The subject line could also be: "How Dave Nonis is a frigging genius."
I'm curious to see the input of all of you guys here, but I got to thinking. The way I see it, there are two ways to build a consistently competitive team in the salary cap era of the NHL:
1. By getting major contributions from young, underpaid players.
For the time being, the Canucks can't hope to contend in this way. Their only real blue-chip prospect maybe ready to contribute is Bourdon, and Kesler can't be classed now as underpaid in any way. If you compare the contributions of the Canucks' young players to that of other teams around the league, the Canucks would be near the bottom.
The reason for this, at least in recent years, is twofold. One, the team has been relatively good for the past 6 or so years, so they haven't really been able to draft top-10 prospects. Two, Burke traded away plenty of prospects during his tenure.
In summary, unless the Canucks want to totally commit to rebuilding (which they won't, nor shouldn't do), then this paradigm of winning doesn't seem to be the best route at the moment. Now this is obviously not to say that Vancouver should give up on its farm system or anything like that, but just that this isn't their best chance to contend in the near future.
So the second way to build, in my humble opinion is
2. Pay for the absolute best goalie money can buy and load up on defensive defenseman.
Before getting flamed for neglecting to mention scoring, hear me out. Not to oversimplify, but if a team with a bunch of scorers has a great season, it usually means that some, if not most, of their scorers had great years. Now most of these players will be free agents (both restricted and unrestricted) after the season and the team will have several players looking for big raises. If they were anywhere near the cap the year before, they simply won't be able to pay and keep everyone (as we've seen this past offseason). The key to all of this is that players are generally paid according to offensive statistics. You generally don't see Selke candidates getting max contracts; they may be respected and get good money, but not max money. Now who's to say that a forward who scores 50 goals is more valuable than a player who prevents 50? It all comes down to teams overpaying for offensive contributions to victories and underpaying for defensive ones. EXCEPT, in the case of goalies, but with a goalie you only have to pay one player. Am I making any sense here?
Anyway, I think that, in the long run, Nonis has it right. Play a defensive style and keep Luongo until he retires, paying him all of the money he wants. Put good defensive defenseman in front of him, pay up to the cap with a few players who can score goals. But the key here is that if you're playing a defensive style, the offensive players won't put up great numbers, even if they're great players. This reduces the money you'll have to pay for them.
I mean it makes sense. Don't you kind of ever hope when you're watching a game in which the Canucks are up a few goals late that one of the players whose contracts are coming up don't get the empty netters? It's okay if Ohlund does, for example, because he's locked up and not paid for his offense anyway, but not if Carter did last season.
Sorry for the length of the post, and I'm curious to hear what you all think....