Canucks in good shape for Mats

BARRY MCDONALD, 24 HOURS VANCOUVER

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

You should be feeling pretty good as a Vancouver Canucks fan right now.

They are 29 games into the season, having played 18 of those games on the road. They have only lost 10 games in regulation. They have survived nearly three weeks without their meal ticket. And they are still in the hunt for Mats Sundin.

After Saturday's game in Edmonton, Vancouver will have a chance to make hay at home. Between this Sunday and Feb. 7, the Canucks play 22 games - 17 of those at home.

The point is simply this: This team has exceeded expectations so far, and they have done so with the odds, injuries and schedule stacked against them.

Did you really think they would be in the penthouse of the Northwest Division 29 games into the season? And what now?

Well, how would you like to see Sundin in a Vancouver uniform? Imagine the possibilities. With all the challenges they have overcome so far, to fashion the record they have despite playing two-thirds of their games on the road, to stay afloat despite the absence of Luongo ... how good could they be with a future Hall of Famer in their midst?

The fact that Vancouver remains in the hunt is encouraging enough. There is no way Sundin would have maintained his interest in the Canucks had they found themselves in the bottom half of the Western Conference standings. This is a player, used to the Eastern time zone, and the novelty of frequent flyer points has eroded somewhat.

But now he can look at the Canucks, with 30 of their final 52 games at home, boasting the best goaltender on the planet, and view this location as being pretty attractive.

Not that there aren't other options. Chicago is one, with a young team getting very good, very quickly.

Montreal is another, as are the Rangers. All of these teams have something in common. They are good with reasonable chances at making some noise in the playoffs. They also have something else in common: Very little, or virtually no salary cap room.

That is not an issue here in Vancouver.

The Canucks' financial house is in order, and positioned to accommodate Sundin.

They have the financial way, and the will, to woo him west.

Stay tuned.


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