I will start off my summary for the first day of Free Agency with a cliche. The best signing Wednesday by Gillis was the one that wasn’t signed.
Of course, finally settling the Sedins with a 5-year US$6.1-million contract is excellent news for the Canucks, but perhaps the decision to not sign Gaborik or Havlat were better moves. Embracing technology provided me with realtime news of most of the signing, as I followed Twitter via iPhone most of the day. A big thanks to Darren Dregger, Richard Loat and Eklund for their updates.
It is because I was able to follow the events unfold closely that I realize the Canucks were pretty much only involved in Gaborik and Havlat ever since they announced the signing of the Twins. If my estimation is correct, including a US$1.5-million increase to Luongo’s upcoming extension announcement, and Sedins’ combined US$12.2-million contract, the Canucks roughly have US$8-million to spare. With Ohlund signed in Tampa, the Canucks will need to sign a work-horse defenseman for the team to come out similiar to where they were in the beginning of last season.
This is why Gillis doesn’t have a lot of room to sign Gaborik, who everyone knew will be asking for a huge contract. US$7.5-million for FIVE years for a player who’d played so few games and coming off such a serious surgery, the best approach is to walk away. I think the Rangers are making another huge mistake here. Just when you think they got rid of Gomez’s crazy contract, they go and sign another even more ridiculous one.
As for a 30-goal right-winger in Havlat, US$5-million should be something Gillis is willing to accept, and I think that Havlat would’ve preferred playing for Canucks instead of the Wild. But for him to finally sign with the Wild is probably due to the length of the contract. A 6 year deal would put him over the Sedins in terms of the length of the contract, and I don’t think the organization is willing to risk it at this point in time.
This being said, this is still only the first day of free agency, and I think by reserving their spending power, the Canucks still have a lot options. Of those, Gillis’ first target is most likely to sign or trade for a top-six defenseman. Eklund mentioned that a Kaberle deal is close to being done, I personally don’t like that very much, because after the Phil Kessel failed-trade, Brian Burke will be looking for assets of similar value going back the other way, and I don’t think the Canucks should rid themselves on any more talents.
To sum up, I don’t think the Canucks are than much worse than they were before July 1st. There is, of course, still many holes to fill, but as many teams are loading up via Free Agents, and the cap not going up, somewhere some salaries must be off-loaded. By then, the Canucks might be able to grab better players at sensible prices. If not, there’s always RFA offer-sheets and promotion (ie. Grabner or Hodgson) within the organization.