Here we are, December 10th. Four months have elapsed since the first deadline of August 1st set by the Sundin camp, and we still await his decision. According to a tremendous number of media outlets, as well as Eklund himself, it appears as if the time has truly come upon us where Sundin will finally make his decision and join a team. I understand I could go many different ways with this blog , such as critiquing Sundin for not being on a team all season long, however, I will simply focus on why I believe Sundin would benefit the Vancouver Canucks the most. First, however, I will explain why it does not make any sense for the second and third biggest suitors, the Canadiens and Rangers respectively, to pursue Sundin.
The Montreal Canadiens currently sit at fourth in the Eastern Conference, five points outside of first. They are playing fairly solid hockey as of late, and both Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak are contributing as a solid goaltending tandem. To focus in more, let us take a look at the centers they have on their roster: Saku Koivu, Robert Lang, Christopher Higgins, Tomas Plekanec, Maxim Lapierre, and Kyle Chipchura. Between Plekanec, Koivu, and Higgins, they have a nice trio that can all play as center on the top two lines. Granted, Higgins is a better second liner, he still occupies a position on one of the top two lines. For now, Higgins has been pushed out to the wing, while Plekanec and Koivu maintain the top two center positions. Robert Lang, the recent acquisition, is a third-line center who is occupying $4 million in salary. I understand Lang was the Sundin back up plan at the end of the summer, however, that move may be coming back to haunt the Canadiens. He has been very solid for them this season, but his salary is terribly expensive overall. The big question in Montreal is, who leaves in order to make room for Sundin? I understand Sundin could do great things in Montreal, however, where does the cap space come from in order to sign him, and who has to be moved? Trading away Higgins ($1.7 million) does not provide enough cap space, moving Koivu ($4.75 million) could quite possibly free up the necessary cap space, however, it would not be reasonable in my opinion. Lastly, moving a young and developing talent like Plekanec ($1.6 million) would harm Montreal in the future, and he would not clear up enough cap space. The only way they would be able to land Sundin is to move a large chunk of salary in one player, or package a few players together, which could mean the departures of Roman Hamrlik ($5.5 million) as well as Christopher Higgins. For five months of Sundin, it just is not worth it to me. Hamrlik plays a large part on the second defensive pairing, and Higgins is a player that could develop in the Montreal system. The Canadiens should leave their roster as is, as I do feel they have a team that can compete with anyone in the league. The only addition that I would look into if I were Bob Gainey would be another solid 3-4 defenseman to play alongside of Hamrlik. By not moving players for the sake of one player, they will be better off this season, and in the long run.
New York Rangers:
The New York Rangers currently sit atop the Atlantic Division, and in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers are loaded with a tremendous wealth of talent up the middle as well, with names such as Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, and Brandon Dubinsky. The Rangers are currently right up against the cap, thanks in large part to overpriced contracts that belong to Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival. The Rangers could get lucky and find takers for Reddens salary, which would then open up the cap room for Sundin, but not many would take the next five years at $6.5 million a season for an extremely under achieving Wade Redden. The other option, and one that is the most prominently mentioned, is trading Scott Gomez. The big question I raise is why would the Rangers do that? Sundin is looking for a one year deal, according to many outlets. The Rangers, in my opinion, will not win the cup this years with Sundin in the line up. Do I think they are a good team? Yes, I think the Rangers play great hockey, however, I feel they are still a few players away from the Cup. Granted, Sundin could bring a boost to the line-up, but it has to come at the expense of another player. If Sundin were to enter the line-up, and Gomez were to exit, I feel as if the Rangers maintain status quo, and they would lose out on the next five years of having Gomez as their number one guy. Sundin, once again, is just not worth acquiring in New York. The Rangers instead should focus on bringing in a solid defenseman who can be put on the top-pairing. It would be too costly in the long run to bring in Sundin.
Lastly, here is why I feel the Canucks should acquire Sundin.
The Canucks currently sit third in the Western Conference, and are playing better hockey than many predicted they would this season. They have a great first line, featuring names such as the Sedin twins and Demitra; however, they do lack some second line firepower. Although Wellwood is producing, I am sure anyone in their right mind would much rather have Sundin than Wellwood. Secondly, they have Roberto Luongo, who is hands down the best goalie in the league at this point. When Luongo returns from injury, he will be a tremendously needed boost for the Canucks. With a goaltender of Luongos quality in net, the Canucks can count on solid goaltending almost every game that allows less than three goals in per game. Now, as to why they should bring in Sundin, and why it makes sense. First, and foremost, they have the cap space! At the present time, the Canucks have about $8 million in available space to bring in a player of their choice. The current offer on the table for Sundin is a two year deal, worth $10 million per season, with this first season obviously being prorated. If Sundin were to accept this offer and join the roster, nobody from the current Canucks roster would need to be moved in order to make financial room this season. Whereas with the Rangers, Gomez would need to be moved, or with the Canadiens where one of their better players (Hamrlik) would need to be moved, Sundin enters a roster that will remain completely the same. Secondly, the addition of Sundin to the roster makes sense for both parties involved. For the Canucks, Sundin would provide another potent offensive threat that isnt on the first line. (I do believe that the Sedin’s will stay together on the first line and that Demitra might play alongside of Sundin on the second line). With names such as the Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Demitra, Sundin, and Wellwood, the Canucks should be more than capable of putting at least three goals into the net each and every game. (Just as Luongo should be able to keep about three or less goals from going into his net every game, get the point?). Combine this good offense with a solid defense that features names such as Bieska, Ohlund, and Sami Salo, and you have a pretty well balanced team in all facets of the game. For Sundin, the Canucks provide him with a chance where he can step in to a good team and make them a great team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He brings experience, leadership, skill, goal scoring, and playmaking to a team that could use more of all of these traits to be considered a threat. Even if Sundin were to only sign on for one year at the prorated $10 million, it still makes sense for the Canucks. They dont lose anyone that is a fixture in their future, and it is worth the shot to go for it all once they make the playoffs.
These are the main reasons why I feel that Sundin would be a better fit in Vancouver than in Montreal or New York. If you have any questions of comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or shoot me an email. Take care!