Vancouver Canucks: 5 Most Likely Players to Sign in Europe in the Coming Weeks
It is now Wednesday, Sept. 26; the 11th day of the 2012 NHL lockout and just 15 days shy of the original start of the regular season.
In anticipation of an extended lockout, numerous players have signed contracts in Europe to stay in shape and earn some money while Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr compare egos.
The bigger names include Rick Nash and Joe Thornton in Switzerland, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin in Russia, Anze Kopitar in Sweden and Erik Karlsson in Finland, with a long list to follow.
Those on the Vancouver Canucks, however, have elected to stay in North America for the time being.
If the lockout does continue, with negotiations going south, the following are the five most likely Canucks to ink a contract in Europe.
5. Roberto Luongo
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It might seem far-fetched to think Roberto Luongo would sign in Europe, but let's look at the facts.
Luongo has been on the trading block since the Canucks re-signed Cory Schneider during the summer. The biggest thing preventing a trade is his contract, which brings a cap hit of $5.33 million for the next 10 years, until he's 43 years old.
If Luongo wants to be a starter in the NHL, he'll need to keep his stock up and prove he's worth the gamble. After all, the real value in his contract is now, and no one wants to put their eggs in a rusty basket.
On the flip side, playing increases the risk of injury, which would seriously hurt his odds of being dealt.
4. Henrik and Daniel Sedin
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Many expected the Sedins to be on the first boat home to Sweden when the lockout was official. After all, they did start their professional careers with MODO of the Swedish Elite League and returned there during the 2004-05 lockout.
However, it's been a long time since then, and the Sedins are far too valuable to the Canucks and the city of Vancouver, with or without a lockout.
Their charitable contributions and community involvement will keep them around for now, but if the work stoppage extends to the point the entire season is threatened, don't be surprised to see them suiting up elsewhere.
3. Alexander Edler
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Of the 78 NHL players who have signed in Europe so far, 63 are European. It's clearly an easier transition for those who've experienced it before.
Alexander Edler, a native of Sweden, is one of the best defenders in the NHL. Whether with the Vancouver Canucks or a different team, Edler will be getting a new contract next summer. Ensuring he's playing professionally could help prove he's worth the big bucks.
2. Manny Malhotra
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Manny Malhotra is one of the few Canucks who was in the NHL during the 2004-05 lockout. During that year, he spent time playing in both Slovenia and Sweden.
If the season is in jeopardy, I see no reason why he wouldn't do the same again.
1. Jannik Hansen
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As mentioned, it's far easier for European players to make the decision to sign there.
Jannik Hansen began his career with the Rødovre Mighty Bulls of the Danish league, and has reportedly been in contact with them already.
With a salary of just $1.35 million, a year unpaid may not be an option.