Funny how things work out some nights. The Canucks have the Sedin twins, just got Alex Burrows back in the lineup and they’re facing an Oilers team that can be tricky. It’s also an Oilers team that Raffi Torres used to play for. Don’t suppose that was motivation for him to get it together tonight for Vancouver, was it? They may not be pretty goals, but Torres’ hat trick sealed the fate of the Oilers tonight in Vancouver’s 4-3 win in Edmonton.
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.
Raffi Torres is on his way to Buffalo, as he’s the latest player to be traded in the final months of his contract. He hasn’t scored more than 20 goals since 2006, but he’s on the doorstep this season with 19 goals in 60 games with Columbus. He’ll give the Sabres some needed scoring punch and give Ryan Miller some support on the other side of the ice.
Of course, the Sabres would prefer to be able to re-sign Torres this summer (you’d think), but perhaps they won’t even have the chance.
The Hockey News scout Mike Seidel is saying that Torres is bragging that there’s no way he’ll sign a contract extension, because he plans on going to Toronto this summer. Talk about a player with a plan in mind. No wonder he was traded.
There’s a good possibility this is just hearsay and isn’t true but if it is, what sort of attitude will he have Buffalo? Is he just biding his time until he is able to return to his hometown?
On Friday, Toronto Maple Leafs property Raffi Torres — still a member of San Jose’s AHL affiliate, despite being traded earlier this week — announced he wouldn’t be playing “professional hockey for the remainder of the season,” in order to rehab from “yet another medical procedure.”
More, from the Barracuda website:
“Up to this point in my career, I have always aggressively pushed my recovery timelines to come back as quickly as possible from injury. However, after this most recent procedure, I want to give myself the proper amount of rest and recovery time so that my body can completely heal. I believe that this approach is the best course of action at this point in order to attempt to resume my career.”
“I want to thank the Sharks and Barracuda organizations, along with all of my teammates, for their support during my time with the Club.”
While he didn’t specify the injury or specific procedure, it’s fair to assume both are in relation to Torres’ troublesome right knee.
Back in early December, Sharsk head coach Peter DeBoer admitted the veteran forward was having issues with a surgically repaired ACL that’s undergone a variety of procedures over the last two years, costing Torres all of the ’14-15 campaign.
Upon being activated following a 41-game suspension for a headshot on Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg, Torres was sent to the AHL on a conditioning stint. His knee “didn’t react well” after his first two games played and, subsequently, appeared in just four more contests for the Barracuda.
Torres, 34, is in the last of a three-year, $6 million deal. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have completed their second trade in less than 24 hours.
Polak is in the final year of his contract. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 29-year-old has a goal, 13 points and a plus-8 rating in 55 games with the Leafs this season. He was previously acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the summer of 2014.
Spaling was in his first year with the Leafs. The 27-year-old was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the Phil Kessel trade that went down over the off-season. Like Polak, he’ll be a UFA at the end of the 2015-16 season.
“Roman and Nick are both quality, character players that will complement and enhance our current roster,” general manager Doug Wilson said, per CSN Bay Area. “Our existing group of players has battled hard and they have earned the right to have every chance to succeed this season.”
The Leafs get a nice return with two second-round draft picks coming their way, but the picks are two and three drafts away.
As part of the swap, Toronto also gets Raffi Torres (don’t expect him to join the Leafs). The Maple Leafs will absorb his cap hit, but he’ll stay with San Jose’s AHL affiliate on loan, per General Fanager.
The Leafs shipped Shawn Matthias to Colorado for a draft pick and a prospect yesterday.