Sunday, November 30, 2008

Prediction: Sundin to the Canucks

Mats Sundin rumors have been and will be the center of attention in the NHL for the next month, as we are coming closer and closer to the day he signs with a NHL club. I am saying the words now - Mats Sundin will be in the Vancouver Canucks lineup come January 2009. Sundin will be signing with Vancouver sometime in December and suit up near Christmas time.
I previously spoke about Luongo's injury and if it was for an extended period of time - Sundin will be going elsewhere. Now we know it is only a "week to week" injury, so when Loungo is in the lineup, so will Sundin. There are still many teams in contention for the Sundin sweepstakes, but I think Vancouver will come out on top.

Reason to sign:
  • Chance at a cup: I guarantee you Gilles has or will tell Sundin that if he signs with the club, he will make a blockbuster trade at the deadline to stack the team in an attempt to make a run this season and the next. Why have Luongo and Sundin secured in the lineup for the next two years without making a run. The window is starting to close and the chance at the cup is now.
  • Added scoring: Vancouver is currently 8th in NHL teams in scoring just behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. Vancouver coming into the season is once again plagued by the question of where the offence is going to come from. 1/4 through the season, the Canucks are not as offensive challenged as many predicted, but help is definitely needed. Sundin will secure a solid first or second line with the Sedins on the other.
  • Captaincy problem: Whatever team Sundin goes to will have a leadership conflict. A captain throughout his career, Sundin will continue to lead. How this situation is perfect in Vancouver is that Luongo is the captain of the team and Sundin can help with the offensive unit while Luongo still wears the "C". If Naslund was still a Canuck with Sundin coming in, the situation will be a lot more difficult compared to going the unconventional route with Luongo as the captain.
  • Olympics: I personally don't think this is a big deal, but if he joins the Canucks he can represent Sweden in the 2010 Olympics playing in front of his hometown fans. This might not be the ultimate decision maker for Sundin, but it doesn't harm the cause for the Canucks.
  • Money: One simple word - MONEY. Canucks has not taken off the 2 year-10million dollar contract they offered Sundin on July 1st. No other team came close to the offer and money is definitely in anybody's consideration when signing a contract.
  • Salary Cap Room: Canucks still has close to 10 million dollars in contract space and they are the only team in the running that can deliver the contract to Sundin today and have him sign it without altering the team. All the other teams need to free up cap-space and dump salary in order to sign Sundin. Trades are not easy to make in the NHL - Montreal and New York Rangers will basically be throwing away players in order to free up cap-room.
  • Travelling: One of the biggest set-back in Vancouver's attempt to sign Sundin. Western teams are disadvantaged in the scheduling as proximity of cities in the West are farther apart than the East. As Sundin says himself, travelling is no longer an issue with a shorten season for him.

Conspiracy Theory:
- Sundin and Gilles already had a verbal contract worked out in the off-season stating that Sundin will sign with the Canucks in the middle of the season. Why I say this is that how can a first time GM be so patient and leave so much cap-space knowing far too well he needs more scoring. Who knows when Sundin will make up his mind, and by then maybe the Canucks are already so far out of playoff contention they need to blow up the team. Leaving that much cap-room open seems a little skeptical to me. But maybe thats why he is the GM and I am not.

- Sundin signing in the middle of the season also cuts down the labor of travelling out in the West. He doesn't want to go through all the travelling of the season so he waits till middle of the season to sign with the Canucks.

- Naming Luongo as captain eases the awkwardness of bringing in Sundin to a team mid-season. They could have easily named Willie Mitchell as the captain, but when Sundin comes in, the chemistry of the locker-room will be different. But with Luongo, he is the undisputed Captain of the team.

With all these events adding up, it seems like Gilles and Sundin already had everything planned out. I can't think of any other teams or situation that is more perfect for Sundin than than the Canucks. Everything that he would consider, Vancouver comes out on top. Sundin as a Canuck come 2009!