Ehrhoff

 

I do not hide the fact that I am a fan of the Vancouver Canucks. I (attempt to) remove my bias when helping with player evaluations in fantasy hockey, and to this point I have done a great job of separating my personal bias with how I build my fantasy teams. In my five keeper leagues (I used to be in more, but five is the most I can manage without over-committing myself), I only own one Canuck – Roberto Luongo. I own Luongo in two of the five leagues. I tend to avoid drafting and trading for Vancouver players because I do not want to be clouded by optimism. This has both helped (Steve Bernier) and hurt (Christian Ehrhoff) me over the past few years, but it is a principle that I don’t anticipate myself changing.

 

I read Canuck-related “stuff” on a daily basis, and feel that my understanding of the team and its needs heading into this summer is very strong. I decided to complete a mock off-season for the Canucks, and if time permits I’ll get to a few other teams in the days leading up to July 1st.

 

The Canucks are in a great situation both in the near and long term. They had the league’s second best offense last season, they have a fantastic goalie signed to a great contract for the next 12 years (Roberto Luongo’s $5.3 million cap hit represents a $1.4 million decrease from his previous deal), and they have a slew of talented young forwards ready to take the next step. There are some glaring holes on the back end and on the bottom two lines up front, but with ample cap space they should emerge this summer as the team to beat in the West. Their two closest rivals in the West, Chicago and San Jose, both face difficult summers. Chicago’s team is about to be stripped of depth at all positions due to cap constraints, while San Jose has several key players that may not return.

 

Vancouver is sitting equally pretty in the once-strong Northwest Division as well. Calgary is aging and their roster contains numerous awful contracts for the next few years. They may have the worst prospects in the entire NHL, even counting Mikael Backlund. Minnesota is a team in transition right now, and is at least another year or two away from contention. Like Calgary, their prospect situation is very bleak. Edmonton should be improved this year, but there are still a lot of question marks there. Colorado presents the biggest challenge both next year and beyond with lots of young talent developing ahead of schedule.

 

The current roster:

Daniel Sedin $6.1 mill Henrik Sedin $6.1 mill Alex Burrows $2 mill
Mason Raymond RFA Ryan Kesler $5 mill Mikael Samuelsson $2.5 mill
Michael Grabner $800k Cody Hodgson $1.6 mill Steve Bernier $2 mill
Darcy Hordichuk $750k Rick Rypien $550k Jannik Hansen RFA






Christan Ehrhoff $3.1 mill Sami Salo $3.5 mill

Alex Edler $3.25 mill Kevin Bieksa $3.75 mill

Aaron Rome $750k Shane O'Brien RFA

Andrew Alberts $1 mill









Roberto Luongo $5.3 mill



Cory Schneider $900k









Total $48.95 mill



 

The Canucks have roughly $10 million in cap space to sign Raymond and Hansen if they stand pat right now (which they won’t). This figure also assumes that the cap does indeed rise to $58 million.

 

My ideas:


Kyle Wellwood has been a fantastic depth player for the Canucks over the past two seasons, but he will probably head elsewhere this summer in search of a bigger offensive role. With Sedin and Kesler tying down the top two spots, there isn’t much ice time left for Wellwood on the third line. Prized prospect Cody Hodgson is expected to make the jump in 2010-11 now that his back is fully healed, but don’t expect the Canucks to hand him a spot.

 

Both Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows played with significant shoulder injuries in the playoffs, so keep an eye on how the two perform at training camp and in the pre-season to see how far along they are in the recovery process.

 

I’d advocate moving Bieksa. The Canucks have a slew of two-way defensemen and need more of a focus at either the offensive end or the defensive end. Bieksa’s inconsistent play over the past few years has been extremely troubling, and he does more bad than good when healthy. He needs a fresh start. Bieksa could probably fetch a decent return, and for the sake of this mock I'll assume the Canucks receive a pick and/or a prospect back. Andrew Alberts was a disappointment and will be on the trade block this season. He is young and cheap and the Canucks should have no problem fetching a late round draft pick for him.

 

If healthy, expect Mitchell to return. It was reported yesterday that he is only now finally symptom free, but he still needs to undergo tests from Canuck doctors before Mike Gillis offers any sort of contract. Since he spent over 100 days last season on the IR, he is eligible for a one-year bonus-laden contract for 2010-11, which would be beneficial to both sides. It would provide Mitchell with the incentive to regain his form as one of the league’s best shutdown defensemen, and it would give the Canucks a strong top-four defenseman at (way) under market value.

