Kesler Gets his Deal

But at what cost.

The Canucks do not have the depth in their organization to afford the loss of Kesler.  Especially after already losing Umberger a few years back.

The price is high at $1.9m, and the total cost of this deal is more than the $1m it will cost the Canucks this season.  It’s $1m per season every year, plus a new contract that other players with 23 points can look to as a comparable in negotiating themselves a new deal.

While some have been quick to point the finger at Bobby Clarke, I think he’s made a strong strategic move to fill a void left by their ailing captain, Keith Primeau. 

And who better to go after than a player struggling to negotiate a contract, has previously shown strong leadership & scoring abilities, and has played in college with on of your own young talents in R.J. Umberger (who also happens to be a prior Canuck first round pick). 

Add to that the offer sheet being double what he was being provided by the Canuck organization and that at $1.9m it’s just enough under the $2m threshold for having to give up a 1st round pick (as it stands, the Canucks compensation would be a second round pick in 2007 from Philadelphia).

The other piece that makes this a great move by Philadelphia is that the Canucks are one of the teams spending close to the salary cap.  Meaning, they have to make a tough decision on whether to keep Kesler or not. 

There is a lot of people saying that 1.9m is too much to offer Kesler and that Clarke was nuts for doing so.  But Clarke had to make the offer strong enough to tempt Vancouver not to accept it.  If it was any lower, it makes the decision that much easier for Vancouver to make.  If Kesler didn’t work out in Philadelphia, they would simply not have qualified him next year. 

While I have previously given Dave Nonis strong accolades for his negotiation techniques with most of his players, Nonis has always dealt harshly with those players lacking arbitration rights.  Ask Cooke & Sopel who gave in quickly to Dave knowing there was little they could do.  Peter Schaeffer (aka Peter Who), didn’t play ball and ended up sitting out and entire NHL year (he did play for TPS Turku in Finland) and awaited a trade in order to get a deal he felt was worth playing for.

It’s this negotiating tactic that has led the Canucks to be sitting in this position today. 

You could also say that their dealings with R.J. Umberger a few years back also played a part in this.  If Umberger made it into a Canucks uniform in the first place (he was only traded away as an entry level contract could not be negotiated), then I highly doubt that Clarke would have made such a strong push for Kesler.  The relationship and history of these two college teammates is what has driven and made this such a great fit and move for Philadelphia.

It’s crazy how the decisions from years past have all of a sudden created a complex mess for the Canuck organization to find it’s way out of.

I’m not sure there are many GM’s that have had to deal with the amount of intricate and in depth issues that Dave has had to in his time as the Canuck GM, but this is yet another one for him to unravel.

The Chief Canuck

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