Looking back at the great Mike Gillis ‘reset’ of 2008

If you wanted to hear that Mike Gillis was going to blow up the Canucks’ roster and mass-fire the coaching staff during his press conference last Thursday, you were likely gravely disappointed. Gillis has never been one to make a hasty, emotional decision and he was disconcertingly calm as he answered questions about the Canucks’ disappointing season and the unceremonious four-game sweep that ended it.

Gillis stayed away from drastic words like “rebuild” and instead pushed the far less dramatic “reset” repeatedly. Which is silly, because everyone knows you only need to push reset once. Pushing it repeatedly is pointless. Besides, sometimes you have to take the cartridge out and blow on it before it will work properly.

“Five years ago, we came in here and reset this organization, and it’s time to do it again,” said Gillis, referring to 2008, when he was first hired to be the General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks.

Looking at what Gillis did then may help us know what to expect during the coming off-season. How much of a “reset” did Gillis institute when he joined the organization?

Most new GMs tend to make sweeping changes at the coaching and management level, bringing in their own people to occupy these vital positions. Gillis, however, bucked the trend. After extensive interviews with head coach Alain Vigneault and associate coach Rick Bowness, he kept both of them on, which certainly seemed like a good decision by the time the 2010-11 season came around.

It certainly seems far more likely now that Vigneault will be let go, but Gillis has had many opportunities to fire him and hasn’t done so yet.

What Gillis did do, however, was fire both assistant coaches, Barry Smith and Mike Kelly, replacing them with Ryan Walter and Darryl Williams. Smith is currently the Director of Player Development for the Chicago Blackhawks, while Kelly moved on to become the head coach and general manager of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.

While Walter was a bit of a bust as an assistant coach and was let go two years later, Williams is still the Canucks’ assistant coach who works with video. He and Newell Brown, who replaced Walter in 2010, may want to keep a lookout if this off-season’s “reset” bears any similarity to the one five years ago.

At the management level, Gillis made significant changes. Steve Tambellini resigned to take the Edmonton Oilers’ GM job, but he was likely on his way out in any case. Gillis brought in Laurence Gilman to be his VP of Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager, then promoted Stan Smyl and Lorne Henning from the scouting ranks, making Smyl his Senior Adviser and Henning the VP of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager.

It seems unlikely that we’ll see any similar changes this time around. This was the one area where Gillis brought in his own people and there hasn’t been any indication of dissatisfaction with their work. Gilman, in particular, has been an essential part of the front office. As the resident cap wizard, Gilman has been responsible for some of the Canucks’ most esoteric manipulations of the salary cap and also negotiates with teams, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, where Gillis isn’t on the friendliest of terms with their GM.

Gillis also made some adjustments to the Canucks’ scouting and development in 2008, bringing in Dave Gagner as director of player development and hiring and firing a few scouts. Though the Canucks may make some changes in this area, they’re unlikely to be any more significant than in previous seasons, although Gillis’s recent record at the trade deadline may lead him to question some of his pro scouts.

Now we get to the players themselves. The issue with comparing what happened in 2008 to what might happen this off-season is that 2008 was more of a transitional year. The Sedins had established themselves as first-line players, but Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows were both still third-line checkers. Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison were still Canucks.

So, in 2008, Gillis revamped the top-six of the Canucks, releasing Naslund and Morrison to free agency, letting go of the last remnants of the West Coast Express era. To replace them, Gillis went after veteran free agents Pavol Demitra and Mats Sundin in order to bridge the gap until other players were ready to step into the role.

Kesler and Burrows showed they were ready that following season, as Burrows lined up alongside the Sedins, while Kesler apprenticed on Sundin’s wing, once the big Swede finally signed with the Canucks partway through the season.

While Burrows made it a moot point, Gillis also took steps to fill the Sedins’ open spot on the right wing, acquiring Steve Bernier in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres. Bernier was ultimately a disappointment in a top-line role, eventually getting packaged into the Keith Ballard trade, speaking of disappointments.