 

1) Sign RFA Mason Raymond to a two-year, $6 million extension. Raymond would still be an RFA at the end of the 2011-12 season, so this deal would give the Canucks more leverage at that point in time. He broke out with 25 goals this past season, and $3 million per season for the next two would be fair compensation for that.

 

2) Trade Andrew Alberts to Carolina for a 2010 5th round draft pick. The Canucks originally acquired Alberts for a 3rd round draft pick from the Hurricanes at the deadline in March.

 

3) Sign Manny Malhotra to a three year, $3.9 million contract. Malhotra practiced with the Canucks unofficially last summer before eventually signing with San Jose right before the season began. He has ties to the area (he is married to Steve Nash’s sister), and would be a great two-way center for the Canucks, who iced a horrendous penalty kill during the 2009-10 postseason. Malhotra made $700,000 with the Sharks last season.

 

4) Sign Zbynek Michalek to a five-year, $22.5 million contract. Michalek is the best defenseman on the open market this summer (in my humble opinion). Hopefully for the Canucks, he enjoyed his Olympic experience in Vancouver! I’d wager that Ottawa are the frontrunners for him, as playing with his brother would probably be a significant pull factor. Michalek can skate, move the puck, but most importantly, he can log tough minutes against the opposition’s top players. The fact that he doesn’t even turn 28 until December adds to his value.

 

5) Extend Christian Ehrhoff. He is an unrestricted free agent after the 2010-11 season, and was far and away Vancouver’s best defenseman last season. The Canucks will have Sami Salo’s contract off the books next summer to help make room for any increase in Ehrhoff’s salary. How does four years and $16 million sound?

 

6) Trade Jannik Hansen’s rights and 2010 3rd round draft pick to Boston for Matt Hunwick and Vladimir Sobotka. This may take a bit more (in terms of pick quantity or value), but the Bruins would love to shed Hunwick’s salary, and Sobotka is buried at center behind Savard, Bergeron, and Krejci. Hansen is a very responsible two-way winger with some upside, and he’ll come cheap in terms of cap hit. Sign Sobotka (RFA) to a two-year, $2 million contract.

 

7) Trade Shane O’Brien for a draft pick. O’Brien has been a solid depth defenseman during his time in Vancouver, but is too much of an off-ice distraction for his role with the team.

 

My final roster:

 

Daniel Sedin $6.1 mill Henrik Sedin $6.1 mill Alex Burrows $2 mill
Mason Raymond $3 mill Ryan Kesler $5 mill Michael Grabner $800k
Cody Hodgson $1.6 mill Manny Malhotra $1.3 mill Mikael Samuelsson $2.5 mill
Rick Rypien $550k Vladimir Sobotka $1 mill Steve Bernier $2 mill
Darcy Hordichuk $750k









Christan Ehrhoff $3.1 mill Zbynek Michalek $4.5 mill

Willie Mitchell $2 mill Sami Salo $3.5 mill

Alex Edler $3.25 mill Matt Hunwick $1.45 mill

Aaron Rome
$750k










Roberto Luongo $5.3 mill



Cory Schneider $900k









Total $57.45 mill



 

This team is only really lacking a right-handed defenseman aside from Salo. The defence is strong in all areas of the game. The bottom six contains lots of skill and jam, and the top six is among the league’s best. This roster still leaves almost $2 million of room under the cap, and the Canucks could easily create more by shedding Steve Bernier for a cheaper winger on the fourth line.

 

Samuelsson and Burrows will switch places often with the Sedin twins. Samuelsson brings more of a shooter’s presence and opens up space down low for the twins, while Burrows is fantastic on the forecheck and gets the puck to Daniel and Henrik as often as he can. Both should be good for 20-30 goals, and obviously more time with Daniel and Henrik means a goal total closer to 30 than 20.

 

If you were Mike Gillis, how would you approach this summer?

 

 

 


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Comments (16)add comment

david said:

tripel
... Any chance of S Niedermeyer coming over for a one-year home town discounted swan song? Would love to see him in there for 5Mish or less...

Or how about Hamhuis -- how less likely does the Philly move make him to be sign-able as UFA? Failing that, what about Schneider to the Flyers for Coburn?

How about a Bieksa for Stafford trade? He could be a nice RW to fill the role that Bernier was supposed to fill...

nice writeup

June 21, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Craig, thanks for the heads up! I am no good w/ draft picks. Always mix them up.

I'd start Hodgson at wing until he proves he can play C. Often times it is easier for young centers to get acclimatized to speed of game at wing. Wilson last year w/ NSH, Kesler did it too a few years ago.

