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A second line left wing. That is what Mason Raymond is, that is what the Canucks need. Raymond already a part of the team and a suitable role for that position, so it's natural the Canucks pursue resigning him. Raymond is going through arbitration now, because he feels he can fetch more dollars than what he was offered. The rumblings are that his agent will present a strong case for making upto 4 million per year. Is that worth his value? Should Canucks decide to walk away from him, let's take a look at a list of players who can realistically replace him. Please note: I am including UFA's AND RFA's, because both categories are plausible signings. The list is in no specific order! My price range is no one who I think would make more than 3 million dollars. Paul Kariya: 43 P in 75 GP. This has to be his worse point per game year yet, which makes him a viable option for a low-balled contract. Could thrive one last time in the right system, if conditioned enough. Tomas Fleischmann: 51 P in 69 GP. Injury problems have plagued this young skater's career, but this guy can play either wing, and has been played as a center with the Caps for part of last year. Slava Kozlov: 26 P in 55 GP. This unpredictable veteran has had seasons that range from just over a point per game to the stat that is beside his name. He is 38, so this may just be his swan song, instead of an unfocused year. James Neal: 55 P in 78 GP. Only 22, and in just his second season of the NHL. I would speculate the 3 million limit I've set would be a great deal to catch Neal under. He will either continue or improve his game next year. Jere Lehtinen: 17 P in 58 GP. More of the same mold as Kozlov. An old, streaky player, and throw in injury problems too. With that being said, this 37 year old fetched 37 P in 48 GP just three years ago. 50 points in a full season is not out of reach for Jere's last gasp. Fabian Brunnstrom: 11 P in 44 GP. Given the past drama surrounding Canucks trying to sign him for his rookie NHL season, and his disappointing work once arrived in the NHL with the Dallas Stars, this player may not ever be an option. Worth noting, as he is skilled and capable, IF disciplined. He tallied 29 P in 59 GP 2 years ago in his rookie season. Alexei Ponikarovsky: 50 P in 77 GP. Poni boy is capable of 20 goals per season, as accomplished with the Leafs for multiple seasons. It seems like forever since he winged to Mats Sundin, but he is only 30. Ruslan Fedotenko: 30 P in 80 GP. Doesn't look too good? Well he accomplished 39 P in 65 GP the year before. He has only reached 40 points once in his career, even while playing aside Malkin and Crosby. He is 31 with room for improvement, but Fedz may be better suited for a third line, or a team with lesser offensive power than the Canucks. Matt Moulson: 48 P in 82 GP. Having a breakout season, Matt has finally stuck in the NHL for a full season at the age of 26. This late bloomer shouldn't be overlooked. Fredik Modin: 11 P in 44 GP. The 35 year old's best stat year was 57 P in 2004 with Tamba Bay. He has seen a natural decline because of age though. Alexander Frolov: 51 P in 81 GP. This playmaker who is arguably in his prime right now, will surely fetch the 3 million limit I've set if I am too include him in this list. That's about it for my scouting report, alot of older players who probably won't even be looked at, and alot of RFA's that will probably be resigned by their current team. However they are all possibilities and all capable of being productive second liners playing alongside Kesler and Samuelsson. Who do you like the looks of? Have another suggestion? Leave a comment and let me know! @itzJULES
With most teams in the NHL you can point to one player on the team who is the face of the franchise. The Capitals belong to Ovechkin, the Penguins belong to Malkin, the Islanders are Tavares' and the Kings are Kopitar's. The list goes on but the point is most teams have one face, one super star that either makes or breaks the team based on how they play. With that concept in mind, these Canucks once were Luongos. The face of the 2006-07 franchise-record-49-Win Canucks, was Luongo. He won his first career playoff series single-handedly, and lost his second career playoff series single-handedly. Since then this team has evolved around a core group of players that are a combination of to tier forwards, rock solid blue liners, a passionate goalie and a desire to win. That being said, this season has exemplified one thing in particular: The Canucks don't have one leader, they play as a team. This year's Canucks define exactly what a team should be and that's been the story all year. I can remember just how many times over the years I've said, "We need secondary scoring, the top lines are in a slump", and the Canucks haven't had the depth or talent to pull it off. When you look at this year's team, secondary scoring was at one point the only reason we didn't tank. Through the Canucks injury problems all year, through the slumps, and the highs and lows, there has always been someone to step in and take over. In one particular game it was Ryan Johnson and Tanner Glass against the Avalanche resulting in Johnson's first multi-point game of his career, in another it was Mason Raymond who decided to go on a streak. When the Sedins came back and the Canucks needed to turn things around Burrows took over, but post Olympics it's been Kesler who's carried the team. With the Sedins in a pre-Olympic slump as a result of a snubbing Samuelsson has stepped his game up. What's even more impressive is that Samuelsson has stepped his game up during the Canucks most critical point in the season. Between Henrik's offensive outburst, Burrows' nose for the net, Samuelsson's response to the snub, Raymond's breakout year and Kesler's ascent to the next tier of forwards, it's no surprise that this team doesn't have one singular face. This team has learned to find a way to win. What's more important, and most important is they've found a way to win without having to rely on Luongo to perform near miracles on an almost nightly basis. The Canucks chemistry is at an all time high and with the number of players having career years what makes this year's edition of the Vancouver Canucks unique is their ability to step up individually and carry this team when it needs someone to take the reigns. The most perfect example was Samuelsson and his second period hat trick against the Avalanche, but in the streaks various different Canucks players have thrown together it's clear that when there is a hole in the offense or defense someone steps up. On a blue line that has struggled from the get go and had to give more responsibility to the likes of everyone's favourite Canuck Shane O'Brien, Christian Ehrhoff has come in and stepped up. The German Olympian who is having an outstanding year on the blue line has scored key goals for the Canucks on several occasions this season. Heck, even O'Brien has buttoned down and become a responsible defenceman. While he might have the odd defensive breakdown, he's strayed from racking up the penalty minutes and he's stepped up to the increased responsibility as the Canucks infirmary tries to spit players out as fast as they come in. This year's Canucks are not defined by one player but by many. They're not defined by one success story, and the story around this year's team has not been about individuals. It's been about a team that's had to come together over the adversity of injury, the obstacle of the NHL's longest road trip, and the sportsmanship of a game which saw players go from teammates to rivals and back to teammates in the span of two weeks. This year's Canucks are defined by their city, their fans, and their desire to win. This year's Canucks are defined by a coach that's on the verge of being a miracle worker, and players that buy into the team picture. This year's Canucks are defined by players that step up when they have to, not when they're called out to. This year's Canucks define what it means to be a team.