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Lack of Arbitration, Jannik Hansen, and the Latest on the Canucks

NHL rumors
Summer time can be very quiet in the hockey world, but that does not always translate into a lack of intriguing story lines. I for one stay very interested in the player movements and drama if you will during the NHL off-season. Whether it's trade rumors, actual trades, signings, mass speculation, selection of new staff, and more recently is that of the player tweet. It's a fun time to sit around in the sun with a fellow fan and talk about what could be in the coming NHL season. Being an avid Vancouver Canucks fan I follow them quite closely in the days of July and August, so I will delve into that as usual but there has been an unprecedented trend this summer in regards to the lack of actual arbitration hearings taking place.

Usually a restricted free agent and their team are at a crossroads in their negotiations and need a third party to step in and make a decision for them once the cases have been presented and argued. This summer not a single case has gone that far. An agreement has been reached within days of that hearing, and I wonder why that is. In the case of Vancouver's Jannik Hansen, he was undoubtedly a fundamental piece of the Canucks' run to the Stanley Cup Finals this past June so getting him signed was a high priority. Funnily enough for the "Great Dane" is that he was in this exact position last summer where he did actually go to arbitration with Vancouver, and was awarded a one year deal worth $800,000. This time around he had a very productive season in his rear view, which had a great impact on why the third party hearing was deemed unnecessary. If the meeting had taken place, Hansen might have been awarded for greater compensation after proving his worth to the core of the Canucks, and this could not have been detrimental to Mike Gillis' plan of cap friendly contracts. Albeit, a smaller scale contract compared to others.
This past Thursday Hansen signed a three year contract with Vancouver (near doubling his old salary at a cap hit of 1.35 million) just a day before his scheduled hearing. It's quite interesting that it went this far, being that it was such a great deal for both sides. Jannik took a slight discount in the cap hit department, while Vancouver conceded to his desires of wanting a multi-year deal. Everyone wins. Now, would it not be convenient if that was the case in every arbitration scenerio? Well, this summer it has been. Dubinksy, Callahan, Parise, Cogliano, Wheeler, and Teddy Purcell are just a few examples of players who signed prior to their hearings. It's incredible that not a single one has gone the distance. I wonder if past experiences have deterred players and their teams from embracing such a situation. After all, with stories leaking out in the past of harsh grievances being aired in these meetings, I don't blame either side from attempting to avoid such an uncomfortable and possibly unproductive situation. Nevertheless, there are two significant hearings looming and that is for Drew Doughty and Shea Weber. Arguably two of the best defensemen in the game, they are both due for a huge raise and it is assumed that the nature of one contract will have a tremendous impact on the other . Arbitration will be over by the end of the week, are we actually going to witness a hearing?

Now, on to the Canucks. I want to say this, the sting of your home team losing in game 7 does heal slowly over time. Keyword, slowly. Visiting sports websites throughout the summer and seeing videos of players (who beat your team in the finals) parading around their hometown does not help the healing process. That aside, not an overwhelming amount of activity on the Canucks front in the last month. However, this morning (after over a week of speculation) the team finally made it official by naming Craig Mactavish the new coach of their AHL affiliate in Chicago. Aside from that, last week Gillis bolstered the bottom six corps by adding the 6'5 215 pound Byron Bitz, who can serve as a deterrent from players taking liberties with the Sedins. That's my hope at least. It was also rumored that Vancouver was on the verge of signing another 6'5 mountain in Brad Winchester. He is more of a fighter which could be beneficial for the team since accusations of them being too soft were made throughout the playoffs. As for the rest of the team, it looks very much like the one of last year and appears poised for another strong performance. However, with a full roster and 2.5 million in cap space remaining, one must think that Gillis is not done yet. After all, this is still a team that lost in the finals, so making adjustments and tweaks are never a bad idea.

Thanks for reading and please visit my website http://hockeywithme.com for more NHL chit chat and analysis on the Vancouver Canucks.

By: Michael Elias

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