Gambling with Humans: Parts II, III, IV and V

Because she is still hot(Programming Note: On July 1st, we'll cover everything for you. I'd hate for you to think there's no cynical, honest outlet for everything Vancouver does or doesn't do. )

Before the silly season truly gets off and running, we have to finish our human gambling experiment. Last year this was far more calculated since Nonis made big (beautiful) splashes precisely twice in his GM tenure: getting Luongo for nothing and firing Crawford. This year Gillis could do literally anything.

On one hand, next week is Christmas squared, a day when the CDC board will implode under the weight of every ounce of speculation, be it relevant or inane.

But, and maybe this is just me, it's also nerve-wracking because Gillis has to get this right (this is why Nonis is gone, no?). One heavy ill-placed contract (re: Hossa) could saddle this team with a McCabe-like problem for years. And this year is Luongo's third of four so we're at a tipping point, one where if it's another poor year based on the team Gillis creates, then Luongo, his contract and his desires to play on good team will be, to put it mildly, a distraction.

This is the world Gillis lives in, so let's assume he needs at least three top 9 guys and one defenseman. Maybe creating a 1/2 punch of a rebuilt first line and the Sedins on the second or vice versa. How should that play itself out? The gruesome details follow:

Centers
Joe Sakic - $6,750,000 It's Avs or bust
Sergei Fedorov - $6,080,000
Mats Sundin - $5,500,000
Peter Forsberg - $5,000,000
Bobby Holik - $4,250,000 - Big pivot rumored to be on Gillis's shortlist. But a paycut is required.
Alexei Zhamnov - $4,100,000
Doug Weight - $3,500,000
Martin Straka - $3,300,000
Brendan Morrison - $3,200,000 - Paycut is needed to return
Daymond Langkow - $2,442,000
Steve Rucchin - $2,400,000 Retirement is looming
Bryan Smolinski - $2,000,000
Sean Avery - $1,900,000 He and Vigneault co-existing? Right.
Vaclav Prospal - $1,900,000
Jason Williams - $1,600,000 - Could be worth the gamble?
Yanic Perreault - $1,500,000
Chris Gratton - $1,500,000
Mike Peca - $1,300,000
Mike York - $1,000,000
Marty Reasoner - $950,000
Stu Barnes - $900,000
Niko Kapanen - $900,000
Ryan Johnson - $800,000
Josef Vasicek - $750,000
Dominic Moore - $700,000
Curtis Brown - $700,000
Byron Ritchie - $675,000
Kevyn Adams - $650,000
Randy Robitaille -$625,000
Jaroslav Hlinka - $600,000
Patrick Rissmiller - $595,000
Kris Beech - $585,000
Mark Hartigan - $550,000
Jason Krog - $500,000
Glen Metropolit - $500,000
Zenon Konopka - $500,000
Wyatt Smith - $500,000
Jim Dowd - $500,000
Andreas Karlsson - $500,000
Craig MacDonald - $500,000
Mike Glumac - $495,000
Mark Smith - $488,000
Michael Ryan - $475,000
Krys Barch - $475,000
Brad Winchester - $475,000
John Pohl - $475,000