This off-season, the Canucks’ top six is pretty much set. The top line of the Sedins and Burrows is still a solid combination, while Kesler should get another shot at centring Chris Higgins and David Booth while all three are healthy. With young players like Zack Kassian, Nicklas Jensen, and Jordan Schroeder available to slot into the top-six in case of injury or scoring slumps, there doesn’t seem to be any need to acquire much in the way of veteran top-six talent like in 2008.

The bottom six certainly needs some attention, however. In 2008, Gillis let go of bottom six forwards that Dave Nonis had acquired, like Byron Ritchie and Brad Isbister (neither of whom played in the NHL again) and signed Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Johnson to play on the fourth line. Neither player was particularly good in Vancouver, though the duo had one moment of glory in the playoffs, as Johnson blocked a shot at one end and Hordichuk scored at the other, thanks to a gorgeous spin-o-rama pass from Rick Rypien.

Johnson appeared to be Gillis’s first attempt at bringing in a legitimate defensive centre, echoed later with acquiring Manny Malhotra, Maxim Lapierre, and Samme Pahlsson, with Malhotra being the most successful of those acquisitions.

Gillis also claimed Kyle Wellwood off waivers in 2008 and he ended up playing a decent chunk of the season as the Canucks’ third-line centre. Like the veteran acquisitions of Demitra and Sundin, this seemed to mainly be a stop-gap measure until a better option could be found, though Wellwood was vastly underrated defensively.

The 2008 “reset” wasn’t particularly inspiring among the forward ranks, then. Gillis’s bottom-six acquisitions were unimpressive and his top-six moves don’t really apply to the Canucks’ current situation unless Gillis makes a major trade.

Gillis did even less with the defence, which is understandable, considering the Canucks still had Matthias Ohlund to go with Sami Salo, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, and Willie Mitchell. Gillis let Mike Weaver go (in hindsight, perhaps a minor mistake) and traded Lukas Krajicek for Shane O’Brien.

The Canucks are in a similar position this off-season, with Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, and Chris Tanev all well-established and Frank Corrado knocking on the door. With Keith Ballard likely to receive a cap compliance buyout, that leaves only minor tinkering to be done with the defence unless Gillis makes a drastic move by trading, say, Edler, who has a no-trade clause that kicks in next season.

If Gillis meant what he said when he talked about a “reset” akin to 2008, don’t look for blockbuster trades or sweeping changes. What Gillis did in 2008 was assess the current team, find the gaps, and fill them in. If that’s Gillis’s definition of a reset, then you can expect next season’s Canucks to look remarkably similar by the end of the summer.

 

Major stick-tap to HFBoards poster 19nazzy, who has kept a detailed transaction history of Mike Gillis’s tenure as General Manager. His thread was invaluable for preparing this post.

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54 comments

  1. ktownfan
    May 13, 2013

    I guess the question is, is that top 6 good enough? The playoff scoring drought of the last 3 series says maybe not.

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  2. Brent
    May 13, 2013

    Can we get Malholtra a Borg eye so he can come back and play? I would be very happy with that “reset”.

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    • Aaron
      May 13, 2013

      I’d +10 that if they would let me!!!!!!!!!

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  3. akidd
    May 13, 2013

    “This off-season, the Canucks’ top six is pretty much set. ”

    is that so? booth is coming back to save the day with gimme empty-netters? it will be a helluva long season if that is the top 6.

    i expect edler to be moved and to bring back some top six scoring talent. it is so needed. the sedins can’t be expected to carry the load. if they can be point-a-game guys that will be great but i’m expcecting a little less than that. kesler, with all of his moxie, really hasn’t gelled with anyone. is there a player out there besides parise who can de-helipcopterize the kesler line? if there is the canucks better get him quick.

    scoring is the issue. not just finishing but creating more chances is what is needed. gillis will have to get busy and lucky to save this team.

    not sure frankly if i have the patience for another 82-game foreplay to some more disappointing coitus. gillis has to do something blockbusterish just to keep the fans’ interest.

    so ya, i expect a lot more out of this reset.

