The Vancouver Canucks dipped into the Unrestricted Free Agent Market on opening day of the NHL free agency period, by picking up a few forwards & 1 notable defenseman... Dan Hamhuis.
General Manager Mike Gillis was a busy boy on opening day. He went out and signed 4 new players, 2 that will be undoubtedly part of the Canucks roster & 2 who hope to be.
At $27M over 6 yrs, the Canucks got the highly sought after free agent Dan Hamhuis, who was so much in demand, 2 different teams traded for his negotiating rights prior to July 1st in hopes of wooing him to sign there before he hit the open market.
The 6'1, 202 lb, 27 yr old Smithers, BC native, played last season in Nashville. There he put up 24 pts in 78 GP with a +4 rating.
What the Canucks get in Hamhuis, is a very good shutdown defensively responsible dman, maybe soft physically at times...but makes up for it with incredible hockey sense. Should be a capable 2nd unit PP defenseman that will be a staple in the top 4 regular shift dmen. Still is improving his game, the upside on him is tantalizing to scouts & will likely soon find himself taking 1st line time...perhaps even this season.
Along with the addition of Keith Ballard, the Canucks have shored up their defense that was weakened last season with the longterm injuries of Willie Mitchell & Kevin Bieksa. With Mitchell all but moving on these recent additions shore up the Canucks main 6 unit, likely even leaving Bieksa as trade bait down the line.
It seemed fairly evident in the last week that Hamhuis had tunnel vision on the Canucks as his prefered destination & Canucks fans seemed tunnel visioned on getting him. Both sides got what they wanted today, and the price, not too shabby...when you consider the likes of an aging Sergei Gonchar got 5.5M from Ottawa on a 3 yr deal & Paul Martin got 5M from the Penguins.
This move now makes the Canucks defense (for now) one of the deepest in the NHL.
The Canucks dipped into the forward Free Agent Market on opening day as well, most notably by picking up forward Manny Malhotra.
The 30 yr old Mississauga, ON native, played last season in San Jose. There he put up 14 goals, 33 pts in 71 GP while finishing a +17. He also had the 2nd best faceoff percentage in the 2010 NHL Playoffs.
What the Canucks get in Malhotra, is a versatile forward who can play centre & wing, can play defensive style checking forward, and be an adequate offensive piece. At $2.5M for 3 years, the price might be a little steeper than some might want, but the Canucks needed a player like this & with some cap room to play with, felt overpaying to get their guy was acceptable. His addition is the Canucks answer to letting Ryan Johnson go, he will get lots of chances as a penalty killing forward.
After trading away Steve Bernier & Michael Grabner recently. The Canucks were looking to possibly fill a hole or two in their back 6, and this move will help to do that.
Other Canuck signings today included Jeff Tambellini, the former New York Islander & son of former Canucks player Steve Tamblellini, as well as Joel Perrault, a former Phoenix Coyotes farmhand with a handful of NHL games.
Former Canucks goalies, Curtis Sanford & Alex Auld signed on in Montreal, while recent back up Andrew Raycroft got a 2 yr deal in Dallas.
Elsewhere in the Northwest Division
Calgary Flames got in their Hot Tub Time Machine to re-acquire Alex Tanguay & Olli Jokinen. Rumour has them trying to get Theo Fleury & Ed Beers locked up next.
Edmonton Oilers obtained the best deal of the day in PP catalyst Kurtis Foster for only 1.8M.
Minnesota Wild bolstered the 2nd & 3rd lines with depth forwards Matt Cullen & Eric Nystrom
Colorado Avalanche acquired nothing.
Edmonton Oilers- autograph report
Formerly a terrific signing team, the Oilers have been relegated to the dreadful list....but its not entirely their fault. Its actually their managements fault. See, they ahve a guy in the P.R. department with napolean complex issues & he tries to validate his existence by inconveniencing his team & alienating fans by making the players less accessable.
The players dont care, but he sure does. Hes been like this for 4 or 5 years now, but only in the last year has he stepped his efforts up to a level that has passed the point of absurd. So because of him, the Oilers are often a near write off. This trip wasnt too great.
JEFF DESLAURIERS, DEVAN DUBNYK & NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN- no reports
SHELDON SOURAY- 1 autograph. Signed a handful but was not the overly chipper signer of multiple items I have met many times before.
ALL OTHERS- no reports
DUSTIN PENNER- 2 autographs. Did 2 items with no complaints.
SAM GAGNER- 1 autograph. Hurried thru a small handul of requests, mainly because the midget troll PR guy was lurking I suspect.
ALL OTHERS- no reports.
Yes, it was this bad. 4 autographs.
Edmonton Oilers- autograph report
Just like my Toronto experience, I only arrived for before the game.
So like Toronto, my report is thin.
It was made thinner by the low class Public Relations tema the Oilers have. For years they have had some little weasel who seems to think its his sole purpose on the planet to stop players from signing, and now has taken to having the Oilers bus taken to a secure loading area. The only team in hockey that does this at their hotel. I try to remain an Oilers fan thru this, but this little troll does make it hard, and even the 3 fans from Edmonton at the hotel who couldnt believe they did it said the same thing.
So I headed to the rink & had not horrible success considering the circumstances.
NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN- 1 autograph. As usual Nik was a class act, signing off the bus.
JEFF SESLAURIERS- no report
TOM GILBERT- 2 autographs. Coming off the bus, you rarely get too many players to stop, but Tom did & signed multiple items when he did.
EVERYONE ELSE- no report
SHAWN HORCOFF- 2 autographs. Shawn was one of the guys I most wanted to get. He was one of the first to arrive & did 2 items for me with no complaints. This is a change from the usually slightly elusive & always strict 1 per Horcoff of recent years. Hope it wasnt just a momentary change.
ZACH STORTINI- 2 autographs. Always been a decent signer, still is.
ETHAN MOREAU- 2 autographs. Did both items with no hesitation.
SAM GAGNER- 0 autographs. I missed Sam going for another player, but I saw he willingly signed for the 1 other fan waiting when he asked him.
REST OF THE TEAM- no report
Total for Edmonton- 9 autographs
Canadagraphs Hockey Blogs
From time to time I have something to say on hockey. Whether its the Vancouver Canucks, NHL in general, Womens Hockey or International Hockey...if I have something to post, it will be in here.