Changes Needed on West Coast

The Vancouver Canucks have for the last few season have been a very solid, competitive team. But they have struggled to get over the hump and do much damage in the playoffs. In fact, the damage they usually inflict is on themselves. Whether it be the poor goaltending by Dan Cloutier, the disappearance of captain Markus Naslund or of course the infamous Bertuzzi incident, Vancouver has not had everything fall into place. Instead, things seem to fall to pieces.

Perhaps the personnel that they have now is not the right mix to get it done. Though the talent is there, perhaps the days of being a one line team continuously hoping for the Sedins to be superstar players and relying on the shaky goaltending of Cloutier are over. With a new CBA on the horizon, a new NHL to be showcased, perhaps Vancouver can put out a new Canucks team in the fall.

In fact, now may be the best time for Vancouver to make some changes. In this new economic world, the Canucks would be one of the teams in better shape. The Canucks only have 4 players under contract at a cost of approximately $11 million:

Forwards: Todd Bertuzzi, Trevor Linden, Ryan Kesler

Defence: Ed Jovanovski

They do have plenty of work however signing all their free agents. Much of their offence is without contracts with guys like MOrrison, Naslund, and the Sedins needing to be signed. Several solid role players like Cooke, Ruutuu, Chubarkov, May, Rucinsky are not with contracts. Most of their defence needs to be retained with Ohlund, Sopel, Salo, Allen, Malik all without deals and of course goaltender Cloutier needs to be resigned.

The big question is, will all or any of these players with contracts or without be back? That is a huge question for GM Dave Nonis to answer. As new GM, he was left with this daunting task of reshaping the Canucks. Nonis has a huge chance of remodeling Vancouver and building a team suitable for coach Marc Crawford and those potential rule changes aimed at opening up the game.

First Nonis is going to have to see if he can resign Naslund. Though he is their captain and best player, does Vancouver want to commit to him with a big long term deal? Based on his production, he may be looking at getting the maximum deal, but does he deserve it? He has not done that great in the playoffs and in he isnt the best fit as captain, especially after his immature comments about Steve Moore and the class of fringe NHLers. It is also unsure what Naslund will decide. There has been some retirement talk and him staying in Sweden for good. There is a chance he could join former Canucks GM Brian Burke in Anaheim. And there has also been thought that Naslund wishes to play with one of his best friends in Peter Forsberg. If the Canucks and Naslund decide to part ways, Vancouver will have some decent free agents to choose from. Namely Paul Kariya. Though Paul has not been as productive as Naslund, the skill set and impact are similar and the bonus is that he is from the area. It also may help that Kariya is a bit younger and likely will come cheaper than Naslund. it would be terrific for Vancouver to bring in a guy like Kariya as not only is he one of their own but a top player at that.

The Canucks second order of business is to decide what to do with Todd Bertuzzi. Do they keep him? Trade him? Will he even be reinstated? These are questions that remain unanswered. Perhaps Bertuzzi’s time is up but at the same time it would be very difficult now to get much of a return. In trading one of the best power forwards in the game, the Canucks will demand much in return. But considering his status, right now teams will not be offering as much. The fact that Bertuzzi has moved back to Ontario can be taken with a grain of salt, but it has put the seeds of doubt on his return. If the Canucks do trade him, it will probably be after he is reinstated and gets to play some games. The guy has been out of the game much longer than the other NHLers and really will need time to get his game back. But the Canucks could move him to get rid of his big contract and at least get something in return as when his contract ends, he will likely be unrestricted. Moving Bertuzzi may help Vancouver in the long run as it could provide the team with a decent return that could transform the Canucks to a more balanced scoring team. The rumour mill has mentioned countlessly Bertuzzi for Joe THornton but that seems very far fetched. Bertuzzi has been rumoured to Toronto but the Leafs have nothing to give in return. Teams like the Devils, Hawks and even the Wings have been looking to add a big forward who can score and have some assets to possibly move. And teams like Carolina and Florida are in the mix and would offer Bertuzzi a bit of a santuary away from the media hockey hype of Canada. And of course, on of Bertuzzi’s biggest fans is Brian Burke. Moving Bertuzzi and losing Naslund will completely change the face of the Canucks.

