The salary cap is leveling the playing field

So Canucks fan, admit it.

You heard me…admit that when you heard that Mats Sundin had signed with the Canucks a little part of you felt like yelling “In your face New York!” Poor Larry Brooks of the New York Post had Vancouver pegged for dead.

Thus, with the NHL holiday roster freeze going into effect Friday night at midnight and lasting through midnight Dec. 27, Sundin – who has a $10M offer on the table from the Canucks that he obviously is in no hurry to accept – is likely to remain unsigned until late in the month.

So did I. I get and respect that Sundin took his time deciding if he wanted to play this year. But once he decided and the longer this went on, I figured the Canucks were being kept around as insurance and as a bargaining tool.

In a pre salary cap era, the Vancouver Canucks would have had no chance of gettting Mats Sundin, because the the New York Rangers, or other teams would out bid everyone. Not knowing what really happened behind the scenes, it appeared on the surface that Sundin’s first choice was to sign with New York. It would also appear that the Rangers couldn’t clear enough cap space to make this happen, thus making the choice of the Canucks too good to pass up.

It’s kind of ironic that the Canucks honoured Trevor Linden the night before the announcement, who’s involvement with the current salary cap deal was monumental. Perhaps in an unintentional way it was Linden’s gift to the fans.

At this point Sundin is a rental player. There is no guarantee he signs for another season, and the Canucks won’t be on the hook for another year if either party wants to go in a different direction.

The signing has given the Canucks two lines that can score overnight. If the defense can get and stay healthy, and Luongo recovers and gets on a roll, this team could be a force to be reckoned in the west. With the cap room Gillis enjoyed now gone, and further tweaks to the roster will have to be through trades.

For years the Canucks were always the wiling partner who just couldn’t shell out that extra to lure free agents. Fans sat by and watched as the Colorado’s, Detroit’s and New York’s of the world loaded up already stacked rosters. Now the salary cap has leveled that playing field, and that’s a great thing for the league, and on Wednesday it was a great thing for Canucks fans.

Just ask the New York Rangers.

No Sundin wouldn’t be the end of the world

Mats Sundin will decide before Christmas who he'll play with.

Canuck Nation is getting all riled up again with talk the Canucks may be one of the final two teams in the Mats Sundin sweepstakes, along with the New York Rangers (Yes, them again). Most insiders say that given his choice, Sundin would likely choose the Rangers, but for that to occur the Rangers need to make room under the cap.

So is Sundin serious about the Canucks, or is it because the club never wavered in their offer since July 1st, that Sundin is just keeping them around as the fallback team? If the Rangers can make it work he’ll go there, and if he can’t he has the Canucks to sign with.

Of course there is the possibility the Canucks could be the team that picks up what the Rangers have to shed to add Sundin, but with names being thrown about like defensemen Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival and forwards Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, one would have to think only Gomez might peak the Canucks interest.

If and when it becomes apparent to general manager Mike Gillis that Sundin won’t be coming here, he has left himself with a hell of a wild card to hold for the second half of the season. Gillis will be the best positioned of pretty much any of his counterparts come trading time, simply because he has salary cap room to burn. There will likely be teams that find themselves out of the playoffs, who will be looking to blow things up and rebuild. This should mean that some players that could help the Canucks will be available.

Gillis should really be commended for the position he has the Canucks in here. Mats Sundin would make them a much better hockey team, there is no doubt. But he’s made sure that if he doesn’t choose the Canucks it won’t be the end of the world. His team is leading it’s division, with the toughest part of it’s schedule behind them. He has the means to be involved in any trade activity that may pop up.

Of course he still has to make those deals, and he’ll be judged on that, but you have to like the position he has himself in, whether he gets Sundin or not.