Left Wingers
Markus Naslund - $6,000,000 - Tick tock, tick tock...
Ladislav Nagy - $3,750,000
Martin Rucinsky - $3,000,000
Ruslan Fedotenko - $2,900,000
Brendan Shanahan - $2,500,000
Gary Roberts - $2,500,000 - Ignore the age and imagine the fun
Petr Cajanek - $2,000,000
Cory Stillman - $1,750,000 - Some help to fill Linden's veteran void?
Andrew Brunette - $1,600,000 - Yes. At least he couldn't score on us anymore.
Matt Cooke - $1,525,000 Sadly he can't return with Vigneault in charge
Geoff Sanderson - $1,500,000
Scott Thornton - $1,500,000
Ryan Malone - $1,450,000 - Drinks are on Ryan come Tuesday.
Kristian Huselius - $1,400,000
Martin Gelinas - $1,250,000
Jarkko Ruutu - $1,150,000 - In a heartbeat
Donald Brashear - $1,100,000
Jason Chimera - $1,000,000
Antti Miettinen - $885,000
Pascal Dupuis - $880,000
Todd Fedoruk - $875,000
Jay Pandolfo - $836,000 - Could slot in the bottom six somewhere.
Jan Hlavac - $700,000
Niklas Hagman - $675,000 - Married to a former Miss Finland? Then yes.
Jody Shelley - $650,000
Eric Boulton - $525,000
David Koci - $525,000
Brad Isbister - $525,000
Darcy Hordichuk - $517,000
Kip Brennan - $500,000
Steve Kelly - $500,000
Matt Murley - $500,000
Jeff Taffe - $500,000
Ryan Bayda - $475,000
Raitis Ivanans - $475,000
Mathias Tjarnqvist - $475,000
Mathieu Darche - $475,000
Noah Clarke - $475,000
Jeff Giuliano - $475,000

Right Wingers
Jaromir Jagr - $8,360,000 Wants a multi-year contract at who knows what price. No.
Marian Hossa - $7,000,000 - Ummm...
Pavol Demitra - $4,500,000 - Still widely assumed to sign here though the reason are still incredibly unreliable.
Miroslav Satan - $4,500,000
Michael Ryder - $2,950,000 - Another rumored Gillis target.
Brian Rolston - $2,432,000 - Better option then Demitra?
Martin Lapointe - $2,400,000
David Vyborny - $2,200,000
Owen Nolan - $1,750,000
Mark Recchi - $1,750,000
Teemu Selanne - $1,500,000
Georges Laraque - $1,300,000
Radim Vrbata - $1,225,000
Andre Roy - $1,000,000
Shean Donovan - $925,000
Brian Willsie - $900,000
Trevor Letowski - $800,000
Mike Johnson - $750,000
Arron Asham - $700,000
Niko Dimitrakos - $575,000
Dallas Drake - $550,000
Darren McCarty - $535,000
Aaron Downey - $525,000
Adam Hall - $525,000
Josh Langfeld - $500,000
Junior Lessard - $500,000
Jeff Hoggan - $495,000
Mark Mowers - $475,000
Darren Haydar - $475,000
Keith Aucoin - $475,000
Eric Godard - $475,000
Scott Parker - $475,000
Jesse Boulerice - $475,000
Kyle Wanvig - $475,000
Craig Weller - $475,000

Defense
Wade Redden - $6,500,000
Rob Blake - $6,000,000
Adam Foote - $4,600,000
Brad Stuart - $3,500,000
Darius Kasparaitis - $3,116,000
Paul Mara - $3,000,000
Teppo Numminen - $2,600,000
Oleg Tverdovsky - $2,500,000
Marek Malik - $2,500,000
Bret Hedican - $2,432,000
Michal Rozsival - $2,300,000 - Not that we need him, but it'd be nice
Dmitri Kalinin - $2,250,000
Keith Carney - $2,100,000
Dick Tarnstrom - $2,000,000
Jason Smith - $1,976,000
Brian Campbell - $1,750,000 - Not a chance.
Mark Eaton - $1,600,000
Bryce Salvador - $1,500,000 - Potential upgrade to fill Miller's slot
Aaron Miller - $1,500,000
Andrei Zyuzin - $1,475,000
John-Michael Liles - $1,400,000
Karel Rachunek - $1,400,000
Richard Matvichuk - $1,368,000
Mike Commodore - $1,300,000 - Would fit in 7 or 8
Jim Vandermeer - $1,225,000 - Would fit in 7 or 8
Nolan Baumgartner - $1,200,000
Jaroslav Modry - $1,200,000
Petteri Nummelin - $1,200,000
Brooks Orpik - $1,075,000 His payday is coming
Jan Hejda - $1,000,000
Andreas Lilja - $1,000,000 - See Rozsival
Ron Hainsey - $900,000
Chris Chelios - $850,000
Branislav Mezei - $850,000
Steve Montador - $800,000
Steve McCarthy - $725,000
Bryan Berard - $725,000
Kurt Sauer - $719,000
Joe DiPenta - $700,000
Magnus Johansson - $700,000
Patrice Brisebois - $700,000
Alexei Semenov - $650,000
Sandis Ozolinsh - $625,000
Joel Kwiatkowski - $600,000
Mark Streit - $600,000
Matt Walker - $600,000
Mike Weaver - $600,000
David Hale - $590,000
Nolan Pratt - $550,000
Rory Fitzpatrick - $550,000 - Canucks should do this just for fun
Jassen Cullimore - $535,000
Alain Nasreddine - $535,000
Freddy Meyer - $525,000
Rob Davison - $525,000
Bobby Allen - $500,000
Jeff Jillson - $500,000
Wade Brookbank - $500,000
Andrew Hutchinson - $500,000
Jason Strudwick - $500,000
Luke Richardson - $500,000
Micki DuPont - $500,000
Garrett Stafford - $500,000
Andy Wozniewski - $500,000
Kevin Dallman - $490,000
Jeff Finger - $475,000
Allan Rourke - $475,000
Sean Hill - $475,000
Ryan Caldwell - $475,000
Brad Norton - $475,000
Doug Janik - $475,000
Bruno St. Jacques - $475,000

