Raffi Torres: The $1 Million Dollar Domino?

By adding Mr. Torres to the nebulous forward ranks the Canucks are officially $3,658,333 over the cap. Today would be an ideal time to play with capgeek to figure out how the hell Mitchell is supposed to fit into the budget.

On the face of it, there's certainly a lot to like about the signing. He's cheap (injuries sliced his previous contract of $2.75 down to barely the seven figure mark) and brings some sandpaper, PP experience and scoring prowess along with it.

He also re-introduces some familiar question marks and could be the domino that sets the stage - barring any camp standouts of course - for opening night.

Again, the good about Torres: he had strong years before and directly after the lockout with the Oilers; their SC run of 2005-06 he notched 27 goals in the regular season and added 11 points in the post. He suffered an ACL injury before leaving Edmonton but strung together some solid seasons in Columbus while also contributing to their top six on occasion. Before he was traded last season to Buffalo, he had 12 goals and 31 points playing on a line with Jakub Voracek and Derek Brassard.

Our initial guess last night was wrong in that we thought Torres was a PK'er; rather he's done some decent work on the man advantage, with 22 PP tallies over his career. He also added six game winners two seasons ago too (for comparison, Daniel lead the team with eight last season). One more tidbit of the useless variety: he has scored more against Vancouver than any other team.

Courtesy of Mike McLean from The Cannon, here's the Blue Jackets take on our new toy:

Raffi is an interesting player. During his time with the Jackets he was known for two things- being a maniac on the ice and scoring clutch goals. You can expect him to chip in with 10-15 goals given the opportunity, and every game you will see a guy who gives his all. He hits everything that moves, and plays a bit of an agitating role. Unfortunately his style leads to bad penalties on occasion, along with odd man rushes against due to him not being in position.

On the whole though Raffi is a great player to have on your team. In a checking or energy role he could excel, but putting him in a strict system may hurt his game. He can also moonlight on a scoring line and not look out of place. Raffi's true value shows in the playoffs, given his clutch offense and physical style.

Over the past (*checks fake wrist watch*) 12 hours I've warmed to Torres more. I get my back up a little when I see the phrase low risk / high reward since that is precisely what Bernier and Wellwood started off as. Frustratingly inconsistent is another Bernier-like quality that makes me want to slam a brick into my face. One of the last things an AV-lead squad needs is another guy who takes boneheaded calls. Also we shouldn't ignore his failure in Buffalo (read towards the bottom here) though, to be fair, he was buried on their fourth line and was at least honest about the quality of his play. His failure in Buffalo may point to their system and how he was used.

I'm probably splitting hairs for a guy who is still young-ish and comes at that discount. What role he serves is the next question since Vancouver has a couple holes to fill. AV would be insane not to try Torres - a crash and bang guy with good hands around the net - out along with the Sedins as an all ginger, daywalking red attack line (the line name possibilities are endless). Or he gives AV the comfort to move Samuelsson to the first line and drop Torres to the second with Kesler and Raymond though I'm not sure if that's the best fit for him. In either example, Torres gets a competent center & consistently tougher minutes than in his previous campaigns.

If Torres is bound for the bottom of the chart (let's say Cody Hodgson or Sergei Shirokov steps into the top six), he joins a mix that already includes Manny Malhotra, Jannik Hansen, Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, Darcy Hordichuk, Victor Oreskovich, Joel Perrault, Jeff Tambellini, Alexandre Bolduc and Guillaume Desbiens (this is ignoring any camp try outs and standouts or Bieksa-like trade dumps). We were struggling to guess at these lines already, but with Torres in there I don't see how Desbiens, Boldic, Perrault, Tambellini or Oreskovich get true playing time. They'll definitely need to earn it; just like last fall, the logjam at the bottom will be one of the most anticipated parts of camp and one that could make a simply massive difference when Vancouver lines up against the Chicago's and San Jose's of the world in the regular season.

No matter where Torres lands, these are all good problems to have heading into September (well, not that cap problem). If nothing else he joins the likes of Burrows, Kesler, Rypien, Hammer, Ballard and Glass - as well as postseason hitting champion Sammy and maybe Bieksa, SOB and Alberts - as folks who make playing the Canucks tougher, if not flatly more annoying.

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