Earlier today, News 1130 terrified Canucks fans with the possibility that the Canucks might not re-sign the beloved Alex Burrows. It must have terrified Burrows too, since only 3 hours later, the Canucks signed Burrows to a 4-year contract extension worth a total of $18 million, according to reports from Dan Murphy on Twitter.
Burrows has played his entire career for the Canucks and has shown a lot of loyalty to the team that gave him his shot in the NHL. Coming off a 28-goal, 51-point season in 2008-09, Burrows gave the Canucks a hometown discount, signing for 4 years at $2-million per year. He rewarded the Canucks by becoming one of the best bang for the buck players in the NHL, scoring 89 goals over the first three years of that contract.
It wasn’t just the quantity of goals, however, it was the quality. Burrows scored important goals for the Canucks, none bigger than his game 7 overtime gamewinner in round one of the 2011 playoffs, finally sending the Canucks past the Blackhawks after being bounced by them in the previous two years. It was that tendency that endeared him the most to Canucks fans.
That’s why it was frightening to hear his agent drop comparisons to Patrick Sharp, a player making just short of $6-million per season, and that Burrows’ camp was seeking a 6-year deal. All morning we were hearing that Gillis and Burrows weren’t close to a deal, with the biggest issue being term.
So, to find out that the contract was just for 4-years at $4.5 million per year is a relief and it has to be considered a win for Mike Gillis. Signing Burrows to an extension isn’t just a PR win, it’s a win on the ice as well. Burrows is a versatile player able to play on any line, but it’s his chemistry with the Sedins that makes him most valuable to the Canucks.
While the Sedins have proven to be productive with almost any winger capable of making contact with a saucer pass, Burrows has developed into a vital part of the Sedins cycle game. The closest comparable to Burrows with the Sedins was Anson Carter, and he only managed one good season with them before bolting for a bigger contract and ending up out of the NHL. Burrows, to his credit, recognized that playing with the Sedins was a pretty ideal place to be, signing for well below market value three years ago.
Back then, Burrows needed the Canucks and the Sedins. This time around, it could be argued that the Canucks need Burrows far more than Burrows needs the Canucks. In the current market, Burrows could easily find a team willing to give him a longer-term contract for more money. Scott Hartnell signed for 6 years at $4.75 million per year, arguably the closest comparable for Burrows.
Finding a winger as compatible with the Sedins as Burrows? That’s a lot more difficult. Players that seemed to make perfect sense in the past failed to pan out (see: Pyatt, Taylor and Bernier, Steve). Many fans are hoping to see Shane Doan sign with the Canucks and see him as a potential Sedin winger, but at his age and downward-trending offensive production, he’s likely a better fit with the second or third lines if he does indeed sign. Even Mikael Samuelsson wasn’t as consistent as Burrows alongside the twins.
At the very least, Canucks fans should be thrilled that Burrows will still be here for another 5 years. Very few players work as hard as he does night-in and night-out. I have a feeling that $4.5 million will seem like a steal.Tags: Alex Burrows, Burrows