Finally the Vancouver Canucks made major movement on opening day of the NHL’s 2012 free agency (happy belated Canada Day by the way!). They landed the highest profile free agent out of all seven Canadian franchises when they inked local product Jason Garrison.
The Canucks lost veteran blue-liners Sami Salo to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Aaron Rome to the Dallas Stars earlier in the day, but rebounded to sign the 27-year-old Garrison of White Rock, British Columbia. Canucks GM Mike Gillis categorized it with a winning presence in Garrison rather than losing budding blueliner, also BC native, Justin Schultz to the Edmonton Oilers.
Garrison’s new six-year contract has a salary of $4.6 million US, the same as veteran Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa and slightly more than Dan Hamhuis.
Most likely he will be joining Alexander Edler on the second line, and with his noted slap shot will prove to be effective on the power play.
Garrison is no stranger to the Canucks roster, and upon arrival the dressing room will be more of a familiarity. Aside from being teammates with Mason Raymond at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Garrison played with David Booth, Keith Ballard and Chris Higgins in Florida.
“From Day 1 when we turned pro, we’ve chatted about everything,” said Garrison about former college teammate Mason Raymond. “But you talk to anybody and there’s not one bad thing said [about the Vancouver Canucks organization]. It’s a first class organization with management, coaches and players. I’m just really looking forward to it.”
The Canucks are still trying to solve the dilemma of having two no. 1 goalies after last season’s emergence of Cory Schneider; however Luongo said he will not stand in their way. Just 24 hours prior to the deal with Garrison the Canucks signed backup goalie to Roberto Luongo for three years. Despite rumours of Luongo making visits to Toronto and Florida, we have yet to hear about Luongo’s future with a remaining decade in his 12-year, $64-million contract.
After a long playoff run in 2011 followed by a dismal defeat by the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in 2012, fans are already looking forward to having some more hometown talent on the ice and seeing if once backup goalie Schneider can fill outgoing goalie Roberto Luongo’s role between the pipes. Is it October yet?