Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Brendan Morrison: 1 year at $3.55 million. What�s next on the menu?

If there is one mad skill that Canucks GM Dave Nonis possesses, it would be the fact that he has a very good track record of negotiating contracts with his own players.

In addition to signing Cloutier, Nonis managed to finalize a 1-year deal with Brendan Morrison for $3.55 million, as reported here. This represents a nice $1mil raise for Morrison, one of the few Canucks that shows the total package of skill, grit, and resiliency under pressure.

In my earlier entry regarding Morrison�s arbitration prospects, I predicted a similar windfall for the local Centerman.

Morrison is 29 years old, and one of the few core Canucks that is not under a long-term deal. I expect he will get something similar to that of Shane Doan, a 28 year-old player that has put up slightly inferior offensive numbers, but adds a more physical dimension to his game.

Doan made $2.8mil last season, and he is slated to make $3.45 million next season. Morrison, who had around $2.5mil last season, should get an award that will fall into the range of $3.25-$3.5mil next season.

So, falling in line with the market (looking at the numbers), Morrison�s deal isn�t a bad one for either side, and now the Canucks totally avoid the nasty arbitration process entirely.

With those 2 deals out of the way, maybe baby bear Nonis will awaken from his slumber and get some free agent help. The Canucks wish-list isn�t large, but the Canucks do have holes to fill if they want to enhance their championship chances. (And since Cloutier is #1 again, we won�t worry about that situation, as much as they need to).

#1 � Physical Offensive Winger
Apart from the psychotic enigma known as Todd Bertuzzi, the Canucks offensive forwards are soft, small, or poor in front of the net. In past years, the Canucks have put guys like Trent Klatt, Matt Cooke, and Jason King with the Sedins, with decent results.

Still, �decent� doesn�t cut the cake, and the Canucks could use a bonafide 2nd line winger that combines offensive ability with physical acumen, especially in front of the net.

Given the Canucks are tightwads with a moderate payroll, a player like Scott Mellanby, who recently signed a contract with the Atlanta Thrashees, would have been perfect for the Canucks.

Who else is there? There isn�t a lot that�s left�

Honestly, the market doesn�t look good for physical wingers with skill. Nonis already missed the boat on Mellanby, and two of the three above aren�t the most realistic possibilities for the Canucks� salary structure.

#2 � Top 4 Defensive Stopper/Defensive Depth
The Canucks started last season with a good 7-pack of d-men after signing my favourite defenseman Jiri Slegr. Unfortunately, Mark Crawford didn�t trust Slegr (why? Because Crawford is a doofus sometimes), and they gave him to Boston. After he was dealt, the Canucks suffered some untimely injuries and were forced to play class clown Marc Bergevin during the playoffs.

The Canucks have great skill and offensive ability on the back end, but their lack of a defensive masher was obvious come crunch time. Sopel is in over his head, Jovocop has more crashes than Windows 98, and gives the puck away 3 times a night, while the other defensemen, except hairy Marek Malik, are all a bit too finesse and soft as a whole.

Fortunately, there are more possibilities here than at forward. If the Canucks are to make a signing, I would expect one of these 4 defensemen to don a Canucks uniform next season.


Unless the Canucks are willing to pay some big bucks for a guy like Dan McGillis, or get lucky enough to sign Jon Klemm, I�d expect the Canucks to sign a physical defenseman that will only enhance the lower-tier depth, rather than upgrade the top 4. Good depth is necessary, but quality is hard to find without paying for it, even in today�s market.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?