The possibility of yet another NHL lockout isn’t preventing the Vancouver Canucks from attempting to re-sign two of their notable players.
According to a report by Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun, assistant GM Laurence Gilman confirmed the club had opened preliminary discussions with the agent for right winger Alexandre Burrows, who’s entering the final season a four-year contract and eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency.
Ziemer suggested Burrows’ numbers – four straight seasons of 25-plus goals, including a career-best 35-goal, 67-point effort in 2009-10 – put him in line for a raise to perhaps $4 million per season, drawing comparisons to Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds ($4 million per season starting in 2013-14), Detroit’s Johan Franzen ($4 million per) and the New York Rangers’ Ryan Callahan ($4.3 million per).
Gilman also said the club will likely soon open talks with defenseman Alexander Edler, who, like Burrows, is a pending UFA in line for a significant raise (He’ll make 3.3 million this year). It remains to be seen, however, if he’ll earn more than Kevin Bieksa and new Canuck Jason Garrison, both drawing $4.6 million per.
It may seem odd the Canucks would be talking contract extension with Burrows and Edler with the collective bargaining agreement up in the air, but there’s a rationale for doing so now for both sides.
From the Canucks point of view, it gets two of their better players under long-term contract without having to scramble later under the constraints of a new CBA, especially if more than half the season is lost to labor strife.
For Burrows and Edler, it’s an opportunity to get new contracts done before a new CBA is implemented, thus providing an opportunity for a better deal – especially if salaries are rolled back again and contract limits are implemented – than they might get under a new labor agreement.
Speculation also still persists over when the Canucks will trade goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sunweighed in on the matter, claiming Luongo wants to return to the Florida Panthers, but the Canucks’ asking price was still more than the Panthers are willing to pay.
Simmons didn’t elaborate as to what that might be, but it is widely believed the Canucks want promising 20-year-old center Nick Bjugstad, a player Panthers are reticent to let go, as part of the return. Simmonds believes Luongo will be moved at some point, but speculated if it would be to Florida or Toronto.
Many Canucks fans are wondering why it’s taking so long to get a Luongo deal done, feeling it would be best just to move him now and end the uncertainty. But the fact remains the Canucks are in no hurry to move ‘Bobby Lu.’ It’s only late August and training camp (if it opens on time) doesn’t begin until mid-September, so there’s no pressing need to get a deal done now.
Luongo’s no-trade clause also factors in, giving him final say over where he can be dealt.
A lockout would provide the Canucks even more time to consider their options and potentially get a better offer once the league returns to action.
Gilman also commented on the Canucks’ interest in UFA right winger Shane Doan, noting they had “tendered an offer” but were waiting while he considers his options.
Doan, of course, would like to re-sign with the Phoenix Coyotes, but he’s still awaiting word - along with the rest of the NHL - if sale of the club to prospective buyer Greg Jamison will go through. If not, Doan will consider playing elsewhere.
The Canucks aren’t the only Canadian team with interest in Doan, as the Montreal Canadiens contacted his agent as well. Doan travelled to Vancouver earlier this month to meet with Canucks management, but he’s yet to do so with the Canadiens. Habs GM Marc Bergevin recently dismissed rumors Doan had travelled to Montreal, claiming if the Coyotes captain had done so, he hadn’t contacted the Canadiens.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.