It is for certain that BC native Brendan Morrison will be back in the fold. So will their key role players like Cooke, Ruutuu, Linden and perhaps Brad May. Vancouver is in need of a natural centre who can win faceoffs. Linden is all they have at this point and Chubarov should be trade bait to perhaps improve other areas of the team. But the other question for Vancouver is what to do with the Sedins. The twins have not been as big of an impact as expected. Though good support scorers, they have not produced as well as expected and have not shown the kind of consistency that the team needs. This is why the team has struggled in the playoffs as it became more evident the Canucks were a one line team. It will be interesting to see if the twins come back as they could probably make bigger money playing over in Sweden. The Twins were Burke’s big move but perhaps GM Nonis may look at it differently and perhaps move them out. the tell all tale will be how easy/difficult the Sedins can be signed.

The twins have done a good job playing a third line support scoring role on the team but if they are gone, the team may look at their prospects to fill those roles. Ryan Kesler is almost certain to be on the big club thanks to his size and versatility. He had a solid 30 goal year on the farm and showed that offensive potential that seemed to be lacking earlier in his career. He should be a very good two way player. Jason King also should be with the Canucks full time next year. In his rookie year he bursted on the scene in Vancouver scoring early and often only to fade as time passed. But he has sniper potential and should be a solid performer if he gets to play and play with offensive players. Brandon Reid and Nathan Smith have kind of been busts after showing some flashes of potential but Brandon Nolan, the son of former NHL coach Ted Nolan may have a chance at the Canucks roster. Through sheer hard work he may will himself on the team. He probably be only a 4th line energy player at best but could do that job well. He could use more seasoning down on the farm at that wouldnt be a bad thing as he could use work in all facets of the game. The Canucks do have some decent depth that give the team some hope in the future.

The other huge question that needs answering is if Dan Cloutier the goalie who can deliver. We havent seen anything yet and perhaps we never will. He has been a solid goalie in the regular season, helping his team to a division title, posting regularly 30 wins and putting up solid numbers. But he has also been chronically hurt and has let in some deflating goals that have come at the absolute worst times. Everyone remembers the Lidstrom goal from centre ice. But the Canucks may have no choice but to keep Cloutier. The market for goalies is thin as there is nothing but aging backups or has beens available and Vancouver only has Alex Auld who is NHL ready. But is Auld number 1 goalie material? He was ok when thrown into the fire against the Flames in the last playoff but looked pretty shaky at times. His uneasiness is likely why the Canucks started to look to teh future by drafting Cory Schneider. After his 13-1 season at BC putting up impressive numbers, he is looking more and more like a smart move by the Canucks. Though he is years away, his size and agility give him NHL potential. But as of now, the Canucks goaltending picture is fuzzy. Cloutier is just not the guy to get it done.

The Canucks do have a very solid blueline. One that may be even better if the game gets opened up. All can skate and move the puck and are solid passers. All love to join the rush and gamble on offence. In a more open game, it will give the Canucks a huge advantage. But at the same time, their blueline is much to blame for their goaltending woes. There are too many gamblers on the Canucks defence. Jovanovski is a terrific impact defenceman but seems to look too much for the seek and destroy hit than playing his position. Ohlund is their most important guy back there as he always plays against the opponents top players. But he seems to either get hurt quite a bit or takes too many penalties to be effective in that role. If the refs do implement a big crackdown on fouls then Ohlund could be in trouble. And Ohlund is already saddled by playing with Brent Sopel. Though Soapy is a very good offensive blueliner and great at joining the rush, he is too soft and too lost at times in his own zone to be effective. Seeing how Ohlund plays against the best, Sopel struggles even more. The same can be said for Sami Salo. His huge shot is great on the PP but he may be a bit too soft to play against top players. The fact that he usually misses about half the year with injuries doesnt help either. The biggest surprises have been Bryan Allen and Marek Malik. It has been surprising that Allen with the way he plays has been able to stay healthy the last couple of seasons. He has been injury prone since even before he was drafted but has given the Canucks what they need in terms of size and toughness. Malik has also been good too using his size well in the defensive zone but showing some decent offence with solid passes to start the rush. It was surprising he played so consistently in 03-04 considering his rap has been the lack of consistency. The Canucks hope he can keep that up. Even the team’ top blueline prospect Kirill Koltsov is offence first. He has a chance to make it especially if some of the in*****bents are not brought back. 2 years on the farm has helped him be better in his own zone, but his offensive ability, speed and skills are what is going to get him to the bigs. He is small though at that may hurt him at the NHL level.

