The talk of Mike Gillis adding another puck-moving defenceman derived from 3 different factors:
1. The exit of Mattias Ohlund
2. The Jay Bouwmeester sweepstakes
3. The painful schooling by the Blackhawks in Round 2 of the 2009 Playoffs.
Or a combo of all three. I'm sure Gillis took a stab at Bouwmeester this summer but let's be sensible here: Bouwmeester's salary would have been too much of a cap hit on a team that needed to sign it's top 2 forwards in the Sedin brothers, plus adding another top 6 forward, which eventually turned out to be Mikael Samuelsson. Consider the holes filled at the forward position with plenty of extra fish in the tank.
But is Gillis looking for another top 4 puck-moving defenceman? Is that even realistic at this point, cap-wise? Names like Darryl Sydor and Anton Babchuk are being tossed up (from what's left) all over the web.
While I would welcome either of those 2 players onto our roster, Sydor was making $2.5 million before hitting free agency this summer. Babchuk made $1 million last season and had a great campaign in Carolina. He is going to seek a raise that perhaps no NHL team is willing to pay him. Both players have not been signed yet and there is a reason for that. They are most likely commanding too much, or, in Sydor's case, are too old.
So why do Canucks fans keep insisting that we need this type of defenceman? Why wouldn't Mike Gillis wait until he gets a good gander at guys like Evan Oberg (for example, who IS a reliable puck-moving defenceman) at training camp? More importantly, why can't we expect to see Alexander Edler and Kevin Bieksa thrive in expanded roles?
Allow me to finish this post in point form to throw some stats and what-not at you:
-How many puck-moving D-men do you need to win a Stanley Cup? Pittsburgh's Sergei Gonchar scored 3 goals and 14 points in 22 playoff games this past spring. Coming in at 2nd for the Penguins was Kris Letang at 4 goals and 14 points in 23 playoff games. 3rd was Mark Eaton at 4 goals and 7 points in 24 playoff games.
-As for the runner-up Red Wings: Niklas Lidstrom had 4 goals and 16 points in 21 playoff games. Brian Rafalski had 3 goals and 12 points in 18 post season games. Brad Stuart scored 3 goals and 9 points in 23 playoff matches.
-What is my point? There were not a lot of points scored beyond the 2nd offensive defenceman for either team. Comparatively, Edler scored 8 points in 10 playoff games. Sami Salo scored 7 points in 7 games. Bieksa had 5 assists in 10 playoff games. (I know he can do better than that.) Mattias Ohlund had 1 goal and 3 points in 10 playoff games, but he did rank tops on the Canucks in +/- at a +5 rating.
-Are Bieksa and Edler that bad at moving the puck? I say NO.
-So if I'm saying we don't necessarily need another slick-skating, puck-controlling, well-known defenceman what am I saying? I personally think that we need a TEAM that doesn't collapse in their own end, like what happened in Round 2 against Chicago. Yes, I'm chalking that dreadful 7-5 finale to a collapse as a TEAM. It doesn't scream "get a damned speedy defenceman like M-A Bergeron or who-the-hell-ever-else."
-Why do I think that Mike Gillis will wait until after training camp to possibly acquire the aforementioned d-man? Because he has had plenty of opportunities to acquire one through free agency already and has stood pat. I think he's waiting to see if a player emerges out of training camp. And why wouldn't he? He has limited cap space left, and he'd have to flog too much cap space to acquire the defenceman that all these internet gurus think he needs to get.
If you think Demitra and his $4 million salary is getting traded to make room for a quality D guy, you need to lower your standards. That is wishful thinking. We are left with the cluster of players that will be vying for a top 9 spot at training camp, and none of those players would free up enough cap space via a trade route in order for Gillis to get a big-named defenceman and still fit his salary under the cap.
Am I losing you yet? OK, I'll stop now. End rant.