Friday, February 12th, 2016

Grading Gillis


Dear Tom,

You haven’t written anything about the Canucks since the Gillis hiring. How do you think Mike is doing so far? Did you like the decision to grab Wellwood?


I’m trying to keep an open mind, but its been a struggle. I will cheerfully acknowledge that I do not know what Gillis should be doing. I have no idea how to build a winner under this CBA and I don’t criticise managers for actions not taken. Since Gillis hasn’t done very much, there isn’t much to discuss. Judging from what I have seen, I haven’t liked.

1) I don’t have any problems with the decision to grab Wellwood. If he does well in a scoring role, he is a steal at $1 MM. If he doesn’t score, the Canucks can waive him and waste Aqulini’s money in the AHL. Chalk this one up in the plus column for Gillis.

2) I think Gillis has done a poor job of managing fan expectations. From the outset he has implied that he could – with a bold move or two – change the nature of this team and win in the near term. If he believed this, he is a naive fool. Either the Canucks add wisely to the Nonis foundation and get better, or they decide fundamental change is required and take backward steps to create a better future. Fundamental change and winning now are probably mutually exclusive goals.

Losing is apparently unacceptable. The team is – according to Gillis – a long way from winning. How do we get close to winning if we are not prepared to accept losing for a while?

3) I’m not particularly attached to the Sedins, but shopping them at the draft was stupid. The chance of finding a good trade was very remote and the chance that word of his efforts would leak was very high. Gillis needs the Sedins to do well next year and letting them know he is trying to trade them does not help.

4) I like to be able to see a plan. Aside from a few ridiculous comments about using statistics to better evaluate players – he doesn’t know how to do that yet – I can’t see what he is doing. What is the team doing about Naslund or Morrison? Apparently neither player is going to be signed. That’s fine, I suppose, but Gillis should decide that and announce it. He can then explain how he intends to replace them. How many good free agents are available? Does Gillis really believe he can sign two top six forwards to replace Morrison and Naslund and then find a third one to improve their offense?

The only way to improve a team is to get better players. They can be acquired in the draft but that takes years. They can sometimes be acquired in a trade, but trades don’t happen often with this CBA. They can also be signed as free agents, but free agents are always overpaid and the player – not the GM – decides which team will get him.

I get the feeling that Mike Gillis figured that being a general manager in the NHL was pretty much as easy as being the general manager of a team in a hockey pool. He could make this trade, draft that guy and sign a couple of free agents – and shazzam! – a winner!

Reality bites. I’ve been reduced to hoping Gillis is a fast learner.

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4 Responses to “Grading Gillis”
  1. Magicpie says:

    I dislike Gillis on a personal level. Based on his media appearances he just seems like kind of a douche. He’s got the same “i’m a professional” manner of speaking that Nonis did, but on him it just seems more angry and abrasive. Even the “getting to know Gillis” articles by people who knew him as an agent implied that. They all said stuff like “well he’s smart, he’s capable”, but not one of them said anything like “he’s a good guy”.

    When it comes to his moves, though, I like what he’s done so far. I like Hodgson over Beech. I like the Wellwood pickup (although I
    I’m a bit suspicious on why the Leafs would waive him, and why all the teams below us would pass on him). I like the general noises he’s made about statistical analysis (although I’m a bit apprehensive about my team being experimented on like that).

    Basically I don’t know if I like the guy, but I’m more optimistic about his skills as a GM.

  2. Tom says:

    The Leafs waived him because they didn’t want to pay him $1 MM. He will probably not be worth the money.

    I don’t know whether they did Wellwood a favour or not. This way, Wellwood is guaranteed to make $1 MM this season. On the other hand, if the Leafs had chosen to merely not qualify him, Wellwood becomes a UFA.

  3. rajeev says:

    What are their plans re Kirill Koltsov? By all accounts he’s considered one of the best defensemen in Russia and certainly is more regarded than Konstantine Korneev, who looked pretty good on the first pairing for a team that won gold in Quebec City. I imagine Kotlsov is happy and comfortable in Ufa, but that’s a rough ride to have an asset like that, after spending significant time under your careful watch in Manitoba, now back home spending oil money on sportcars and caspian seaside dachas. Meanwhile, you’re scoring 2 goals a game and asking alex edler to play the PP. If Vancouver wants to upgrade its offense, a puck-rushing and PP point d-man like Kirill would be a good place to start.

  4. Tom says:

    I think the Canucks have written him off.

    I don’t mind Edler on the defense. They are in the market for a #7 d-man, somebody to replace Bourdon. If the season started tomorrow, they’ve got an NHL defense.

    We need to see some decisions made for the forwards. Wellwood will be in the mix with Raymond and Shannon, but they start by figuring out how they are going to replace Morrison, Naslund and Linden.

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