The Vancouver Canucks gave their fans a reason to renew today as ever popular captain Markus Naslund signed up for three more years on Wednesday. Naslund had alarmed the Canucks faithful the last little while with ruminations of a return to Sweden, lately he'd been thinking out loud about a chance to join up with fellow Swede Peter Forsberg. A possibility that probably wouldn't have worked in Vancouver due to the salary cap mathematics.
However, in the end, the Naslund/Forsberg tandem became but a beer league drafters dream and the Canuck's captain returned to the city which has adopted him these last few years. With a chance to pick up where they left off and definite shot at a run for the Stanley Cup Naslund most likely realized that his chance to return to Sweden with a Stanley Cup ring will be best achieved from his work at GM Place.
For the Canucks it sends a message to their fans that they understand the need to keep the core group of players together to return to those wild days of a few years ago when expectations of a Stanley Cup run were quite high. For new GM Dave Nonis the Naslund signing was a must, had Naslund left the Canuck organization the hue and cry from the fans would taint his stewardship for years, with the very popular Brian Burke long deposed as GM and now relocated to Anaheim, this team is very much Nonis' to mold. Losing a high caliber and popular Naslund would definitely not have gotten him off on the right foot with his season ticket base.
With Naslund back in the fold and set to retire as a Canuck there probably won't be much more action on the Canuck's front. They need to learn the fate of Todd Bertuzzi, a situation which is expected to resolve itself by the end of this week. Other than that issue the Canucks seem content to go with the team they have. Though there will be a need for a defensive addition with the trading of Brent Sopel to the Islanders and the loss of Marek Malik to the Rangers.
With that need still there, expect Nonis to try and find someone to line up with current blueliners Jovanovski, Salo Allen and Ohlund. But his first major task has been completed successfully, Naslund is back where he wanted to be and place he missed during his extended vacation. If the Canucks make no other moves this month, getting Naslund to return will be more than enough for British Columbia's hockey fans.