A after the Blackhawks ran into salary cap issues before the start of the 2010 season.
Now that his contract with Chicago is over, Huet is free to sign with another NHL team and make a return to the best hockey league in the world, and apparently he is interested in doing just this.
When the Canucks ultimately trade Luongo, they will need a veteran backup to help Schneider become an everyday starter and to offer him support without actually being in competition with him for the starting job, as Luongo was. He must also be able to step in if Schneider should falter for any prolonged stretch during the season. Huet is the perfect fit for this job, and having worked with Canucks goalie coach Rollie Melanson before, Vancouver may be a fit for him as well.
This is very possibly how the rest of Vancouver’s summer will play out. If it does, a completely healthy Canucks lineup next year could look something like this:
D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Booth - Kesler - Higgins
Raymond - Bjugstad - Doan
Kassian - Lapierre - Hansen
Bieksa - Hamhuis
Garrison - Edler
Ballard - Alberts
Although their defence is still a bit thin, the Canucks would be much bigger and deeper at forward than they were last season.
This is how I see the rest of the Canucks offseason playing out, but I’d also like to know what you think will happen. So please, share your opinion in the comments section below.