By Jeff Paterson
Forget Sami Salo
for the time being, the biggest question facing the Canucks right now is how are they going to be able to fit Jeff Cowan under next year's salary cap?
Sign him and sign him now before this gets completely ridiculous. I mean, c'mon, just think how much a high-scoring, game-changing fan favourite will be able to command on the open market. At the rate he's going, he'll be able to name his price -- and get a no-waivers clause as well.
The Canucks and their fans know it, the Coyotes and Wild saw it firsthand and Tuesday night the Tampa Bay Lightning was the latest to learn the lesson the hard way - there's simply no stopping Jeff Cowan.
In this month of March, 175 National Hockey League players have scored at least one goal. Fifty eight of those players have scored at least two goals this month and eight have found the back of the net three times already in the third month of the year.
But only one player, only one force has been so potent, has struck with such vengeance, yes, just one man has scored five times in this month of March - oh, I'm well aware we're only seven days into the month, but who's counting? His offensive outburst is so magnanimous that no one in the best hockey league in the world is within a goal of his production this month. Start engraving the trophy now - Jeff Cowan, player of the month for March 2007. Daniel Sedin
, Marian Gaborik, Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa have all scored three times this month. Jeff Cowan has five.
Teemu Selanne, Martin St. Louis, Alexander Ovechkin, Simon Gagne and Sidney Crosby may have combined for 179 goals on the season. So far this month they've combined for five - or a Cowan, as I like to call it.
Hockey can be a strange game, and Jeff Cowan's three-game-stardom is clearly the latest and greatest example of that. The guy came into the month without a goal all season and now has five goals on 10 shots, four goals on his last seven shots, is +5 with two hits and a fight for good measure on this run.
Who can possibly explain it? Who even wants to try?
The 30-year-old Scarborough, Ontario native is clearly having the time of his life, his teammates are loving it and Canuck fans are eating it up. So it's all good.
It's just the second time all season a Canucks has scored five goals in a three game span - Daniel did it in the three games out of the Christmas break. And just like that streak, Cowan's goals have come in three straight Canuck victories and at the end of the day that's what matters most.
It's quite probable that Jeff Cowan will continue to hold the hot hand, and yet, who, including Cowan himself, ever thought he'd follow up the Phoenix and Minnesota games the way he has? So maybe no one should bet against him.
Three of his goals have come from him simply going to the net and getting position on the defender. There's no magic in that - just a willingness to pay a price and get the job done. His other goals have both been nice shots off the rush speaking to the fact he's playing with a ton of confidence and perhaps has a little more skill than he had been given credit for when he was claimed off waivers from Los Angeles just after Christmas.
Right now, Cowan with Brendan Morrison and Matt Cooke gives the Canucks three solid scoring lines and in this league that's hard to defend against. Just ask the Coyotes, Wild and Lightning.
And just ask Jeff Cowan who the highest scoring player in the NHL is in the month of March. He'd be happy to tell you.
Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org