After weeks of rumours, Willie Mitchell finally ended the suspense on Wednesday, signing a two-year deal worth $3.5 million per season. According to most, including yours truly, he hit a home run. While still a very effective defenseman, I thought that he would have to give up a little bit more money and/or term given his age and concussion history. Quite simply, he was out of the Canucks price range. The Canucks are very deep on defense and already have an injury riddled d-man they’re holding their breathe on with Sami Salo.
The LA Kings were in good position to sign Mitchell, given the room they have under the cap and also fits a more pressing need for them. Canucks fans ought to be sad that Mitchell has left the team, while understanding that this was a tough deal for the Canucks to match. Canucks fans should also be a little worried that of all teams, Mitchell went to a conference rival. Mitchell will almost surely be matched up against the Sedins, and will try to poke check the crap out of them. He knows all of their tendencies and would probably match-up really well against them.
With every passing day that Kevin Bieksa isn’t traded, I’m believing that he will remain a Canuck. With Mitchell leaving and Sami Salo on long term injury reserve (as well as Burrows on long term injury reserve), Bieksa’s importance increases, as does the room under the cap because of the injuries to Burrows and Salo. Lets hope that Bieksa has a strong year, because surely he must be motivated after hearing his name being dragged through the mud all summer.
Canucks Ink Torres
News broke late Tuesday evening that Mike Gillis signed Raffi Torres to a one-year $1 million deal. Torres is an absolute bargain. He can be a streaky player who certainly has his ups and downs but when he is good he is very good.
So what’s to like? Raffi Torres is a former 5th overall draft choice who netted 19 goals last year and had a career high 27 goals in 2005-06. He’s also only 28 and brings a physical element to the game. From what I remember and what I’ve seen on Youtube, Torres can deliver some devastating hits, something the Canucks desperately need.
So what’s the bad? The bad is that Torres hasn’t lived up to expectations placed on him after a successful junior career. He’s been inconsistent, marred with injury troubles and is now with his fifth NHL team.
As far as the Canucks are concerned, Raffi Torres should fit in on the third line once everyone is healthy, potentially on a line with Manny Malhotra and Cody Hodgson. That line has a lot of potential in my opinion, and could end up being a lot better than last year’s third line. Of course, Alex Burrows is still recovering from shoulder surgery and will miss the first couple months of the season. Torres is a good bet to move up and play on the second line in his absense, while Mikael Samuelsson could play with the Sedins. Raffi Torres will also probably get lots of power play time (he scored seven power play goals for Columbus last season).
All in all, this was a low risk move by Gillis with lots of potential. Good signing in my opinion.
Who’s got the C?
Take it for what it’s worth, but there are unconfirmed reports that the Canucks are planning to strip Luongo of the C and give it to Henrik Sedin. Is this a good move? I think so, although not that I’m sold as Henrik being the captain. Luongo is the Canucks most important player and I think most agree that the captaincy has become a distraction for him, as it would with any goaltender. But Henrik? Didn’t most of Vancouver agree that quiet Swedish captains who don’t hit make poor leaders? Well it seems our tune has changed. I think Ryan Kesler would be a better choice as a player to stand up in the locker room do everything on the ice.