After falling one game short of the coveted Stanley Cup, the Vancouver Canucks are beginning to understand the financial difficulties the Chicago Blackhawks experienced after their Cup pursuit.
Much has been written about the mass exodus of players from the Chicago Blackhawks organization last off-season, due to financial limitations. During the 2009-10 season, no team spent more money than the Chicago Blackhawks on contracts, having spent $55,762,544, exceeding the cap by $4,157,753 (in large part due to $5,000,000 in bonuses).
This year, the NHL cap ceiling is $64.3 million, and the Vancouver Canucks have currently spent $60,423,333, while still awaiting arbitration results from Jannik Hansen. They are also still trying to hammer out a deal with restricted free agent, Victor Oreskovich. Also, the Canucks committed $700,000 to RW free agent Byron Bitz yesterday, though it’s likely he’ll spend the majority of his time with the Chicago Wolves (Canucks’ new AHL affiliate).
On June 24th, 2010, the Blackhawks dealt Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and Akim Aliu to the Atlanta Thrashers for Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, Joey Crabb, and a 1st and 2nd round selection in the 2010 draft. Already, the Canucks had to get something for Christian Ehrhoff, who scoffed at the Bieksa-esque money (see “Not Enough ‘Juice’ for Ehrhoff” – http://thecanuckway.com/2011/06/29/not-enough-juice-for-ehrhoff/ )
he was being offered. He found deeper pockets in Buffalo (http://sabrenoise.com/), where he signed a jaw dropping 10 year front-loaded $53 million contract. At least Vancouver obtained the New York Islanders 2011 4th round selection before losing him for nothing. One has to remember also that the San Jose Sharks were doing the same thing, shedding salary, knowing they wouldn’t be able to re-sign him. The Canucks parted with Daniel Rahimi and Patrick White (the latter a former 1st round draft pick, who still appears to be a bust) to obtain Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich.
At the end of the day, Lorne Henning (VP of Player Personnel) and Laurence Gilman (VP Hockey Operations) will crunch the numbers, leaving Mike Gillis with few, if any, question marks to deal with. But Canucks fans aren’t as worried about how the Canucks fit under the cap. No, they’re more worried about the Canucks’ regular and post-season efforts turning out the same way the Blackhawks’ 2010-11 season did after losing key players.
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