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  4. Denise
    May 13, 2013

    I don’t think Higgins is a top 6 forward.

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  5. kjmaclean
    May 13, 2013

    Gillis is basically saying “more of the same.” Canuck fans, if you are satisfied with that you’ll be happy with this management team. The sad fact is that Gillis, and everybody else in this organization, simply doesn;t know what it takes to win a cup. Henrik Sedin’s comment after game 3 was pathetic, about how “we believe in ourselves.” Well, Henrik and his brother were both no-shows in game 4 and the Canucks were swept. If Gillis wants to do better, he needs to get some guys in here who aren’t afraid to grind and check and compete for 60 minutes, because we don’t have those guys now — not even Bieksa.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 13, 2013

      Henrik and Daniel combined to assist on Burrows’ goal in game 4. It was one of the prettiest goals of the series. Not sure how that qualifies as a “no-show.”

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      • yobbei
        May 14, 2013

        one goal. no matter how pretty is still one freaking goal.

        no show.

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  6. Aaron
    May 13, 2013

    This may have some backlash but we have a young Goalie named Schnider who along with Edler could fetch a fairly solid First line and then our second line could be the twins and Burrows or maybe Kesler, That would leave us with only 1 All star Goalie (though not the one most will want) But allow us some youth and possibly some scoreing. Defense is still solid and we could now have 3 lines that could play top 6 minutes. I think Schnider would fetch more than Lou due to his age. But who know what Lou will get us. Either way I hope they do more than reset.

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    • Cody
      May 14, 2013

      Schneider a year ago would have fetched a lot more due to the lower price. Also the goalie market is not as good as most Vancouver fans seem to think. There are a lot of goalies out there and many teams that seem willing to give former up and comers a second chance in net.

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  7. Lenny
    May 13, 2013

    …the late Rick Rypien.

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  8. swizzler16
    May 13, 2013

    It has become increasingly irritating to hear people talk about how the Canucks need to make ‘big changes’ this offseason. Such grand, sweeping statements are much easier said than done.
    With the salary cap dropping next year, how do you suppose Gillis can make these big changes and noticeably improve the team at the same time? Quite frankly, given the cap circumstances, I will be impressed if the Canucks can remain equally as competitive next year as they are now.
    Get realistic

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    • ikillchicken
      May 13, 2013

      The thing is, the Canucks cap situation isn’t actually nearly as bad as it seems. The core of this team is still super tight cap-wise. The reason we’re up there right now is that we have a fair bit of dead weight, all of which can easily be cut especially with compliance buyouts as an option. We’ll clear 5.5M by moving Lu. We also free up a combined 4.7 from Raymond and Malhotra. Another 4.2 by buying out Ballard. That’s definitely enough to get under the falling cap and cover the raises for Burr and Edler. Granted, we likely won’t be in a position to add if that’s all we do. But we could also buy out Booth for another 4.2. (Not saying we should but this would certainly be an option if we want to make additions and replace him with someone better/cheaper). And then there’s Edler. Again, I’m not saying we should trade him but if we’re of a mind to make “big changes” it really would not be that hard to make them by trading Edler which gives us both the cap space and the asset to acquire a major piece.

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    • akidd
      May 13, 2013

      well…’realistically’ ballard, booth and lou add up to 14 mil in cap space. raymond another 3ish mil. there’s guys to sign but that gives a bit of space.

      there are things that could really help. the right trade is out there. core players for core players. simmonds(plus a 3rd round draft pick) for edler for ex. might get fans’ attention. and a different head coach would be a big change.

      there are things that can be done.

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      • akidd
        May 13, 2013

        ‘great minds’ post alike and ….at exactly the same time. i kill chicken too. by proxy but i’m still guilty…eerie coincidence….

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  9. Chicken Chick
    May 13, 2013

    After a season to forget
    Better do more than just “reset”.
    While Edler has to go away,
    It’s Bobby Lu is one to stay:
    Trade Schneider for Lecavalier!

    Get rid of Raymond Roy and Weise,
    To wasted salary thus decrease.
    Sestito too has proved a bust,
    So trading him’s another must.
    Let’s get some guys that fans can trust!

