Nature abhors a vacuum, capri pants, non-alcoholic beer and Avril Lavigne. But primarily vacuums. So, since there's no Vancouver news I'm just going to make some up by playing
the gambler Dave Nonis for a little bit.
Ergo, as the grand pooba of the Canuck clan, I am still a little peeved with that second round bad tequila taste left in my omnipotent mouth. For this team to not just make the playoffs but win convincingly (i.e. score) it's going to take some work.
Let's take a look at the upcoming UFA centers first and see how they can fit into the Vancouver plans, if at all. Right off the bat we can eliminate:
Scott Gomez - Out of budget Stu Barnes - Fading fast Eric Belanger Viktor Kozlov - Wasn't terribly effective in the Devils defense-first system Wayne Primeau Wes Walz - Your years on Minnesota have stained my view of you. Go away. Far away. Florida has a team I hear. Peter Forsberg - No. No no no. Petr Sykora - See Forsberg. Nik Antropov - Even the Leafs aren't that stupid to let him go, right? Eric Lindros - It's simply adorable you're still trying. Ian Laperriere - We have enough fourth liners. Jeff O'Neill - A few years too late for top dollar. Bryan Smolinski - Just not the best fit. Chris Drury - Out of budget. Daniel Briere - Out of budget. Pierre Turgeon - Linden can play the aging warrior role.
With those guys gone, that leaves:
Brett McLean - Small, but shows he can score with third line duties
Jozef Stumpel - Can certainly score, but age/injuries will be a factor
Michael Peca - Offers plenty of intangibles, including his own injuries
Michal Handzus - Torn ACL stopped what looked like a great year for Chicago
Mike Comrie - Potentially best asset would be angering Oil fans
Mike York - Are his best days ahead or behind him?
Patrik Stefan - Has "project" written all over it
Radek Bonk - If he would only learn to use his size...
Robert Lang - Questionable worth ethic may drive Vigneault nuts
Todd White - Would he be another become another Chouinard?
Tyler Arnason - Rebounded last year, but can he do it again?
Yanic Perreault - Great defensively, but could be run over repeatedly by the opposition.
Lastly, there are a ton of guys who likely would command less then a million bucks a year:
Adam Mair, Andreas Karlsson, Boyd Devereaux, Byron Ritchie, Carl Corazinni, Craig MacDonald, Eric Boguniecki, Eric Perrin, Erik Rasmussen, Glen Metropolit, Jason Morgan, Jason Wiemer, Jeff Hamilton, Jeremy Reich,
Jeremy Roenick, Jerred Smithson, Jim Dowd, Josef Vasicek, Mark Cullen, Mark Hartigan, Mark Smith, Marty Murray, Matt Hussey, Michael Holmqvist, Michael Ryan, Mike Glumac, Mike Ricci, Peter Nedved, Randy Robitaille, Scott Nichol, Serge Payer, Toby Peterson, Tommi Santala, Travis Green, Trent Whitefield, and Wyatt Smyth.
Lots of names and very few dollars to play with, so obviously sir Nonis would use a matrix to figure this out right? Well he uses mine now:
Will break bank/move contracts for: Handzus
Hold your breath and pray: Stumpel & Perreault
Go nuts, but don't expect much: Comrie or York
Plan a project: Stefan (overall talent, missing empty netters), Lang (work ethic)
Look fondly at Manitoba: Moran, Smith, Reid, & Rypien
Just get a warm body: Boguniecki, Rasmussen, Ritchie, Metropolit, Vasicek and Cain Marko if he fits in skates.