Philip Yo: Kesler Solidifies The Core, The Time Is Now To Win

Philip Yo, CanucksCorner.com

There were some anxious fans worrying about what would happen with Ryan Kesler this summer. The gritty centre has been a huge part of the Canucks team over the last two seasons and was approaching restricted free agency this summer. There is no doubt that Kesler would be the recipient of numerous offer sheets. But worry not, Friday morning Mike Gillis made the surprise announcement that Ryan Kesler was re-signed for a 6 year term worth $30 million. The deal would give Kesler a $5 million cap hit over the duration of the contract.

Ryan KeslerRyan Kesler: Photo by csztova, on Flickr

The announcement was all the more surprising given the news reports that had surfaced throughout the season regarding the negotiations. However, it took just 24 hours for Kesler’s agent and the Vancouver Canucks to finally come to terms on the new deal. This contract means that Kesler will have the second longest active contract on the Canucks after Roberto Luongo’s 12 years. The Sedin’s will still have 5 years remaining on their contracts after this season.

The core players for the Vancouver Canucks over the foreseeable future will consist of the following:

Roberto Luongo, 12 years @ 5.33 million
Daniel Sedin, 5 years @ 6.1 million per
Henrik Sedin, 5 years @ 6.1 million per
Ryan Kesler, 6 years @ $5 million per
Alex Edler, 3 years @ $3.25 million per
Alex Burrows, 3 years @ 2 million per
Mikael Samuelsson, 2 years @ $2.5 million per

*2010-2011 Total Cap Hit:* $30.28 million

If the Canucks plan on winning a Stanley Cup soon, these will be the players who will make it happen. With a little over half of the expected salary cap locked up in these players, a lot of attention will turn to the upcoming prospects to help fill the holes and save cap space. Unfortunately, it looks like Mason Raymond could be a casualty of the cap after his breakout year. However, because this is just his first year of success, he may be willing to settle for a slightly lower cap hit.

Michael Grabner has been a name that has been bounced about in the Vancouver media for several years now. He showed early this season that he may have what it takes to survive in the NHL, but he’ll need to show that he can consistently deliver. With Samuelsson out, these next few weeks could be very telling for what lies in store for the Canucks next season. If Grabner continues his strong play from before his injury, the Canucks may go with Grabner next season. If he doesn’t, then they will most likely do their best to re-sign Raymond.

And then there is Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder. Hodgson is coming off a serious back injury and has missed most of this season due to that. With a loss of almost an entire year of development it may be wise to have Cody spend a year in Manitoba. The same will likely happen with Schroeder who recently decided to go pro and end his NCAA career.

Whatever the case may be, the Canucks arguably have their strongest top six forward core in history. They also have their best goaltender in history holding down the fort in net. If the Canucks are to finally win a cup, these players are as good as any to make that happen.

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Calm, Cool & Collected – Gillis leads by example

As training camp gets set to open officially tomorrow morning at UBC when players report for their physicals, we’re starting another year of Canucks hockey here at Canucks Corner. 13 years have gone by and we’re still kicking, entering our14th year of Canucks hockey on the internet. I’m pretty excited about the coming year not only for the site, but the team on the ice. There is a real buzz in Vancouver, and it’s a little different than it has been in the past.

Fans are starting to buy into the Canucks regime that is lead by the calm cool and patient Mike Gillis. With a summer full of big hurdles to overcome, Gillis handled them all with the quiet confidence that has become his trademark as the leader of the organization. Signing the Sedin’s and getting Roberto Luongo signed long term were no easy tasks for any GM to face going into the off-season. Then he goes out and dips into the thre free agent market adding Andrew Raycroft for depth in goal, Mikael Samuelsson up front and adding Mathieu Schneider, Christian Erhoff and Brad Lukowich to an already deep blue line corp.

He has youngsters Sergei Shirokov, Michael Grabner and of course Cody Hodgson among others vying to crack the roster, and a young blue chip goaltender in Cory Schneider to use anyway he sees fit and then there is the continued maturation of players like Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows.

And if that weren’t enough Gillis is about to extend the contract of coach Alain Vigneault to add even more stability to the club.Vigneault has his fans and his detractors but he and Gillis seem to be on the same page when it comes to building this hockey club, and that’s half the battle.

Yes, heading into camp the Canucks and their fans have a lot of reasons to be excited about. But that’s not to say there still isn’t work to be done. The Canucks will need to whittle their salary structure down by October 1st to get under the salar cap, something Gillis says will be done through competition at camp. Gillis feels this camp is different than the last due to the fact he was new last year and no one knew what to expect from him. Now with his retooling and stabilizing project nearing completion, all players should be entering camp ready to be at the top of their game, or they may not make the team.

With the Northwest division taking a drop off in quality according to many, the Canucks should be in a position to contend for the division and perhaps even the conference. So sit back and get ready for another wild ride. Just try and take it day by day…like our calm cool and collected GM.

Quick Hits:

  • This from Hosea Cheung on Twitter: (@hosea24hours) The Canucks have cut Matthew Ford, Mitch McColm, Bobby Nadeau, and Joe Plekaitis, James Reid, Justin Taylor, and Michael Ward following prospects camp. prior to the start of the main camp.
  • TSN says no Sundin is not negotiating, Sportsnet claims he’ and the Canucks are talking. Here we go again? God I hope not. Either Mats shows up for his physical tomorrow or move on.
  • As I said in the intro I am really excited about the direction this site could be heading this year and the things we have in store working with the Canucks on the Fan Zone at Canucks.com. We have a great group of creative people who are really going to try and do some cool things this season. You’ll have to stay tuned for more, but safe to say if you follow these folks on Twitter you’ll never be out of the loop: @CanucksHockey @mozy19, @Hgiraffe, @vancanucks, @miss604
    @canucksoutsider
    , @johnbollwitt, @crazycanucks and of course follow us at @CanucksCorner.