Ok, here's my best guess at the roster lineup for opening day, barring any unlikely additions, as well as my rationale.
First off, I've had to concede a few assumptions or it gets too messy:
- Bieksa and his $3.75 mil contract have to go in order for us to resign Raymond (which I believe we will do in the neighborhood of $2.5-$3 mil).
- Cody Hodgson makes the team.
- One-way contracts make the team, with the exception of Darcy Hordichuk. The team either trades him or sucks up his contract and barries him in the minors (re-entry waivers could get us stuck with half his contract against the cap). Alberts is on the bubble here, but I surmise that based on the Canucks history of carrying 8 D, and the depth of forwards on two-way contracts that can also be recalled without going through waivers (Hodgson, Schroeder, Oreskovich, Shirokov), that he makes the team and sticks around as insurance.
- O'Brien, Hanson and Glass get one-way contracts close to their qualifying offers.
I'm also assuming that Burrows won't be healthy to start the season, and because of this, I think there is a strong possibility that Schroeder (depending on his pre-season) gets a taste of some NHL action early. I do believe that when Burrows is healthy, and before Schroeder plays 10 games he will be sent to the Moose as to preserve a year of restricted free-agency.
Based on these assumptions here is my opening day roster:
2010-11 VANCOUVER CANUCKS
CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
Daniel Sedin ($6.100m) - Henrik Sedin ($6.100m) - Mikael Samuelsson ($2.500m)
* Mason Raymond ($2.500m) - Ryan Kesler ($5.000m) - Jordan Schroeder ($1.025m)
Manny Malhotra ($2.500m) - Cody Hodgson ($1.667m) - * Jannik Hansen ($0.550m)
Victor Oreskovich ($0.575m) - Joel Perrault ($0.510m) - Rick Rypien ($0.550m)
* Tanner Glass ($0.600m)
Alexandre Burrows ($2.000m)
Dan Hamhuis ($4.500m) - Christian Ehrhoff ($3.100m)
Keith Ballard ($4.200m) - Alexander Edler ($3.250m)
Sami Salo ($3.500m) - Shane O'Brien ($1.600m)
Andrew Alberts ($1.050m) - Aaron Rome ($0.750m)
Roberto Luongo ($5.333m) / Cory Schneider ($0.900m)
(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)
ROSTER: 24; CAP:$59.4m; CARRY-OVER PENALTY: $0.090m;
PAYROLL: $60.450m; CAP ROOM: $-0.075m; BONUSES: $0.975m
Burrows would be starting the season on the IR and hence not be taking up a roster spot but still having his contract count against the cap. Injury relief may come but whoever is sent down upon his return will more than cover the $0.075 mil overage. I imagine Hodgson centering the 3rd line but getting to watch Malhotra take most important faceoffs (Malhotra's faceoff skills will also be getting plenty of use on the PK- so they won't be getting wasted like so many posters have suggested). It is also possible that Tambellini makes a strong case for Schroeder's spot on the opening day second line (although if he clears waivers at the start of the season I do believe he is exempted from re-entry waivers throughout the season based on his NHL games played and contract). And who knows, maybe Shirokov will impress again?
I like Hansen on the third line because of his speed and ability to create turnovers on the forecheck. I think he could compliment Hodgson's skill and Malhotra's size. I think Glass is going to get rotated into one of the three spots on the fourth line based on matchups and how those guys are playing. I think the combination of skill, size and toughness in that bottom four matches up well with any team. The loss of Hordichuk's toughness, i think is easily compensated by our increase in size and toughness on the blueline (Hamhuis, Ballard, O'Brien, Alberts are all capable of dropping the gloves and holding their own).
Picking defensive pairings is going to be a crapshoot as long as there are five guys that could be considered top 2. I imagine AV going with a combination of finesse and physical presence on each pairing, which means Ballard and Hamhuis are most likely going to be split up, and my guess is playing with Ehrhoff and Edler in some combination. This will allow Salo to be concentrated on special team minutes and hopefully avoid the injuries by not playing substantial time even strength.
After Burrows returns, I expect him to slip onto the line with Kesler and Raymond. I think that Samuelsson demonstrated his ability to play with the Sedins during the playoffs, and I really do like the edge, grit and nastiness to play against that a Kesler and Burrows combination creates. Burrows is a little too hesitant to cause much havoc while the Sedins are on the ice.
- I know I've penciled Raymond in at $2.5 mil, should he get more than that (ie. closer to $3 mil), I think, the more likely either Alberts gets stuck in Manitoba in favor of ferrying Oberg back and forth if need be. I think it's definitely in the team's best interest to have some leeway approaching the trade deadline as there are definitely some wild cards in the bottom 5 forwards- fourth line in particular. I think it would be conducting due diligence to try and keep $0.5-$1 available, if possible.
Anyways, I think I've pretty much covered it. Obviously I'm already a little too pumped for next season and spending too much time thinking about it. Could this be the year?