In one fell swoop, it appears that the Vancouver Canucks are both improving their third and fourth line depth while also tapping out of the hunt to re-sign defenseman Willie Mitchell. Reports early this morning, including a confirmation of sorts from Sportsnet’s Darren Millard, indicate that the Canucks will sign free agent forward Raffi Torres to a one-year $1 million contract.
Adding Torres gives the Canucks an instantly usable player on their third line on the left wing and a guy that will fit into coach Alain Vigneault’s system immediately. Torres is a tenacious checker and a guy that tends to rub everyone the wrong way while finding ways to put the puck in the net. He’s the precise sort of player the Canucks enjoy. Torres finished last year in Buffalo after being traded by the Blue Jackets and both his and the Sabres seasons ended with a thud.
The effect this has on the Canucks budget-wise is that this now puts the Canucks nearly $4 million over the salary cap. They’ve been rumored to be moving defenseman Kevin Bieksa who is making $3.75 million this season, but if they were hoping that Bieksa alone would clear enough salary to bring aboard Mitchell, they’ll be mistaken. Getting rid of Bieksa and his contract would put the Canucks about $91,000 under the cap. Unless the Canucks are getting some kind of miracle deal from Willie Mitchell, it seems highly unlikely they’ll be bringing him back.
As it is, opportunities with San Jose, Los Angeles and Washington are still out there for Mitchell and with Vancouver making the move to get Torres, it’s possible that they know that Mitchell isn’t coming back already.