    And if AV can’t motivate,
    Then get someone to set things straight,
    For it’s quite clear that all’s not right,
    When they’re not ready ev’ry night
    To play as hard as well they might!

    As there are problems to address,
    “Reset” does nothing to impress
    Most fans who since the season’s through
    Are now demanding something new.
    There ‘re things that need attending to!

    And Gillis too is one of those
    Whose leaving fans would not oppose!

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    • Rituro
      May 13, 2013

      This…

      “It’s Bobby Lu is one to stay:
      Trade Schneider for Lecavalier!”

      …is gold. Genius-level gold rhyming.

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      • John in Marpole
        May 14, 2013

        Glad it works in a poem, because it doesn’t work in the real world.

        Luongo is gone. He’s been told he is gone, and he wants to be gone. Keeping him would be a huge mistake for that reason, and an even more important one:

        Schneider is the better goaltender. He is now, and he’ll be even better in the future. That’s a big reason why he is thought to have more value on the market than Luongo.

        I have yet to see any knowledgeable analyst that says that Schneider isn’t the better of the two.

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        • Tom 1040
          May 15, 2013

          Gee Ms. Marpole…

          In a way you are complimenting me. Thanks, I appreciate that you recognize my hockey knowledge.

          In fact, I was one of the few who stated that Schneider was the better goalie since 2011 (reasons listed in detail in bygone posts).

          I cannot disagree with what you have posted though you are an idiot in general.

          But what perhaps relevant is a comment on the big picture.

          Gillis owns this mess from start to finish both with Luongo and with the team in general in decline.

          Time for a bold move?

          Indeed.

          Gillis should expose himself for the no-nothing moron he is and trade Schneider.

          Why?

          Why don’t you tell us why? I think even you can figure it out. If you have trouble, I can help you.

          Just ask.

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          • Daniel Wagner
            May 15, 2013

            Why should he even respond to you? You called him an idiot and yet somehow attribute to him the opinion that Gillis should trade Schneider, something he clearly did not say.

            Lose the insults, please.

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            • Tom 1040
              May 15, 2013

              Lose the hypocrisy, please.

              I have received two unsolicited insults from the ‘person’ in question. I now will respond in kind.

              What’s more, your responses to my posts have often been less than polite.

              Get real.

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          • Harrison Mooney
            May 15, 2013

            The best part is, after an arrogant and insulting post like this, you’ll turn around and ask why no one is being respectful to you.

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            • Tom 1040
              May 15, 2013

              What a flakey comment!

              You comment on my comment! Shall I copy and paste some of the comments of others to me to refresh your memory?

              Those seemed to quite fine with you.

              JiM has been rude as have you as has Daniel as have others.

              Which is why I respond in kind to a select few.

              Talk about arrogant and insulting!?! Take a look in the mirror. Based on your picture, I think you need to stand a little closer to it though.

              Re-write history much? You to have trouble with time order.

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              • tom selleck's moustache
                May 16, 2013

                Give me a break.

                If you’ll notice, people, especially regulars, are pretty respectful to each other and are generally respond likewise to newcomers who post in kind. You did not do that. You started right off the bat with insulting, condescending, and inflammatory posts that were mocking in tone. My first impression was that you were a troll and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the general impression of everyone else as well; to be complaining about people’s reception to you when acting in that manner is pretty rich.

                You had a handful of posts that were better; but remember what they say about first impressions. What, did you really think that you could just throw mud in peoples faces one day and then the next day that they’d forget about it? You made your bed and you’re going to have to lay in it. The community here is pretty good and stands out from other online communities that I’ve seen in regards to the level of civility and respect that people have towards each other; so if you wish to be a part of it, that means having to dig yourself out of the hole that you yourself created. When you’re not being being a troll in your posts, you’ve been able to make some good points, so if you can lose that part of it, you’ll find the feedback improving.

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              • Tom 1040
                May 17, 2013

                To Tom Selleck’s mustache…

                What a load of crap.

