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Northwest Check - Vancouver Canucks Off-Season Review

I'm still sick so for the second day in a row I'm going to save you all from listening to me ramble and make stuff up to fill as much space as possible before the jump and make the picture look really awkward. The Avalanche play their first game today and first home game tomorrow so reading about what the Canucks did in the off-season is going to be low on the radar for most everybody who isn't reading this right now in a desperate attempt to avoid work.

Follow the jump for details on a whole bunch of re-signings and AHL guys.

Uhh...spoiler alert ^

Vancouver Canucks

Players Acquired:

D Kevin Bieksa - 5 years, $23 million, $4.6M AAV: The big decision the Canucks had to make was who of their D they were keeping. Their solution? Everybody but Christian Ehrhoff, apparently. After seeing the silly money he was demanding, turns out the Canucks might've known a thing or two and gave the big contract to the right guy. Bieksa is a little bit older and not as offensively talented as Ehrhoff but is the leader of the defense and should help continue mentoring the young guys like Alex Edler and Chris Tanev.

D Sami Salo - 1 year, $2 million, $2M AAV: This season could very well mark the final campaign for long-time warrior Sami Salo. He's fought through some gruesome injuries in recent years (right, UZ?) but if he can have a healthy campaign this year he should bring the same toughness and stability he's always provided his teams. I hope he's healthy because he's always a guy I can enjoy rooting for as long as he isn't wearing a Detroit sweater.

D Andrew Alberts - 2 years, $2.5 million, $1.25M AAV: The two year deal would seem to represent a level of confidence that Alberts will remain productive and healthy for the next couple seasons as the logjam at defense is still significant for the Canucks. He's going to battling with 7 other guys with NHL experience to see who earns the right not to sit in a suit every night. For my money, Alberts would be 8th on that list so hopefully the Canucks disagree and we get to see how much smarter I am than their coaching staff (hawhawhaw).

F Andrew Ebbett - 1 year, $525K, $525K AAV: Ebbett somehow landed himself a one-way contract on a team with four centers already and perennial top prospect Cody Hodgson (looking more and more like a product of Duchene ;p) waiting in the wings for what must be the fifth straight season. Good on Ebbett, though I'm not sure what Vancouver honestly sees in him. They've built a seriously deep roster with plenty of quality call-ups. At least he's super cheap, I guess.

F Chris Higgins - 2 years, $3.8 million, $1.9M AAV: A deadline pickup for the Canucks last year, Higgins came in and immediately joined so many of his teammates in the infirmary. Once he finally returned, Higgins was able to shake off the rust and have a pretty productive postseason as he notched 4g/4a/8p in 25 gp. A fourth-liner with extensive injuries and four seasons removed from his career year with Montreal, Higgins has to be stoked his agent was able to get him a deal for nearly $2 million per season. I guess in an off-season in which the Capitals gave Joel Ward $3 million a year anything seemed reasonable, right Columbus?

F Marco Sturm - 1 year, $2.25 million, $2.25M AAV: One of the best Germans of the era, Sturm is nearing the end of his solid career as he hits his mid-30's and his skills being to erode and his body betrays him. Sturm is a guy who produced very little in the few games he appeared in last season but if he's healthy he'll be a very good third-line scoring option for the Canucks. With an already stacked Top 6, the presence of a guy like Sturm on the third line can present some nasty mismatches if they so please.

F Maxim Lapierre - 2 years, $2 million, $1M AAV: Screw this guy.

F Mark Mancari - 1 year, $525K, $525K AAV: A very good AHL player who hasn't been given much of an opportunity in the NHL, Mancari is going to try to carve out a slot on the Canucks fourth line this year and prove he belongs in the NHL permanently. Uhh...don't count on it.

D Alexander Sulzer - 1 year, $700K, $700K AAV: I'll be honest. These next three guys...I just don't know anything about. Based on doing some research on them, I'm going to assume they were signed to make their AHL team (I should probably look up who that is...) better. Sulzer had a couple of nice years in Milwaukee back in 07-08 but essentially nothing since then. He's playing at a loaded position for the Canucks so he's definitely AHL roster material.

RW Mike Duco - 1 year, $550K, $550K AAV: Still just 24, Duco had a pretty productive season in the AHL last year and could conceivably make another jump this year, I guess. It's possible he just becomes another in the very long line of solid AHL players who just weren't quite good enough for the NHL but made a nice career in the minors. If he's looking for a shot with an NHL team, he needs to sign with a team who isn't busy making runs at the Cup every year.

RW Byron Bitz - 1 year, $700K, $700K AAV: Not a lot of information on this guy. He apparently didn't play hockey anywhere last season due to a sports hernia (owwwww). The Panthers, in their quest to reach the cap floor by acquiring as much middle-of-the-road talent as possible, failed to qualify an offer to Bitz and a month into the free agency period he signed with the Canucks (I'd cite my source for essentially stealing that but it was Wikipedia so chances are only 50% it's even true). Uhhh...good luck, Byron! I like your carnie name :D

RW Jannik Hansen - 3 years, $4.05 million, $1.35M AAV: Hansen is an up-and-comer in the Canucks organization at 25 years of age and playing important minutes for the team. A real pain in the ass on the ice, he's going to soak up as much dickishness as he can from Maxim Lapierre before the Canucks realize having two on the roster is how you get the entire country of Canada to root for an American team in the Stanley Cup Finals. He should have a long, pesky career ahead of him and when the Avs move to the Pacific division, I'm going to be like omg excited to not have to play this dude 6 times a season anymore.

RW Victor Oreskovich - 1 year, $605K, $605K AAV: It's depressing when I go to his capgeek page for contract details and it shows his first ever contract with the notation "Contract terminated". Enjoy the AHL, Victor >:[


Players Lost:

Off-Season Departures
D Christian Ehrhoff (rights traded to NY Islanders, signed by Buffalo)
LW Raffi Torres (unrestricted free agent, signed by Phoenix)
RW Guillaume Desbiens (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary)
LW Tanner Glass (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg)
LW Jeff Tambellini (unrestricted free agent, signed by Swiss club ZSC Lions)
C Alex Bolduc (unrestricted free agent, signed by Phoenix)


When you lose in Game 7 of the SCF, chances are you don't need to do too much to your roster to improve your odds at making a run the next season. The Canucks chose to quietly re-sign the majority of their key pieces and only let a couple of spare parts leave, save Ehrhoff's departure that's going to hurt their power play but don't tell Canucks fans that, and hope the Sedins remember how to skate and Luongo stops worrying about tires in during the postseason. In the worst division in hockey, the Canucks should again have an ezpz lemon squeezey good time blasting through the division and taking home the title and securing a cozy home-ice advantage during the playoffs.