Change is the Only Sure Thing for Canucks

I will be writing a series of posts on the Canucks through the summer, focusing on sections of the club, from players to management. Today’s post is about the management of the club.

This was a wasted year for the Canucks. It has taken me awhile to get to this blog post, and it’s likely because I have largely been indifferent about the team performances this season. If playoff ticket demand is any indication, many fans feel the same way as I do. As a fan that is difficult to say. I always like to have a positive spin on situations – hey, Luongo almost had that – but this year was too much like last year: Shorter than expected.

There are positives for the Canucks in the last couple years: more wins than losses, amazing goaltending, some wonderful performances, and 2 more Northwest Division titles.

There are also negatives: poor player management choices from the draft on up, horrible defensive blunders despite being a defensive minded team, consecutive 1st round exists from the playoffs, and oh yeah: The Northwest Division is one of the weakest in the NHL. There’s a false sense of security in winning the Northwest Division title. It’s a guaranteed top 3 seed in the playoffs, but it allows the Canucks to play mediocre hockey and believe that they are playing better than they are. In the two President’s Trophy winning seasons, the Canucks were the only team to make the playoffs from the Northwest Division. This year, the Minnesota Wild were the 8th seed.

The jury is decidedly out on Mike Gillis’ tenure so far.

There are many hits – Gillis does seem to have a talent for getting players to re-sign for the so-called “Hometown Discount” – Sedins, Bieksa, and others. However, some other free agent signings have been regrettable – Sundin and Demitra (R.I.P. – no disrespect) among them.

The drafting has been mediocre, and the trading worse. Granted, you don’t always get a roster player out of a draft pick, and the Canucks have had late picks due to their regular season success, but the Canucks have traded away numerous picks and prospects for not much in return. Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier and a 1st round draft pick were traded for Keith Ballard. Kevin Connauton and a 2nd round pick were traded at the deadline for Derek Roy, who looks to be a pure rental. Since the Canucks were swept in the first round, that rental was short lived. Cody Hodgson was traded away for Zack Kassian. Hodgson is now a nearly a point-a-game player with the Sabres, while Zack was occasionally scratched for his inconsistent effort.

And finally, the goaltending debacle controversy was “solved” by trading Cory Schneider at the draft for New Jersey’s 9th overall pick. This might prove to be the worst trade the Canucks have ever made, this side of Cam Neely for Barry Pederson. The Canucks traded away their #1 goaltender for a draft pick (Bo Horvat – a fine young player from the London Knights) and no roster players that might be able to help out the Canucks right now. Schneider stands to inherit the goaltending throne of Martin Brodeur in New Jersey, and will no doubt flourish behind New Jersey’s defensive style of play. It’s not fair to Horvat, who will be compared to Schneider for years to come, or to Luongo, who will once again resume the #1 role under the microscope of the Vancouver media and fans.

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  1. Canuck Fan says

    Seems you always look to the negitives and not the postives.You can only work with what you can afford,probably the reason you drive a mini van and not a porche!! Players are unproven talent,but seems the $$$ figure comes into play to often.Lets rebuild a team like buffalo did one year where no player got more than 1 million $$$’s.Now they also won a stanley cup in that time.Maybe get rid of the over paid players and bring up some younger talent and make the game more entertaining.Who really cares if we win the CUP.Lets make it like old school hockey and say you dont **CENSORED** with us……

    • Bruce Ng says

      I’m OK with my mini van! A little Carrera won’t be able to take me and my kids to hockey practice!! =)

      Agreed with you on unproven talent. My point here is that we might have more young talent in the farm system if Gillis hadn’t traded away picks and young players for not much in return.

      Not sure what you mean regarding Buffalo – they haven’t won a cup. I definitely care if the Canucks win – and by playing the right way, without the old school goonery. I like the fast paced skill game! I guess time will tell if the Canucks skill game can finally get them a championship.

  2. Bob says

    Bruce – liked the article. Not as convinced that Schneider is neely-esque, but it certainly seems a poorly timed decision. At any other time in the past two years he could’ve gotten more for Schneider, so one can’t help but think that a lack of communication/planning between Gillis and ownership led to an uh-oh moment. Did the GM believe he could buy out Luongo if push came to shove? Did Acquilini change his mind at the last second, perhaps explaining why the owner fly on his private plane to Florida at the very last second. More questions than answers, but one thing is clear: Gillis’ strengths in contract management have not outweighted his weaknesses in the other parts of the GM role. And that will cost him his job after next season, in my opinion.

    • Bruce Ng says

      Hey Bob! thanks for reading man. Alright, so the Schneider comparison to Neely might be a bit of a stretch, but this is a bad deal and it looks like it was rushed. You’re absolutely right – more questions than answers. From here, it looks like Gillis was hamstrung by the ownership in terms of not being able to buy out Luongo. What irks me is that before the draft he was preaching patience, then pulled the trigger on this deal. When other GMs on the floor of the draft are buzzing about how cheap Schneider was, that says something.

      Time will tell what kind of player Bo Horvat will become. A twitter pal of mine put it nicely: it’s like trading a million dollars for a million dollar lottery ticket.

      Gillis’ strengths in contract management and negotiation are really good – getting Kesler, Burrows, Sedins and more at a hometown discount is no easy feat. Agreed with you 100% on Gillis’ weaknesses. So far he has been on the losing end of a few trades, and has not proven to be very good at evaluating young talent.

  3. Batman says

    Few things:

    1) Sundin was NOT a regretable signing.

    2) Way too early to give any kind of label to the Schneider/Horvat deal. Horvat has Ryan Kesler part deux written all over him and so given this promise, this deal could easily work in Vancouver’s favor. Adding to that, Corey Schneider’s injuries and cramping at key times during the playoffs (or before the playoffs) are also cause for concern. Perhaps it’s just coincidence, but perhaps this is also a sign that Schneider’s mental anxieties are what leads to these injuries.

    3) Royaldude is the best poster on and deserves financial compensation for his contributions in my personal opinion.

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