As you can see, the Canucks have some talent on defence but with just Jovocop signed, some changes may be in order. Vancouver may be a team that intrigues free agent defenceman Scott Niedermayer. being unrestricted and free to go anywhere, and also being a BC native, it seems logical that both parties have an interest in eachother. The Canucks do have some room under the cap to use and really could use steady Scott to boost play in their own zone. His time in Jersey has made him into one of if not the best all around blueliner in the league. He could be a huge addition possibly giving the Canucks a big 3 on D with him, Jovo and Ohlund, or perhaps allow Vancouver to move some of their existing guys for help in other areas. It could also pave the way for Scott’s brother Rob Niedermayer to end up in Vancouver adding more forward depth. It is something the brothers have thought about, playing together and at the same time go home. Right now it is all rumours at this point but there is some sense to them. The Canucks either way need a steady defensive presence in their own zone to help clear the front of the net, preventing so many point blank chances and bring a calming influence to the team.

As you can see, the Canucks have a world of possibilities to explore. They may stay status quo, add a few pieces here and there and still be a solid competitive team and stick to the guys they have. or wholesale changes could be in store changing the face of the franchise and look to go into a different direction. Dave Nonis is the man who has the answers to this and the man who must address all the teams questions.

11 Responses to Changes Needed on West Coast

  1. dave1979 says:

    thank you SO much nordiques100 for such a huge, long and in depth article on the canucks. i have been on the computer most of the day and have had the team 1040 (vancouvers sports radio station) on all day long and i still enjoyed finally reading some current player speculation after this year long joke of a hockey drought. in brief: i hope we can keep naslund and bertuzzi though i have no idea what to expect in that situation. i believe jason king should get the opportunity to play on the big team next season, and i would LOVE to see either neidermeyer on our team ( or both lol) i really believe we need to get rid of cloutier but i dont really know who is out there to replace him in regards to free agent goalies. again thanks for the great article.



  2. WildWing89 says:

    IMO, the Canucks could be better off without Nazzy. Take his $6 million or so he’d get, add $2 million, and you could bring in a #1 goalie in Nikolai Khabibulin($4 million), a replacement for Nazzy in Paul Kariya($3 million), and his good friend Teemu Selanne($1 million), and they’re much more solid. Van-city lineup:




    Fourth Line(I’m not familiar with the Canucks depth players)



    Salo-6th dman(also not familiar with their defensive, so these pairings might be wrong, too)



    That’d be pretty sweet IMO. As for Naslund, he should head on to Anaheim. A Naslund-Fedorov-Lupul line would be incredible.

  3. frezz says:

    the way i see it the nucks are broke down as so

    12 mil on players already signed

    12 mil on naslund,sedins,morrison,ohlund… if thats whats they choose to do

    12mil on the rest… this most likely going to include kabibulan at 4mil or so and not cloutier..

    then u have to sign

    cooke,ruutu,chubarov,salo,sopel,allen and ur number on draft pick put all those together its gonna leave with u about 2.5-3 mil to sign guys like reid,king,smith which is more then enough those guys will prob take up just under 2 mill between the three of them perhaps less.


