Based on how Day 1 of free agency unfolded, it shouldn't be any surprise that Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis is talking seriously about trying to bring 38-year-old Mats Sundin back for another season.
The kind of eye-popping deals being signed over the course of the day, with the dollar figures and terms being thrown around, simply didn't fit with Gillis's salary cap management model.
With all the blue-chip forwards — both real and imagined — having been signed on Wednesday, it leaves the Canucks to look at other options. And, that's where Sundin comes in.
Some in Canucks Nation will be groaning at this prospect, but take a look at it from Gillis's perspective.
Sundin is a known quantity here, he's immensely respected in the dressing room, he's established some chemistry on the ice, and presumably he'd sign for less than the $5.36 million he received for half a season's work.
And, with the Sedins signed and playing with Alex Burrows, Sundin could slip right back in on the second unit with Ryan Kesler and Pavol Demitra and give the Canucks the same top-six forward set they had the last 30 games of the season. Keep in mind, the Canucks went 23-7-2 over the final 32 games of the regular season — a run that allowed them to catch Calgary and take the Northwest Division crown.
But another drawn-out soap opera similar to last season's Sundin Watch won't go down well with Canucks fans. Sundin dithered through a series of deadlines regarding his playing future for months before signing with Vancouver on Dec. 18.
Sundin's Calgary-based agent, J.P. Barry of CAA Sports, told The Province on Thursday from Stockholm that Sundin is currently on a fishing trip but that he expects to speak with him Friday. Barry said Sundin continues to mull over his playing future, but the agent said he doesn't expect a long process.
"I think this year he wants to make his decision by the end of July," said Barry. "He's getting married at the end of August, so he wants to have all of that out of the way."
Barry said he's already had "multiple calls" from other NHL teams regarding Sundin, but that his free agent client's good experience in Vancouver would give the Canucks a distinct advantage on a new deal.
Gillis spoke with Sundin when he was in Stockholm this week getting the Sedin twins' deal done. The Canucks don't see a few weeks' delay with Sundin's decision as a problem. They'll be looking for other opportunities anyway.
But the reality is that bringing Sundin back would be workable only under two conditions: 1) That Sundin makes up his mind asap whether he is going to continue his NHL career so he can report the first day of training camp in top shape; and 2) He agrees to sign for much less, say, in the $4 million range.
There will be those who'll suggest signing Sundin last season was a mistake. Certainly, his scoring numbers were a disappointment. He finished the regular season with nine goals and 28 points in 41 games. This included scoring just three times in the final 29 games.
More disconcerting, Sundin never really seemed to find his skating legs as he attempted to play himself into game shape.
But Sundin's play came on in the final month of the season and despite a knee injury that forced him to miss the final two games of the Canucks' first round series with St. Louis, Sundin was one of Vancouver's better players against Chicago, with four points (2-2) in the last two games and seven (2-5) in the six game series.
Yes, he's a year older, but how much better would Sundin be if he's able to start the season with everyone else and not playing perpetual catch-up?
We may be about to find out.