Summer is already halfway over. Pretty soon season preview magazines will start arriving, and training camp is around the corner.
So I figured its about time to take a look at what the Canucks have, what they lack, and put it all together with a hypothetical roster that works with the salary cap.
First the numbers. For 2010-2011, the salary cap is $59,400,000. The Canucks however have a penalty of $90,000 in performance bonuses that carried over from last season.
Top 6 Forwards
The Canucks have a returning top 6 with a lot of skill, good 2-way players and some really good skaters (Kesler, Raymond). What they don’t have is a big power forward or two to crash the net.
Henrik Sedin ($6,100,000)
Daniel Sedin ($6,100,000)
Bottom 6 + Depth Forwards
Here the situation isn’t as clear-cut.
Malhotra is a solid veteran who should be on the 3rd line. In Rypien and Glass, the team’s best fighter and leader in hits for the Canucks, respectively, should contribute on the 4th line.
After that, it really gets tricky.
The Canucks have a pair of first round picks in Schroeder and Hodgson who might get a shot at contributing in the NHL this year. They’ve been able to produce in limited AHL action with the Moose, but are they too small to play in the NHL?
Does Gillis feel pressure to try and work his first rounders into the lineup after rightfully bashing the drafting under the Nonis regime?
There are some physical players in Oreskovich, Bolduc and Desbiens who might make the team to round out the lineup as well.
Oreskovich is a player that could fill Bernier’s role on the 4th line, and Gillis specifically had him included in the Ballard trade.
Desbiens could make the team based solely on his physical play, but the 25-year-old right winger may be able to contribute offensively as well. He has put up 40 goals and 302 PIM over the last 2 seasons for the Moose, and seems the closest thing the Canucks have to a power forward in the system.
Other Gillis acquisitions in Perrault and Tambellini seem to be destined for the Moose, barring an impressive training camp performance or injuries.
What the Canucks are really missing here is a big, shutdown type center for the fourth line. They need an enforcer who could intimidate other heavyweights.
I didn’t mention Hansen and Hordichuk, because I don’t think they make the team either. Hordichuk just doesn’t contribute enough to warrant a roster spot and his cap hit. (See this other article for more info)
Hansen seems to have priced himself out of the lineup as well with his arbitration award. He makes too much to be a spare part as in years past, and I think Gillis would like to use that salary and roster spot instead for one of his own picks. (i.e. Hodgson or Schroeder)
Hodgson ($1,666,666) *850,000 Performance Bonus
Shirokov ($1,350,000) *500,000 Performance Bonus
Schroeder ($1,025,000) *125,000 Performance Bonus
The Canucks are stacked at D, although Salo is injured already. Bieksa seems to be the consensus candidate to be traded as a salary dump, which still leaves 8 NHL caliber D.
I’ve also included Baumgartner on this list as well, as he is a capable call-up for injury situations, and is very cap friendly. Oberg could theoretically play some games as well if Gillis wants to start working him into the lineup.
What the Canucks don’t have is a stud defenceman like a Pronger, Keith or Doughty who can play 30 minutes a night.
Oberg ($1,562,500) *812,500 Performance Bonus
Look for Luongo to have a lessened workload this season, both in preparation for the playoffs and so that Schneider can be showcased for a potential trade.
My vision of the roster ?
Well, based upon what players are already signed, I predict something like this:
Daniel + Henrik + Burrows
Raymond + Kesler + Samuelsson
Schroeder + Hodgson + Malhotra
Glass + Rypien + Oreskovich
Salo (Use Alberts as the LITR replacement)
Total Salary : 60,527,500
Performance Bonuses : 2,112,500
Cap Space if not including Performance Bonuses : 985,000
Some thoughts on why I picked the roster like this:
1. This is based on what the Canucks actually have signed, so yes, there are some definite areas of concern.
2. I predicted 13 forwards and 8 D, rather than the traditional 14 forwards and 7 D, because of the injury problems the Canucks have had over the last few years.
3. I tried to run as close to the cap as possible while still leaving some wiggle room for trade and injuries. Yes, I did count on using the bonus cushion to exceed the cap, in order to maximize the roster for this season. (See this article for more info on my reasoning for doing so and Performance Bonuses)
4. I assumed Bieksa was traded without taking on salary back in return.
5. I included both Schroeder and Hodgson in the lineup for a few reasons.
First, I think both will play games this year, and at least one will be in the lineup at any given time. I think Gillis has confidence in them, and is willing to let them play in a somewhat protected role on the 3rd line along with a steady veteran, behind a 1st/2nd line that helped the Canucks put up the 2nd best goals for in the NHL last season. So they won’t be needed to contribute meaningfully right away (i.e. how the Sedins were brought in behind the dominant West Coast Express)
Second, they cost the most out of the players I think that reasonably could fill those 3rd line slots (others being Hansen, Shirokov. Oreskovich or Desbiens), so it relatively easy to substitute them for players with lower cap hits.
6. I included Oberg in the D because I think it would be prudent to start working him in. The Canucks face a potential overhaul of the D next year, with Alberts, Obrien, Salo, Erhoff and Bieksa all being UFA, so having Oberg play some games this year couldn’t hurt.
7. Salo’s injury. I noted Alberts would be Salo’s LITR replacement. The Canucks are right up on the cap due to the performance bonuses (actually exceeding the cap), so the LITR exception allows Gillis to essentially write off Alberts salary while Salo is out. Once Salo is back, send either Alberts OR Oberg down to the minors, depending on who is playing better. (See this article for more info on Salo and LITR exceptions)
8. Burrows may not be able to start the season due to his shoulder surgery, but I doubt he misses too much time, unlike Salo, so I didn’t count this as a major factor. Might give some others a chance to impress in the top 6 though.
9. Yes, this lineup includes enough cap space that Gillis could trade Erhoff instead of Bieksa. Which would be my preferred option , albeit one that goes against popular opinion.
10. Rypien is indeed listed as the 4th line center. I’m not seeing a lot of other options that would be markedly better on the depth chart unfortunately.
Looking at this, the Canucks don’t look much different than last year. A skilled team that should put up a lot of points, but which is also lacking size amongst the forwards.
Hopefully Gillis can make some more improvements to the roster, otherwise the Canucks will have to hope that a combination of Loungo rebounding, rookies contributing and Chicago shedding their support players will be enough to get them deeper into the playoffs this year.