Friday, August 28, 2009

Canucks Sign Mathieu Schneider and Acquire Lukowich & Ehrhoff

The Vancouver Canucks have signed free agent defenseman Mathieu Schneider and have traded Daniel Rahimi and Patrick White to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Brad Lukowich and Christian Ehrhoff.

The backend just got a whole lot better. More to come later...

... Well, today was certainly a big day for Canuck fans. After a quiet summer all of a sudden the Canucks find themselves with 3 new defensemen in one day.

Mathieu Schneider
Schneider has reportedly signed a 1 year deal for $1.5m and he also told his agent that Vancouver was the only place he wanted to play and never entertained offers from other teams. You have to like the fact that he wanted to come here. At 40 years old, it's hard to judge what kind of an impact Schneider will have, but he is sure to improve the Canucks power play. Last season, split between Montreal and Atlanta, Schneider had 32 pts in 67 games. Considering the new found depth on defense I would expect Schneider to slot in on the third pairing and on the power play, likely playing less than 15 min per game at even strength, he will also see some time up in the press box (I highly doubt he plays more than 65-70 games).
Christian Ehrhoff
I honestly don't know too much about Ehrhoff as I haven't seen him play all that much, but from reading various scouting reports and opinions (and of course looking at the numbers) he looks like a top 4 guy who has the potential to improve. At 27 he should be entering his prime and will add some offense to the backend. Like all offensive defensemen there are question marks surrounding his defensive game, but we'll have to wait and see how he adjusts to the Canucks system. With a $3.1m cap hit for the next two seasons the Canucks will be depending on Ehrhoff to produce. After being buried behind Rob Blake and Dan Boyle, Ehrhoff will likely have a better opportunity in Vancouver.
Brad Lukowich
My first thought is that it will be interesting to see how Lukowich will fit in to the Canucks lineup. At a $1.5m cap hit, Lukowich will have to really earn a roster spot as a #7/8 guy. At the moment I have a hard time seeing him beat out Shane O'Brien, but that assumes a healthy defense coming out of the pre-season (which is unlikely). Lukowich will bring some much needed experience (specifically Stanley Cup experience) and is still only 33 years old. He has his work cut out for him, but he is a nice addition to the depth chart.

As for the trade and the departing players, this is clearly a steal for Vancouver and a salary dump for San Jose. Patrick White has had a disappointing (to say the least) University career, but I wouldn't quite write him off yet. While he looks like a bust, an NHL career isn't out of the question. Daniel Rahimi is a player who might turn in to a third pairing, stay at home defenseman, but doesn't look like a significant asset. Basically the Canucks gave up two prospects from the prior regime who are no longer in their plans. In return they received a top 4 defenseman and a solid veteran. Can't argue with that.

Training camp just got a whole lot more interesting. Is there another trade in the works (Demitra?), will the Canucks go with 8 defensemen? The fun is just beginning as another season is just around the corner...