Canucks' Center Bulk Raises Questions

The Vancouver Canucks are either over-reacting to lack of depth at center during the playoffs, or they’re readying themselves to make a deal.

Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks added a 6th center under contract, 28 yr old Andrew Ebbett.  The diminutive (5-foot-9) pivot has played for four different NHL clubs, collecting 41 points (19-22) and 38 PIMs over 145 games.  In addition to Ebbett, the Canucks also have Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Manny Malhotra, Maxim Lapierre and Cody Hodgson signed to contract.

Pictured here playing for Minnesota, Andrew Ebbett makes life for Henrik Zetterberg difficult

The interesting thing about the signing is that, out of the positions the Canucks need to invest limited cap space into, center wouldn’t appear to be it.  One could argue that the cap space could be better used augmenting their defense, or possibly their wing.  One interesting note, though, is that some sites list Ebbett as left wing eligible, so perhaps Vancouver is hoping to convert him from his natural center position.

Though it pains me to admit this, it’s quite possible the Canucks are shopping Cody Hodgson, or anticipating a potential deal.  Hodgson’s $1.66 M cap hit surely doesn’t help matters, as cap room has become limited.  Capgeek.com lists the Canucks as having $4.59 M remaining, but that doesn’t include Ebbett’s new contract, whatever raise Jannik Hansen receives in arbitration, or resigning Victor Oreskevich.  Considering Ebbett made $525,000 last season with Phoenix, it’s likely he’ll have a very similar contract, so his cap hit is minimal.  That being said, it’s unusual for the Canucks to be carrying so many centers; I’d be amazed if they’re packing this current six-pack into opening night.

Ebbett had 2 goals and 3 assists in 33 games for the Coyotes last season

Jannik Hansen made $825,000 last season, and with his career year, and improvement on the penalty kill, Jason Botchford commented yesterday on Team 1040 radio that he will probably be awarded somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 M.  If the Canucks want to make an addition to their top 6 forwards, it’s likely that Hodgson will be the collateral.

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