                Please provide me with one example.

                Challenge taken?

                By the way, the “regulars” are all like-minded.

                I notice I didn’t get a response from the principles.

                Grow up.

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              • Daniel Wagner
                May 17, 2013

                I can’t speak for Harrison, but I didn’t bother replying because it’s obviously not worth it.

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              • Harrison Mooney
                May 17, 2013

                In this case, you are welcome to speak for me.

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              • tom selleck's moustache
                May 17, 2013

                @Wagner

                Evidently :)

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              • Tom 1040
                May 17, 2013

                As expected, no example provided.

                All I have done (until very recently) is give my honest opinion about the team and its principle players.

                This season went mostly as expected – for me anyway.

                Too bad some people are unable to handle an opinion that isn’t donning rose-coloured glasses.

                If you want to be a homer, fine. I don’t care. Just don’t be rude/insulting when responding to my comments, or I’ll respond similarly.

                I find objectivity a positive quality. For example, was 7/8 in the first round. How about you, Daniel?

                So far, though far from over, am in trending to go 4 for 4 in the second round.

                However, I want Ottawa to win their series as I want San Jose to beat LA.

                But based on what I know about hockey and the NHL, I don’t think they will win, so I say so.

                Just like I say about the over-rated, poorly coached, and fraudulently managed Canucks.

                It is exactly the above kind of language that rains on the homer parade.

                Too bad.

                I hold the sugar-coating. But I am not rude or insulting to others’ comments.

                Have a nice day.

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              • Harrison Mooney
                May 17, 2013

                My example of your holier-than-thou, rude, insulting approach is this comment right here. And while going 7-for-8 on your first-round predictions is impressive, I fail to see how it validates the way you act.

                There’s a difference between homers and fans. Homers are members of the media who are secretly fans. Fans are fans that don’t have to be fans in secret. Your problem is you think you’re speaking out against homers. But really you’re just acting rude to fans.

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              • Tom 1040
                May 17, 2013

                Firstly, your definition of homer is completely wrong – to me.

                Secondly, this blog, I thought, was for people to make comments and give their opinions whatever they may be,

                I state positives as well as negatives. I compliment posts and poems and have tried to engage those who are a little more polite than others such as akidd, andre, Chris and even tried to do so with Angry (but to no avail with that homer).

                Acting rude to fans by stating what is obvious seems to me that it is ‘the fans’ that have the ‘problem’ and not me.

                Hope I have responded appropriately though I really don’t totally understand what you mean.

                Holier than thou?

                I am sorry, you must be talking about Mike Gillis.

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  10. Chinook
    May 13, 2013

    Hey Daniel, thanks for the link to Gillis player transaction history. Looks to me Gillis mostly made smart moves. However, the 2010 trade with Florida is interesting to break down – Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and Canucks first draft pick (Quinton Howden) for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich.

    Howden has played a handful of games so he and Oreskovich cancel out, though Howden may yet develop. Bernier still struggles to be an NHL calibre power forward so Gillis was smart to move him. Grabner never played a game for Florida, he was moved on to NYIslanders where he’s been a goal scorer, 70 goals in 3 seasons. He only played 20 games for the Canucks, after 2.5 seasons with the Moose. I figure its dumb to trade a top draft pick so early in his development, though other General Managers do it too (and get fired if they make enough bone-head trades). Think I read somewhere that Canuck thinking was that Grabner and Mason Raymond were sort of equivalent, as speedy lightweight goal-scorers and we didn’t need both of them. Raymond had just scored 25 goals, so (grudgingly) perhaps it was only a little bit dumb to trade Grabner. Yeah, who would want a bunch of speedy goal-scorers? obviously redundant. (side point – thats why I don’t want to see Schroeder traded, we don’t know yet what we got in him)

    Which brings me to Ballard and a question for you Daniel. Does MG discuss proposed trades with AV, or did they both totally misjudge Ballard? Clearly Gillis figured Ballard to be a top 4 by taking on 5 more years at $4.2M, and giving up Grabner. I don’t believe its anything to do with how Vigneault used him. Blame it on the scouting staff? Or maybe their conversation went like this: AV said “I dunno Mike, I don’t like the guy” and MG said “I’m the boss Alain, trust me, it’ll work out great”

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 13, 2013

      I think everyone expected Ballard to be a whole lot better in Vancouver. When the Canucks made this trade, I thought it was a high price to pay, but Ballard had been a top-four guy everywhere he played, so I felt it was worth it. I didn’t anticipate him falling right out of the lineup, that’s for sure. I thought it was a pretty decent trade at the time.