Hodgson is in a great situation - w/ Sedin and Kesler (and the others), he will have no pressure to produce. Anything more than 15 goals and 30-35 points would be gravy in my estimation.

Chad - Will do! Lots of Leaf requests so I'll get to it this week. Hopefully before Burke gets busy...

Rossi - thanks!
June 20, 2010
Votes: +0

Rossi said:

Dean Youngblood
... Angus, Did you forward this article to Mike Gillis?
June 20, 2010
Votes: +0

Chad said:

tryhard87
Suggestion for future mock offseasons Would love to see you do the Toronto Maple Leafs.
June 20, 2010
Votes: -1

Craig K said:

csk_17
... The 'Nucks don't have a 2010 3rd rounder, that's the one they traded for Alberts. Their also missing a second rounder (Bernier) and don't pick again after #25 until #115.

Great and very interesting breakdown otherwise. I really like the Malhotra idea. However, do you think Mgmt/AV would want to impact Hodgson's development by sticking him on the wing rather than his natural centre?

I realize he might not make the team and if he does, a good chunk of his early season TOI will be on the PP (similar to how Duchene's year went), but that's a lot to ask of the kid, especially considering the expectations on him and the way last year went (his unhappiness w/ the Canucks)?
June 20, 2010
Votes: +0

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
i think it is more likely that boston will shed ference in place of hunwick now that siedenberg is locked up. it won't be easy, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
June 20, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... http://prodtsn.tsn.ca/blogs/sc...?id=313341

Near the bottom. Five on Five shot differential per 60 minutes.
June 20, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... The Johnson numbers are at even strength. I'll try and find where I originally came across them. His heart and shot blocking masks his inability to play hockey.

As for Alberts, Carolina isn't the only place he could go. Lots of other teams could probably use a 5/6 like him.

And for the Bruins trade, Sobotka isn't necessarily cheap. He is an RFA coming off an 800k deal. Hansen is an RFA coming off a 550k deal. I'd say they have similar trade values, slight edge to Sobotka. A 3rd for Hunwick is fair value, especially considering Boston probably wants to shed Hunwick's salary so they can bring back Boychuk as their 6th defenseman.
June 20, 2010
Votes: +0

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
wow just noticed the hunwick and sobotka trade i can't see that ever happening, especially for someone like hansen. gillis would have to step up to the plate with a lot more than that, and sobotka is growing into his character role with the B's - plus he is cheap, which is what they need right now.
June 20, 2010
Votes: -1

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
canes don't want / need alberts back they are going with their kids on D, his spot is filled.
June 20, 2010
Votes: -1

Larry said:

Rollie1967
Ryan Johnson angus- those numbers you quote for Johnson- is that even strength? Because obviously as primarily a PK'er Johnson isnt there to produce shots on net- infact being one of if not thee best forward shotblockers it would be even less, as his focus is blocking and getting the puck out of the zone, rather than checking and taking the puck forward for a short handed opportunity.That being said- anything over $1mil is too much for a 4th line only PK'er who gets hurt frequently.
As for Wellwood, I dont think he will be back, but with Hodgsons health issues and the total lack of offense from the projected 4th line-having someone who can slide into a spot on the top 3 lines might be prudent. I like Hansons speed/hustle- but his hands suck. Rypien is good for 1 or 2 highlight goals- but its his fistst that got him to the NHL, Glass is an honest worker-something AV covets. Hordichuk is in AV's doghouse (along with Obrien) and if anyone would take him off the Nucks hands, I think they would have to listen. Same with Bernier, who has had plenty of chances to skate with top players and yet cant seem to produce regularily.Maybe hometown boy Andrew Ladd instead?

On D- Bieksa is a frustrating player to watch, his play has regressed,albeit in part due to 2 serious injuries,but the Canucks have alot of similar dmen- good (but not great offensively)and ok (but not great defensively). Ehrhoff and Mitchell were the best of the bunch-but a t this point Sutton over Mitchell would be a good upgrade- and if they could get Hamhuis over Bieksa would also be an upgrade. They have the cash to spend, and would only need a few guys with NHL experience at the the minimum salary to supplement their roster due to the inevitable injuries, as the farm system doesnt have alot of immediate help coming(once Hodgson,Grabner graduate)as Oberg/Schroeder/Sauve need a year in the minors most likely- Shirokov...is a wild card.
June 20, 2010
Votes: -1

angus said:

angus
... Kim Johnsson is probably done in the NHL.

Good ideas with a vet presence. I like what Malhotra brings, but another would be a good idea. Lots of options with the defense.

Gillis has the potential for a great off-season. The Canucks are one of the most attractive teams to play for - great goalie, great city, great foundation. He has lots of cap space. Some valuable young assets should he decide to go for a bigger type of move, etc.

