We’re now less than 24 hours away from the NHL trade deadline (the deadline is at noon on Monday) and there are plenty of rumours going around. The latest has the Canucks interested in Marty Reasoner. I first brought up this idea 11 days ago, and it’s nice to see that it looks like Mike Gillis has listened. Matthew Sekeres reported that the Canucks have indeed inquired about Reasoner, but he and the Panthers are talking about a contract extension. Sekeres also offered up this tidbit, that the Canucks tried to acquire Reasoner at last year’s trade deadline, but the Thrashers (his team at the time) wanted a 2nd round draft pick for him.
One of the most exciting days on the NHL calendar is just around the corner. That day is trade deadline day, and it’s less than two weeks away. We have already gotten a taste of deadline day in recent days, with the Leafs and Senators beginning to offload players.
Ok ok before you freak out after reading the headline and trash me in the comments section, let me explain. Michael Grabner is not the second coming of Brett Hull. Far from it. So why bring it up? Let me explain… In case you haven’t noticed, former Canucks 1st round draft pick Michael Grabner is on quite a tear right now. After a slow start to the season, Grabner has 15 goals and 6 assists in his last 15 games. That’s brought his goal total up to 24 this year while playing on the Islanders third line. And that’s what makes this all the more impressive for Grabner. He hasn’t been given prime time minutes. He has received minimal power play time and is averaging only 14 minutes a game. Yesterday he netted a hat trick in only 15:06 of playing time. ‘Grabby’ is now on pace for 35 goals this year, imagine what that would look like playing 17-18 minutes a night? Imagine what he could do after he matures a little more. Somewhere Dave Nonis is saying “I told you so”.
Sami Salo is back, well, almost. He’s been skating for a long time now, and has been practicing and traveling with the team for a couple of weeks also. So when is he set to return? The Canucks are keeping this somewhat secretive, but it looks to be soon. The reason is of course the salary cap. The Canucks are very close to the cap right now and will be over it when Salo returns. According to CapGeek, the Canucks would need to get rid of $1.8 million of annual salary if Salo returned today.
Dear Kevin, I have an apology to make. I was in favour of trading you last summer. Well, not even just last summer. I didn’t like your game. I thought you couldn’t return to the player that the city of Vancouver fell in love with in 2006-07. Even this year, I said some nasty things. I said you were not a shutdown defenseman. But here you are, paired with Dan Hamhuis playing against the other teams’ best lines and playing great! You’re now leading the defense corps in plus-minus, are back to playing mean and lately you’ve even begun putting up points again!
Let me immediately state that this is not a trade rumour. Nobody has suggested that the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames are talking trade or that Mike Gillis is shopping Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard or Cory Schneider. Even new Flames general manager Jay Feaster has said that he is not interested in trading the face of the franchise, Jarome Iginla. While we can choose to believe or not believe Jay Feaster, it’s still unlikely that he would trade Iginla to Vancouver given that they are a division rival. The point of asking this question centres around a bigger question. When (if ever) is the time to load up, trade for a player to put your team over the hump, while sacrificing some of your future? I think this year might be the year and a Raymond/Ballard/Schneider for Iginla deal is at least worth a thought.
The rumour mill is heating up with regards to Willie Mitchell and shockingly it appears the Canucks may still be in the race. It looks like the free agent d-man is now symptom free and will be ready to start the season. He has also reportedly narrowed his search to four teams: Washington, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver. Mike Gillis didn’t do anything to curtail rumours, admitting to talking to Mitchell.
The Canucks announced on Monday that they have re-signed Mason Raymond. The restricted free agent re-signed just minutes before his arbitration case was to be heard. But that’s not the surprising part, the surprising part is that Mike Gillis was able to get Raymond to sign a two year deal, worth $2.55 per season. There’s no doubt in my mind that Raymond would have been awarded more in arbitration, perhaps well more. In fact, most pundits (including myself)were predicting $3 million or more.
When you have eight NHL defencemen under contract and are still set to re-sign Shane O’Brien, rumours are bound to follow. When you’re the #6 d-man on the depth chart and making $3.75 million, chances are you’ll be the guy talked about in those rumours. I’m speaking of course of Kevin Bieksa, who was rumoured to be on the trade block by yours truly after the Keith Ballard trade and is now being rumoured all over the place. Despite the fact that Mike Gillis isn’t confirming that Bieksa is being shopped, you have to believe he is.
Mike Gillis has hit a free agent home run, signing the much coveted Dan Hamhuis to a 6 year deal worth $4.5 million per season. Hamhuis will step-in as their number one shutdown defenceman, replacing Willie Mitchell. He will bring defensive stability and toughness to the blueline.
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