The 2014 free agency frenzy has come and gone. It was a crazy pace of signings and dollars flying by as teams JUMPED back and forth to get the big names sign the dotted line. Following their big splash at the NHL draft, many expected the Vancouver Canucks to make a big splash during free agency. I would describe it as more of a subdued affair compared to the non-stop action that the Canucks were involved in during the draft.
Rumors ran rampant in the days leading up to July 1st, that the Canucks were trying to land Ryan Miller and his veteran experience in goal to bring experience to the net. The Canucks made the rumors, fact with the announcement, July 1st that they had signed Ryan Miller to a 3-year contract.
It may surprise or anger some to see Ryan Miller come in and theoretically take the starter’s position ahead of Eddie Lack. Like the decision to bring Miller or not, the team was always going to have bring in a veteran to help stabilize the net WITH Lack. I’m NOT saying that Lack is not a capable goalie just simply that he still needs time to fully develop into that starter that we all know he will be.
Last year Lack got thrown into the lion’s den when the Luongo saga ended and he had the weight of an entire fan base thrown upon him. Lack came in last year ready to be the support role and ready to play whenever asked which is exactly what he did. He did NOT ask for the drama that unfolded when he was given consecutive starts over Luongo, nor did he ask for the fallout from the fans that came with unfair expectations after Luongo was traded to Florida.
With Ryan Miller coming in, it takes the immense pressure off of Lack and will push him to play his best every time he’s in the net. Yes, it is true that he may not play as many games as last season but what is the use of guessing the number games? No matter how many games Lack and Miller each play at the end of the day does not matter, all that does matter is which ever goalie is in the net on any given game night will give the team a chance to win.
To you, Vancouver, I have a FEW words of caution. We had Luongo until this city drove him to demand a trade. Luongo was NEVER given the respect that he deserved during his tenure and often shouldered the blame even when it was not his to own. It is now our chance to once again watch not one, but two talented goalies in net that BOTH deserve respect. So..how about THIS year we start off on the right note by RESPECTING BOTH of our goalies ALL year round? Does that not sound like a refreshing concept?
Radim Vrbata became the Canucks second acquisition through the free agency pool as they looked to help fill the scoring hole left by Ryan Kesler, signing Vrbata to a 2-year contract. Vrbata brings with him power play prowess and some shoot out skills, both of which will be greatly appreciated on the roster. It is a well known fact that the shoot outs have never been the Canucks strong suit and that one of their biggest struggles last year (at least in the second half) was their power play. Having spent the last 5 years playing in the desert (Phoenix), it will be a change for him to play in a hockey crazed Canadian market.
Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks, Radim! I’m looking forward to you helping the Sedins and seeing you use some of those patented shoot out moves in my least favourite hockey tie breaker!
With the additions of Miller and Vrbata to the Canucks, Benning announced that the roster movements were completed for now. First came free agency frenzy, next comes re-signing our restricted free agents. The Canucks are looking to re-sign the following RFA’s: Zack Kassian, Yannick Weber, Chris Tanev and the newly acquired Linden Vey. UPDATE: You can cross re-signing Zack Kassian and Yannick Weber off the list as they are officially INKED to new contracts with the Canucks as of July 4th. The Canucks are hoping to lock down Tanev and Vey in the upcoming days/weeks.
The ch-ch-changes have arrived in the the form of the NHL draft, trades, free agency, and the re-signing RFAs. There may be more changes to come, but for the time being the waters of change have calmed.
Next up for the Canucks brass: The Canucks 2014 Prospect Camp where they will get a closer look at the young core of depth within the organization. The likes of Dane Fox, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Cole Cassels will be partaking in the camp hoping to make an impression and perhaps lead to a training camp invitation.
The waters of free agency have calmed…but I suspect that there will be MORE changes to come from teams that are currently over the salary cap maximum or below the salary cap minimum. Here’s to enjoying the calm while it lasts and being prepared for any changes that may be around the corner.
As always, until next time, nuck said.