Canucks hand Jason Garrison a splashy six-year, $27.6M contract

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Some teams just always seem to make deals with each other. Many call the Los Angeles Kings the “Philadelphia Flyers West,” for example. It might be time to call the Vancouver Canucks “Florida Panthers North” because they perpetually add Cats to the mix. This one’s a big deal, too; Darren Dreger reports that the Canucks signed former Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison to a six-year, $27.6 million deal.

If you hate math like most hockey writers do, here’s the annual cap hit: $4.6 million.

A matter of perception

Many view Garrison’s deal as a “hometown discount.” Dan Hamhuis took a similar one for $4.5 million, as well, although others might make more parallels to the deal that brought (former Panther) Keith Ballard to the team for $4.2 million per season.

The most alarming part, to me, is the fact that Garrison could very well be a “contract year” guy. He’s an undrafted 27-year-old blueliner who’s in his third season of semi-regular action. He played one game in 2008-09, 39 in 2009-10 and then 73 in 2010-11 and 77 in 2011-12. His 33 points and wicked slap shot are no-doubt enticing, especially in a weak market for D, but the fact that he has such a small sample size of work at a fairly old age should raise some red flags.

Then again, the Canucks lost some depth on defense with Sami Salo and Aaron Rome leaving town, so Garrison ranks as more of a “need” than expected and could provide a considerable upgrade. In a summer where the team is probably going to roll the dice with Roberto Luongo and already did so by committing to Cory Schneider, this certainly fits the theme of bold moves. In fact, he could be an enormous upgrade if the talk about his strong defensive work is justified.

So will it work out or will Garrison be a hard-shooting sequel to Ballard?