    lets say naslund signs in anaheim all of a sudden the nucks have 6mil to play around with… then bertuzzi decideds he wants a trade and the nucks say trade for some younger good players that are worth maybe 2 mil all of a sudden they have 9 million bucks to play around with… in this case i belive we see niedermayer come to van at probably 3 million bucks… which leaves the nucks 6 mil to sign a couple guys to play with morrison…. and also leave the nucks with prob the best defence in the league… assumeing the nucks got a top 5 draft pick other then 1st and say trade for a young player useing bertuzzi such as joffrey lupul this is what the team might look like next year if they lose bert and nazzy

    kariya morrison murray

    brule sedin sedin

    cooke kesler linden

    lupul reid king

    niederymayer allen

    ohlund sopel

    jovo salo


    bulin wall


    now if u ask me thats a very exciting team.

  4. NYRules says:

    now if you ask me thats some wishful thinking.

    And which murray is this?

    And why would jovo be 3rd pair?

    But yes this team is possible minus murray if that is glen murray, and it would still be a very good team that i would love to see.

  5. Kamakaze says:

    I also agree, this is really wishful thinking… First of all I don’t think they will trade Bert because his value is particularly low, and the way things are, teams don’t have a lot of money to spend anymore. However, I also don’t see them keeping both Bert AND Naslund… I think that could go either way, as I think they would sooner keep Naslund, but his price tag is high, and Bert has a bad rap now, but is still a good tough player that gives this team a lot more dimension.

    I’d look for them to trade or buy one of them out (unless by some miracle they can restructure their deals and keep both which would be great…). If they trade, they are NOT going to get that huge a return, I’d sooner say a draft pick and a 2nd or 3rd liner tops.

    I doubt they will sign Kariya or Murray. I would sooner say someone like Selanne would come on board, as they have a 2 good centers to set up plays, and I think the possibility of playing with the Sedin’s, Morrison, and Naslund or Bert would be a nice incentive. Also, Selanne would come cheaper, and they should be able to afford it.

    I think you might see them add a defencemen with some skates, but probably more of a depth guy than anything else.

    I do NOT get what all this about Niedermayer leaving Jersey is about. I mean are you guys kidding??? And at 3mil? You don’t think the Devils will give him 3mil? And why would he leave a club where he is the best defenceman with, whom I think they will build the future defense around (they already have with Hale and Martin), as well as the team who drafted him and won 3 cups with. They WILL give him the money, and I don’t think he wants out so bad that he will take less JUST to leave Jersey.

  6. frezz says:

    its not really wishfull thinking if they lose naslund and bert thats 10 mil right there and yes niedermayer would leave jersey because he is a bc native and yes the devils would give him 3mil but due to the fact he wants to play in van he would come at a much cheaper price for them then the devils… kariya would be cheap also and murray wouldnt be to much.

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN BERT HAS NO TRADE VALUE… ARE YOU KIDDING ME… once he is reinstated and yes he will be reinstated he has more trade value then any other players in the league.. give me a break buddy where have you been.

  7. Scruffy05 says:

    One scenerio that NOBODY is talking about is Forsberg coming to Vancouver. It is well known that Forsberg wants to play with his buddy Naslund. We already have Naslund other best friend Todd Bertuzzi, whose agent has denied the rumours of wanting to leave BC.

    Bertuzzi is scheduled to make 5.5 Million (approximatley… actually a little less). Naslund is one of the greatest snipers in the game and therefor should be making a full 7 million. However, he loves Vancouver and Vancouver loves him. If we could, we would pass a law absolving him of paying tax but anyway… To keep it all fair though I am 100% certain that if we asked him to take 5.5M like Bertuzzi he wouldn’t object. He has taken paycuts in the past to stay here. That is one of the reasons we like him so much, he isn’t a money player. People are saying we can’t sign them both. I don’t see where they are getting this from.

    Forsberg’s situation depends totally on how badly he wants to play with his buddy Markus. Forsberg, at least to me, seems like a bit of a money player. I personally believe he would take 5.5, but my gut tells me nothing short of the full 7 million. I realize this ties up 16.5 of a 39 mil cap. I don’t see this as out of line once you step bak and lok at what you have in that first line.