      I’m not sure what Vigneault would have said to Gillis before the trade, if anything. I doubt Vigneault was all that familiar with him and wouldn’t have known whether he liked him or not. It probably would have been a different story if the Canucks hadn’t signed Hamhuis a week later. I mean, you can’t have enough defencemen, but the Canucks would have needed to rely on Ballard a lot more without Hamhuis.

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      • "I know nothing" Dreger
        May 14, 2013

        I don’t think Ballard is that bad – certainly not to the point of being a fringe player which he has since been reduced to. My question is whether AV owns some responsibilities here? Sure, Ballard can be better (but so can a lot of our Ds), I can’t help but to feel that AV has not gotten the best of him or other players. I feel that AV has a system and if a player does not quite fit into the system he sits…irrespective of what other attributes he brings.

        One question that MG will need to reconcile with Aquilini is why does his coach not use a player that he signed for $4m/yr? Can’t be all on the player…

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        • Chinook
          May 14, 2013

          Ballard’s contract was signed by Florida management prior to 2009-2010 season. Gillis didn’t make the contract, he inherited it with Ballard’s trade.

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          • mb13
            May 14, 2013

            That makes sense – not.

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        • Aaron
          May 15, 2013

          Right on the money with that comment! I think Ballard is more of an offensive minded Defenseman with some skills in that area to force him to play in AV’s system takes a lot away from him. I would like to see him given a shot with another coach but I suspect he will be bought out. I also think it might have been a decent idea to move him to the wing instead of waste his skills. I think AV was to set on changing players to his system than adapting to what a player could provide.

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      • biznow
        May 15, 2013

        Totally agree about Ballard. A lot of the Gillis moves looked good on paper. Look at David Booth… so many people were dying to get Booth, especially on the canucks forums, there were entire threads dedicated to going after him. He hasn’t worked out, and now those very same people are saying what a terrible move that was. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

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        • Connor
          May 15, 2013

          It would be a huge mistake to buy out Booth this summer. Give him one more year, if he is disappointing again then you can buy him out next offseason.

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  11. Wetcoaster
    May 13, 2013

    Gillis keeps saying reset, but I think the word he’s looking for is evolution or maybe refinement.

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  12. kenahora
    May 13, 2013

    Were the Canucks to swarm the opponents nets…crash it….deflect pucks…obscure the sights lines…we would not even be talking and back-stabbing the organization…as media knows well todo.

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  13. Tom 1040
    May 14, 2013

    Please note: This post will be repeated.

    Well, the 1st round of the playoffs is complete. I was going to report my ‘score’ – good or bad, anyway.

    West pre-series picks:
    Chicago in 5 Actual Chi in 5
    Detroit in 6 Actual Det. in 7
    SJ in 6 Actual SJ in 4
    St.Louis in 6 Actual LA in 6 (Damn Quick)

    East pre-series picks:
    Pitt in 5 Actual Pitt in 6 (NYI woulda, coulda, shoulda won – didn’t)
    Ottawa in 7 Actual Ottawa in 5
    NYR in 6 Actual NYR in 7
    Boston in 6 Actual Boston in 7

    I went 7 for 8.

    Skill?

    Nah…I got lucky.

    Picks for Round 2, anyone?

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    • bluemoonjones
      May 14, 2013

      Nicely done.

      I think we’re in for a bit of the usual 2nd round letdown (in terms of exciting nail- biting series’). I think we’ll be lucky to get one 7 gamer in, and we could actually see maybe three of ‘em only going 5 games or less.