Ryan Johnson is a warrior but I wouldn't bring him back for free. He is a liability in all situations. This past season he had the worst shots against/for differential in the entire league. Essentially when he was on the ice, the opposition had more shots against the Canucks than the Canucks had against the opposition to a degree greater than any other player. He is simply a miserable hockey player, which is too bad because he came into Vancouver after a strong season with the Blues.

I like Sobotka because he plays a fourth line role now, but he is also young and has some upside.

Ray Whitney would be solid but he is going to get overpaid. On the decline and his numbers were inflated with a ton of PP time with the 'Canes that he wouldn't see with the Canucks.

The Canucks "window" is probably the next 2-3 years. I see them peaking once Hodgson and Schroeder are ready for top six roles... it would free up Raymond/Grabner to be trade bait.
June 19, 2010
Votes: +0

Budde said:

rbudde
ps Like the role Madden had with the Hawks.
June 19, 2010
Votes: +0

Budde said:

rbudde
intangibles Jeff, this is one of the best engagements with the Canucks roster I have ever read. Bravo!

The one area that you didn't address, and it's an area that I think is crucial to the future success of the team, is leadership. I think most of the parts are there but when they stumbled against the Hawks, there was no one to stand up in the locker room or do something on the ice that would take the team to the next level of intensity. Someone like a Recchi or Whitney or, erm, Arnott who are steady, experienced veterans would solidify the team and add that playoff leadership they lack.
June 19, 2010
Votes: +0

Canuckk said:

Canuckk
... Not sure about that Boston trade... Humwick and Sobotka would cost more then just Hansen and a 3rd to me. And I'm not sure I see the need for the Canucks to get him either. He goes from being buried in Boston to being slightly less buried in Vancouver - behind H. Sedin, Kesler and Hodgson (and potentially Malholtra). He doesn't really play on the wing and would have difficulty securing any kind of offensive role with the team. I agree that Boston will trade him, but he needs to go somewhere where he has a chance to get real ice time to get maximum return on him - and I don't see that place as being Vancouver. Perhaps Atlanta or Columbus would be better destinations.

Overall solid proposal though. Hansen seems to be permanently and unjustifiably stuck in Vigneault's doghouse, and so doesn't seem to have much of a future with the Canucks. He does have value and potential and so trading him is a good idea I think. Those contract proposals are reasonable and a conservative estimate could put them at even less - I could see Michalek signing for under $4 million and Raymond for $2.5-2.8 million.

I'm unsure that Mitchell will be with the Canucks this fall though. He's still not 100% and will have a tough time adjusting to playing his same style of hockey again. It's impressive if he manages to play another NHL game in his career at this point! I personally think he'll get his career back on track again, but I don't think he'll be signing with the Canucks before July 1st. Perhaps he'll pull a Sundin (with a legitimate excuse) and sign later in the year. In fact, if I had to guess, that's what I think he'll do.

I like Michalek but I don't think he'll be coming to Vancouver - I'm sure he's very attracted by the chance to go play in Ottawa with his brother. If we get him, great - but if we don't, which is quite likely, we need to look at other options. I think Kim Johnsson, Mark Eaton and Andy Sutton are decent, under-the-radar options to consider. They will likely all sign for fairly cheap and can play solid defensive hockey, which is what the Canucks are currently lacking on the back end. Sutton especially brings some more grit to the lineup (while also actually being able to play, unlike the last guy the Canucks traded for). I may not be an expert, but I think any of these guys would add some stability to the Canucks D-core for a cheaper price then Michalek and would be more readily signable (less of a bidding war required).

I think the Canucks should also consider bringing Johnson back, provided he is willing to take a pay cut (under $1 million for sure). A contract in the $0.7-0.8 million would be reasonable. Johnson, despite having a bit of an off-year in 2009-10, is still serviceable and can bolster any PK with his fearless shot-blocking and solid faceoff abilities.

There are a lot of options to consider here, and I think Gillis will have plenty of opportunity to turn this team into an even bigger contender for 2010-11 if he plays his cards right. The next 2-3 years is the prime time for the Canucks to go all-in and make a push for the Cup.
June 19, 2010
Votes: +0

praba said:

praba
... it's hard to predict fair trades when it is involving your team, but i didn't see one trade that seemed lopsided in favour of the canucks. good job angus! perhaps i should write an article for the leafs...but somehow i know i'd predict the leafs land kovalchuk and trade kaberle for richards...yea, i'll just stick to dreaming!
June 19, 2010
Votes: +0
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