The real issues we've touched on before are worth repeating again: last year the Canucks were 18th in 5-on-5 scoring, 18th in powerplay goals, 24th in shots per game and, as a result, played in 40 one-goal games and had 10 OTLs. If you remove Naslund, Linden and Morrison's goals you are at 166 goals total, dead last in the league by a wide margin. So obviously one guy could have a huge impact, but more then likely it'll take a few guys to get these trends going in the positive direction. (Good thing we have a Moneyball GM right?)

So the central questions become:

1. How real is the Hossa option?
I don't think anyone is doubting his skill level. But he'll be looking for an increase of $7 million and could come close to being the highest paid player in the league ($11.34 million) if his agent is skillful enough (or the GM's go mad). What happens when the Sedins are up at the end of the year or Luongo the next; do they deserve to be paid more then Hossa? Then you get into a Tampa Bay problem where too much money is tied up in a handful of guys and you end up trading them for prospects and projects.

Also, as Mirtle points out, there are a handful of other players who posted better numbers even strength last year who won't cost an arm and a leg.

My two cents: once the numbers get too high let Hossa play that game somewhere else.

2. How real is the Malone option?
Hossa's line mate is the other big name. A lot of teams will race at a legitimate power forward like Malone and he's a solid, unique player worth the gamble (re: Edmonton snagging Penner last year). He too will have 29 guys in nice suits calling for his services, but if the rumor of $5 million for four to five years is true, Gillis could nab him and still have roughly $15 million to still round out the roster with, a number that still exceeds most of what other GM's can spend. What happens when/if Malone jumps into the Hossa range? Is he still worth it?

My two cents: I have no friggin idea.

While we still don't know what Gillis's true strengths are as GM, I'm willing to guess he isn't dumb enough to get himself into a bidding war with Hossa, Malone or anyone else (isn't this, in part, why Gilman is around?). As long as he doesn't go that way, I think we'll be in good shape because, as the Cup finalists showed, it's less about the names and more about the collective strength of the team. Otherwise we'll get into yet another Naslund-like situation where let's say Hossa starts playing poorly and we have to hear the "waste of $8 million" argument for five years.

Oh ya, one last intangible worth mentioning: we still have a coach who has never shown he can coach offensively. Just an FYI since it may be relevant when our "new" team suffers from the same old problem while Naslund puts up better numbers in Detroit or Pittsburgh (that whole "collective strength of the team" thing again).

Then again, I've been wrong before. That's why I rarely gamble.

***********


2:28 ET Update: The Pens dismantling begins with the rights to Malone and Roberts going to Tampa Bay. Does not guarantee anything but we'll see.

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