      I think the best series by far looks to be Sharks-Kings. I see LA, but needing 7.

      My other picks:
      Boston over NYR in 6 (and I hate them Bruins, but…)
      Pittsburgh over Ottawa in 5
      Chicago over Detroit in 5

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      • Tom 1040
        May 14, 2013

        Cheers.

        Yep, probably, eh…1st round is often the best round.

        West:

        Chi in 5
        LA in 5

        East:
        Pitt in 6
        Bos. in 7

        Let’s see if the hockey gods even out and I go 1 and 3.

        Good luck.

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        • akidd
          May 14, 2013

          i don’t usually pick series. but for giggles:

          wings
          kings
          rangers
          sens

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  14. mb13
    May 14, 2013

    Do you guys all really believe the crap that comes out of Gillis’ mouth?

    My opinion – he’s not a very good GM. He was handed the keys to a team that had a Art Ross winners, Selke winner and a Hart winner. He was handed the keys to a team that had a defensive core that is one of the tops in the league. A good goalie and an excellent goalie prospect. He has supplemented this roster with Booth (I can’t wait for the feature next year showing all of Booth’s goals from last year), Ballard (stupid trade when it happened – the only reason you guys thought it would work was because you love Gillis and he can’t do anything wrong), Welwood (outside the box – more like Jack in the Box customer), Sundin (so overpaid I think Sundin must still be smiling), his former client, the late Pavel Demitra (overpaid). He signed Garrison to a long term deal with a NTC after a career year at the age of 28. He COMPLETELY mangled the Luongo situation.

    What am I missing here? He hired a sleep doctor and he’s a genius? Give me a break.

    Oh – am I the only one that thinks Vignault was coaching to make a point that this roster that you have given me sucks. No scoring. Two goalies. All d-men shooting same way. Sestito (LOL), Pinozotto (LOL), Kassian (LOL).

    Then he blames past successes for drafting late and not getting talent. Really? How have the Penguins stocked up on prospects all these years to acquire Iginla, Morrow, etc? Don’t they draft late seeing they won a cup and were finalists? Excuses are for losers – Gillis makes excuses – you guys can connect the rest of the dots.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      May 14, 2013

      I got a pretty good chuckle thinking about video editors looping that empty net goal over and over again for Booth’s “highlight” reel.

      However, I disagree about Iginla and Morrow, the Penguins didn’t really give up that much for them in terms of prospects, and picks near the end of the 1st round. That was some good GMing by Shero but their team’s prospect pool is pretty average (better than ours, but whose isn’t?)

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 14, 2013

      *sigh*

      He re-signed all of those great players that he inherited to very good contracts, particularly the Sedins and Burrows (with room for disagreement on Luongo). When you talk about the defensive corps that is “one of the best in the league,” you conveniently left out the acquisition of Dan Hamhuis, who has arguably been the Canucks’ best defenceman since he was signed. Our second best defenceman this season was probably Jason Garrison, whose signing you inexplicably ridicule. You left out trading for Christian Ehrhoff, who he got for essentially nothing.

      I would argue that Mikael Samuelsson was a very good signing for the Canucks. Manny Malhotra was a fantastic signing that became the foundation of their zone start strategy. Finding Chris Tanev in the college ranks was a great move. Supplementing the Canucks’ goaltending depth with Eddie Lack was also a nice find. Raffi Torres for $1 million was a very solid signing. Acquiring both Higgins and Lapierre at the 2011 trade deadline was an essential move for the run to the Cup Finals.

      Even some of the things you seem to think are terrible deals were fine. Demitra wasn’t overpaid: he was a $4 million second liner, which is pretty standard league-wide for a veteran in free agency. Sundin took a smaller contract than what was originally offered. Wellwood was a perfectly serviceable player in Vancouver who cost nothing to acquire and didn’t take up a lot of cap space. We can disagree on Booth and Kassian, but they haven’t been the out-and-out busts that you are suggesting.

      Besides, if you thought we were 100% positive on the Ballard trade when it happened, then you haven’t been reading PITB since the beginning.

