Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 7/2/12

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 21: Jason Garrison #52 of the Florida Panthers skates during the game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on January 21, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Happy Canada Day…finally

Has Vancouver‘s Mike Gillis made another smart signing, or is the contract too good to be true?

General Manager Gillis made the most of the opening day of NHL free agency, signing former Florida Panthers defenceman Jason Garrison to a six-year $4.6 million dollar deal on Sunday.

With Justin Schultz headed to Edmonton, Sami Salo signing with Tampa Bay and Aaron Rome landing in Dallas, Garrison comes at a steep price for the Canucks after playing only two solid seasons in Sunrise.

The contract makes Garrison the highest paid defenceman on Vancouver’s roster, matching Kevin Bieksa’s annual cap hit of $4.6 million.

That’s one hell of a raise after playing for just $675,000 over the last two seasons.

Only Ryan Kesler ($30 mil), Roberto Luongo ($64 mil) and the Sedin twins ($30.5 mil) have had more money committed on their current contracts.

Many have inferred Garrison agreed to take a “hometown discount,” with the Canucks, however I find $27.6 million a considerable amount of money to commit to a player with only two full NHL seasons under his belt.

If anything, the Canucks worked with Garrison to arrange a long-term discount, allowing for a more acceptable cap-hit.

Only Scott Howson would be crazy enough to give Garrison six million per season. That’s Sedin money.

The Canucks’ Canada Day acquisition is expected to play alongside Alex Edler on Vancouver’s second defensive pairing to start the year, allowing Alain Vigneault to keep together the previously used pairings of Bieksa-Hamhuis and Ballard-Tanev.

The Canucks’ newest acquisition Jason Garrison is expected to play alongside Edler…

In addition to a steady diet of quality minutes, Garrison will be utilized on the power play after putting up 9 power play goals last year for the Panthers.

A “late bloomer,” at first glance, Garrison took his time to craft his game from the blue line after playing forward up to the age of 18 when he joined the Nanaimo Clippers.

Since slipping back to defense the undrafted 27 year-old has kept a balance to his game, generating scoring from the blue line alongside former defensive partner Brian Campbell.

Campbell finished last season tied for second in scoring among defensemen while his defensive partner finished third in goals scored from the blue line.

As noted by Cam Charron at Backhand Shelf, Garrison isn’t expected to match his career totals from the 2012 season, however following a hefty pay raise the White Rock native does have some rather large skates to fill.

In a cap-oriented NHL, the Canucks’ top earner on the blue line certainly has something to prove playing in a hockey hotbed he once called home.

If Garrison continues to grow in a hardcore hockey market, a six-year signing could prove to be a masterstroke from Mike Gillis.

On the other hand, if a change of scenery sees Garrison regress with the Canucks, the outlook in Vancouver will be more depressing than rain in July.

Could the Canucks afford for another skater from Sunrise to diminish after getting the call from Vancouver’s faux-farm team?

Let’s hope we never find out.

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© Kevin Vanstone for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Alex Edler, BC, Brian Campbell, Canucks, Canucks Blog, Canucks headlines, CapGeek.com, Dan Hamhuis, Free agents, jason garrison, Kevin Bieksa, NHL Free Agency, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Sami Salo, University of Minnesota Duluth, vancouver, Vancouver Canucks News, White Rock

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