As you are no doubt already aware, Mats Sundin has signed with the Canucks for the remainder of the 2008-2009 season.
Unfortunately, I was tied up playing Santa Claus for these lovely ladies at their show in Toronto last night and the co-author of this blog was happily celebrating his anniversary. Neither of us is equipped with BlackBerries or anything, so suffice it to say that we are a little late on the draw when it comes to Sundin.
Since a lot of people have already weighed in on the transaction, let me get down to business and identify what I think are the positives and potential negatives associated with Sundin coming to Vancouver.
- The addition of a proven point-a-game player like Sundin, even at his age, gives the Canucks two bona fide scoring lines. As I have been at pains to point out, the Canucks have had no trouble scoring this season (the team is currently ninth overall in goals-per-game, with a ratio of 3.03). Sundin, you would imagine, will only further solidify the Canucks’ scoring credentials.
- One area of glaring weakness for the Canucks this season has been the power play. Currently 16th overall at 18.6 per cent, the Canucks will be helped immensely by a player such as Sundin, who is a proven power play producer.
- The addition of Sundin gives the Canucks the top-line centre the team has sorely lacked in recent years.
- With fellow Swedes Mattias Ohlund, the Sedin twins, and Alexander Edler already on the roster, and former Leaf teammate – and linemate – Kyle Wellwood playing in Vancouver, Sundin should integrate into the dressing room well (see below for my caveat).
- Mike Gillis’s resolve to wait for the player he thought would make this team a legitimate contender further persuades me that the man has a fully considered plan in place that he is unwaveringly committed to, and that he is not going to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants GM.
- I can’t help but wonder, notwithstanding Gillis’s stoic claims to the contrary, that Sundin chose to come to Vancouver ultimately because his preferred team, the New York Rangers, could not make room for him. The fact he only signed a one-year deal – and not the two-year deal on the table from the Canucks initially – lends some credence to this notion.
- If my concern about Sundin’s motivation is valid, then I also wonder how committed he will be to the cause in Vancouver. Admittedly, I don’t have the impression (based on Sundin’s history) that he is a man out to collect paycheques, but the possibility exists that he might be here mainly for the money.
- I wonder how well the dressing room will adjust to a player walking into the team as the putative ‘star’ player, especially since it appears that the Canucks are such a tight-knit team this season. (Let’s not forget that the last time the Canucks tried something like this – cough – it was a spectacular failure and wreaked havoc in the dressing room.)
- The Sundin deal is only for the remainder of this season. If it doesn’t work out, no harm done – Sundin leaves after the season and the Canucks have given up nothing except cap space.
- Sundinhas a reputation for being an amiable – if sometimes quiet – member of the dressing room with the Leafs. I can’t imagine that his personality could unleash the terror that, say, Messier’s did after he arrived.
- Sundin wears the label of someone who ‘hasn’t won anything’ (in the NHL) around his neck like an anchor. That may be motivation enough to ensure that Sundin is a valuable asset come playoff time.
On the whole, I think the positives outweigh the potential negatives by a significant margin.
I, for one, can’t wait to see Sundin in a Canucks uniform. (I also have all the more reason now to find myself some tickets on Ebay for the Canucks’ visit to the Air Canada Centre in February.)