      In any case, Gillis’s detractors tend to have a far more selective memory than his supporters. Has he made missteps? Certainly. Have I liked all of his moves? Definitely not. I wish he had picked up Jussi Jokinen off waivers instead of trading for Derek roy, for instance. Should he have handled the Luongo situation differently? Yeah, probably, though it’s tough to say given we don’t know what other teams were offering in a trade. I still think he has done a very good job. There’s room for improvement, certainly, but he hasn’t been terrible.

      You bring up Pittsburgh, who happen to have two of the best forwards in the league thanks to sucking long enough to pick at the top of the draft twice. That depth at centre has made it a lot easier for them to trade prospects away. They have also drafted pretty well, true, but they also have a sketchy defence and one of the most overrated goaltenders in the league signed to a $5 million contract through 2015. Now that is overpaid. Has Ray Shero been a good GM for the Penguins? Of course. Has he made mistakes? Of course.

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      • MB13
        May 14, 2013

        I didn’t conveniently leave out Hamhuis – I inadvertently left him out. He was a very good signing – there is debate whether Gillis recruited him or Hamhuis essentially told Vancouver I’m playing for you. Garrison – the sample size is too small but I agree – he played well. I still think it’s a risky signing and has a chance to blow up.

        I’m not saying that what Gillis has done has been all bad – but it’s a lot easier to re-sign players than to draft and develop. Too many people give him credit when he just made finishing touches while the heavy lifting was done by the previous regime – a regime that Gillis was quick to talk bad about upon being hired.

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      • Tom 1040
        May 14, 2013

        Gillis is an abject fraud of a GM.

        More on this when I have more time…

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  15. Heavy
    May 14, 2013

    What about getting bigger? MG has emphasized this the past two years. There are a few ways to do this.

    1. Promote the few guys with size in the organization. Are Lain, Archibald, and Jensen ready? I think we’d be lucky if one could stick with the team. It is, ironically, a little slim.

    2. Free agents. There are definitely some big boys in the UFA list this year: Bickell, Horton, Clowe, Penner, Antropov, Latendresse, Klinkhammer, Steckel, and Torres. The first five probably will cost too much for the Canucks.

    3. Trade. I have no idea, so I won’t speculate. We’d have to give up a real asset like Edler to bring back a size/talent combination.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 14, 2013

      I think Lain is potentially ready to be a fourth line centre, but not much more. Archibald isn’t ready, but could be a call-up mid-season if he performs well in the AHL. Jensen is borderline. It depends on how his summer training goes. I’m hoping he comes into training camp and makes it so the team has no choice but to put him in the lineup.

      Alexandre Grenier has plenty of size and had a pretty solid rookie season in the ECHL, but it’s the ECHL. He’ll have to prove he can play at the AHL level before he gets considered for the Canucks, but he’s a potential bottom-six forward in a couple years. Joseph Labate is huge, but will likely spend at least one more year in the NCAA before joining the Canucks. Stefan Schneider is another forward with size who is a defensive specialist. He could slot in on the third or fourth line in another year. Brendan Gaunce isn’t small at 6’2″, but he’s probably a longshot to make the team next season.

      But yeah, that’s about it from within the Canucks’ prospect ranks when it comes to size. I’d say that Lain and Jensen are the most likely to play for the Canucks next season, with an outside shot for Gaunce. Those three aren’t likely to make a major impact for another couple seasons, though.

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  16. mb13
    May 14, 2013

    I find it frustrating that the Canucks are so reactionary. OK not frustrating because I don’t like this regime too much so rooting for them to fail.

    But seriously… Wings, Pens and Hawks win the cup…let’s get speed…let’s get talent. Bruins and Kings win the cup…let’s get big…. is GMMG’s head going to explode if the Hawks win the cup this year with Patrick Kane leading the playoffs in scoring?

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  17. Clara Beasley
    May 17, 2013

    who thinks that gillis doesn’t want those other 5 now that he has kassian? i’d say they are good bets to be targets in the offseason, which would make this speculation plenty relevant.

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