    There have also been many rumors swriling around Kariya and the two Neidermeyers wanting to come home. Kariya, after an abyssmal season won’t be signing for as much as he used to be worth. Anaheim paid 10 Mil for him, Colorado gave him what? 1.5 million? Well, at least they didn’t lose money on him. With this new wide open system though expect him to be KILLER. Also, withhow little he made and and poorly (to Paul Kariya standards) he did I would not pay him more than Morrison. (Not resign Morrison? You’ve got to be crazy. Everybody here loves the local boy. Linden is another guy who, if Nonis were to not resign him we would hang Nonis from the rafters. Linden is not allowed to leave, it was tears of joy when he returned. I believe if Kariya was willing we could get a second line of Morrison, Linden and Kariya for 7 million or so.

    We are at 23.5 for our top two lines.

    There are a lot of depth players in the system like Cooke (gotta love Cooke… great agitator) Reid, King and the Sedins (the jury is still out for me on them…let say to round out our 3rd and 4th lines it will cost 5-6 million. Do players in the minors count against the cap?

    That leaves us 10.5 for our defense and goalies. Rob Neidermeyer would play great with Cooke and we could probably talk him and his brother into a nice package deal say 4 mil for the two? With neidermeyer coming in, I hate to say it becaus eI love the guy, but Jovo may have to go. Many tems would LOVE Jovocop. He may even go back to Florida. Say Jovo for Bouwmeister and some picks? It’s a thought. The remaining defence (Ohlund, Sopel, Salo, Malik…. some minor leagurers) would be about 5, plus 1 for Bouwmeister. So Jovo and Neidermeyers cancel plus 6 for the remaining leaves 4.5 for goalies.

    I like Auld. I really like Auld. We could bring in a veteran to help him out or something along those lines. Maybe a 2 million dollar veteran, leaves us 2.5 million fudge room.

    A lot fo this is dependant on too many different factors though. First Forsberg and Nazzy have to take pay cuts in order to play with eachother. Who knows how much they want to do that. The neidermeyers are in the same boat. And kariya may ask for a lot of money, he still is a helluva player.

    Also, the goaltending is technically weak. We won’t get a great goalie for 2 million. We could probably sign Cloutier for that but… wait… yep there it is. All of Vancouver just groaned. I like Cloutier during the season…. playoffs are a different story. With the new pads and rules though who knows about the goalies anymore.

    Well, this is just a possible synopsis of what COULD happen. Does it have a snowbvalls chance in hell? I doubt Florida would really want to give up Bouwmeister. I am unsure on how much some of the sign-ees I mentioned are in it for the money. plus every other team out there will be harrassing Forsberg, Kariya and Neidermeyer. Who knows.

    Of course, EVERYTHING changes depending on who gets Sidney Crosby. I’m also excited about Brule… not because he’s on the Giants or anything… I’m in Kelowna so I am a Rocket’s fan… I just like how he plays.

    Anyways, there’s my two bits.

  8. frezz says:

    i could see everything you just said happening but instead of forsberg a better goalie in kabibulan i just dont see forsberg coming here.

  9. Scruffy05 says:

    Khabibulin isn’t leaving Tampa. He just won the cup with them. We would have a chance with Joseph (but not for 2 million) Burke (maybe) and Osgood (hahahaha….. whew… that’s a good one…) Cloutier may be our best bet…. oh hey, it DOES hurt to say that…. ow… owie…

  10. mojo19 says:

    Kariya, Murray, Khabiboulan, Niedermyer. Jeez, you Canuck fans think you’re going to sign everyone! Those guys are pretty much already Leafs anyway. 😉

  11. frezz says:

    well ur another idiot leaf fan arent you.. ne wayz i said they would get all those guy if they lost naslund and bertuzzi that doesnt seem to crazy to me… they have a better chance going to columbus then they do toronto though ill tell ut hat much idiot

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