Canucks and Beyond

Sundin Dollars & Common Sense

10/31/2008 at 11:31pm EDT

Thursday in Los Angeles, Mats Sundinattended the Canucks/Kings game in the company of his agent, along with Vancouver’s GM Mike Gillis. Gillis has professed the interaction didn’t include any noteworthy business talk, but that doesn’t mean the NHL in general isn’t a bit intrigued.

Whether Sundin were to join the Canucks or not is a contentious issue—certainly, there are plenty who still feel the Leafs are front-runners for his services. But whether Canucks fans want or don’t want Sundin to join their favorite team, is there anyone that thinks that available dollars is actually the deciding issue for the team?

Matthew Sekeres at the Globe & Mail has the notion that it is:

First of all, the Canucks no longer have $10-million (all figures U.S.) in available cap space, it’s closer to $8.8-million, so their much-discussed eight-figure offer to Sundin has to be amended. Also, because the Canucks are nearly one 1/8 through their season, that must be reflected in the new offer.

But there’s another complication as well. Because Sundin has dithered for so long—remember that the $10-million offer was tabled on July 1—not only would Vancouver have to reduce the compensation it was willing to give Sundin, it must also feel him out on whether he agrees with taking less and allowing the Canucks to make some other moves later this season.

If you ask me (which you didn’t, but hey, what the hell…) whether Sundin takes a contract with the Canucks or anyone else, money isn’t the primary issue; the ability to contend for a successful season, as well as play in a city that he wants to live in, are probably paramount issues in his mind. And that means I’d be putting most of my bets on his playing for the New York Rangers or the Montreal Canadiens by the end of November.

But obviously this is The Real World, too. Money is also relevant and no doubt a big part of how Vancouver got his attention.

Yet money is by no means the only issue for the guy, or he would be playing for the team already.

The season may be 1/8th over but Sundin isn’t exactly ready to return to the NHL by the next game on the schedule. So I submit that you can count on at least 20% of the season being gone by the time Sundin can play a game— missing 16.4 games at that point—and so pro-rating the Canucks $10 million offer would drop the dollars down to $8 million.

Assuming that Sundin may need even more time to prepare—and that he’d be willing to concede the fact that the team does need to preserve some salary cap space (which is in his interest, too, if he wants to find success with the club) I think it’s possible that $7.5 million is closer to the dollar amount he’d ultimately settle on from the team. And less than that if he doesn’t return to the league for 3-4 more weeks.

In such a scenario, that would leave the Canucks with some cash reserves, plus—if you still wish to assume that money is everything to Sundin—give him the largest possible payout that any team is liable to offer him for a shortened season.

Again, I’m not arguing that the Canucks should sign Sundin, just that whether they do or not isn’t particularly a question of money.

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