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The Canucks at the Deadline

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The Vancouver Canucks are a good team, and I'm not the least bit happy about it. They're the favorites to win the the Stanley Cup, and my only consolation is that even the favorites are no better than taking two live cards heads-up against pocket aces before the flop. Mike Gillis has suggested that the team won't be pulling any big moves, which fits with what he's done at the deadline since becoming the team's general manager. That said, I expect Gillis to improve the club with a small but effective move that doesn't mortgage the Canucks' future. And I'm not the least bit happy about it.

The Big Picture

The cap for next season will likely be slightly more than $60M, but the Canucks have used the strategy of starting the year with injured players to game the system this year, and you can bet their dirty cheating will continue. Even still, I'll use $60M as a loose guideline. Here's the chart I've been using for spending guidelines:

Top 3 Forwards - 27.5% or $16,500,000
Middle 6 Forwards - 20.0% or $12,000,000
Top 4 Defenders - 27.5% or $16,500,000
Goaltending - 10.0% or $6,000,000
Bottom 8 Players - 15.0% or $9,000,000

Here it is again with the players the Canucks have signed for 2011-12 with the percentages reflecting a $60M budget (I've used cap hits for the calculations rather than real dollars):

Top 3 Forwards - Sedin, Sedin, Kesler - 28.7% or $17,200,000
Middle 6 Forwards - Raymond, Samuelsson, Malhotra, Burrows, ???, ??? - 15.9% or $9,550,000
Top 4 Defenders - Hamhuis, Edler, Ballard, ??? - 19.9% or $11,950,000
Goaltending - Luongo, Schneider - 10.4% or $6,233,333
Bottom 8 Players - Rome, Parent, ???, ???, ???, ???, ???, ??? - 2.8% or $1,675,000

The Canucks have a good amount of their core players already signed for next season, and have enough money at their disposal to sign three pretty darn good players. In the top three categories, the Canucks have three spots left, and they have $6.3M left in room for those three players. The bottom eight players on the roster will need to be almost totally rebuilt - there are two players signed for next year, and one of them is playing in the AHL right now - either with youth in the system or free agents. That gives the Canucks tremendous flexibility. If there's a player out there that the Canucks want, Mike Gillis can easily fit him into next year's cap structure as well, which is exactly what he did last season with Andrew Alberts. Since players with an extra year tend to be less in demand, he can probably acquire said player at a good price. So what might the Canucks need? Here's their current depth chart:

Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
Raymond - Kesler - Samuelsson
Torres - Malhotra - Hansen
Glass - Hodgson - Oreskovich
Tambellini - Bolduc (AHL) - Volpatti (AHL)

Hamhuis - Salo
Ballard - Ehrhoff
Rome - Tanev
Edler (Inj) - Bieksa (Inj)
Alberts (Inj) - Sweatt (Inj)

Lack (AHL)

Not many holes. The goaltending is set, and the defense looks good, especially considering four guys are out with various injuries right now. If I was in the mood for adding it would be up front. The top nine is very good, but (as with most clubs) the quality drops off significantly after that. The only problem the Canucks have is that they'll need to trade someone off the roster in order to pick up any help since they're so close to the cap. Right now, they could pick up about $600,000 in salary without moving a body. That means the Canucks are unlikely to make any big moves, although it's not impossible. Take the Ales Hemsky sweepstakes. The Canucks would need to move two bodies off the roster plus give up futures in order to make it happen, something like Mason Raymond, Andrew Alberts, Cody Hodgson, and a first rounder. Actually, that sounds plausible. Huh. More likely, especially considering the verbal from GM Mike Gillis, it'll be something smaller like Marty Reasoner out of Florida for Tanner Glass and a pick. A guy like Reasoner makes the team just a little bit deeper up front and on the PK, and provides insurance in case any of the top three centers gets injured since he's already quite familiar with Manny Malhotra's role of "all defensive zone draws all the time".

NHL Trade Rumors and Hockey Blogs - SB Nation NHL Trade Deadline