Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dan is the Man - 2 Years $5 Million

Reports indicate that the Dan Cloutier contract is a two year deal for $5 million.

Upon hearing the dollar figure my first thought was why the second year? I'm of the opinion that the Canucks only option was to go with Cloutier for this season and then make the decision to move in another direction or not. There were simply no guaranteed upgrades available this off-season, period. Going with Cloutier for this season was the best option for Dave Nonis.

That said, Cloutier obviously has serious question marks when it comes to playoff hockey. Unfortunately for Cloutier, the questions were not answered in the Calgary series. Cloutier played very well right up until the injury, an injury which IMO had nothing to do with Cloutier's durability or "injury proneness". It was simply bad luck.

Due to Cloutier's playoff issues I have to question the wisdom of giving Cloutier a second year. While the money is not bad, the second year was not necessary in order to have Cloutier under contract for this season. The Canucks could have signed him for his qualifying offer of $2,340,000 and re-evaluated the situation next year.

So why the second year?

I can come up with a few reasons. The first is that if Dan Cloutier has another great regular season and adds a good run in the playoffs, say to the conference finals, Cloutier will be a bargain at $2.5m. The second is that Dan has continually been on one year contracts. It can't be easy playing year to year, especially under the scrutiny he finds in Vancouver. Perhaps the added security of an extra year will take some of the pressure off. Finally, another reason is that Alex Auld failed to demonstrate that he is close to being ready for an every day job in the NHL.

I'm sure the majority opinion of Vancouver fans is that they do not like this deal. I can see why they won't like it, but overall I don't have too much of a problem with it. The money is fine and while the second year is a risk, it's not going to cripple the franchise and it could turn out to be a bargain.

The Canucks have more goaltending depth than they have ever had. With Alex Auld, Cory Schneider, Julien Ellis and 2005 draft pick Alexander Vincent, there should be a number one goalie coming down the pipe. In the meantime Cloutier will have the chance to prove his critics wrong.

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