For Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff, this is the easy part. They both want to stay in Vancouver, and you don't have to dig too deep to understand why. The city is beautiful. It's a hockey-mad market. As for their work environment, the Canucks not only have a chance to win the Stanley Cup this season, but look poised to contend for the next three to four seasons. That, at least, is the easy part. The more difficult aspect concerns the salary cap and the complications it presents. In a perfect world, they both merit hefty raises. In a perfect world, they'd sign long-term deals and be part of the Canucks' glorious future. But in the salary-cap world, there are 49 other considerations in play, and what Bieksa and Ehrhoff deserve ranks far down on that list. "There are scenarios under which both players would fit under the cap," says Laurence Gilman, the Canucks assistant general manager who's handled the team's payroll expertly over the last three seasons. And pretty much every one of those scenarios involves both players taking under market value to stay in Vancouver. With the Western final starting on Sunday evening, the contractual situation of the two Canucks' defencemen isn't exactly a talking point of the Vancouver-San Jose series. But this is also one of those issues that is always around a team, particularly a team like the Canucks where a championship or championships may be decided by a single personnel decision. In this case, the organization is staring at two big decisions. Bieksa has emerged as a two-way defenceman who can play a shutdown role while contributing offensively, and if you think those guys grow on trees, look around the league. Ehrhoff, for his part, finished seventh among defencemen in scoring and helped trigger the NHL's top-rated power play. Check those trees again. There aren't a lot of Ehrhoffs growing on them, either.
Bieksa, Ehrhoff have a decision to make
Vancouver Province | May 15