The Paper Feature: Judging Mike Gillis’s new acquisitions 10 games in

The Paper Feature will run every Wednesday in the Vancouver Sun’s print edition, as well as online here at Pass it to Bulis. (It’s called the Paper Feature for what we hope are obvious reasons.) 

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A commonly heard refrain at the beginning of the NHL season is that you can’t pass judgement on a team or player until at least 10 games have past. Really, this is a purely arbitrary number that just sounds good because it matches the number of fingers on our hands. 10 games into the 2010-11 season, the St. Louis Blues were in first place in the league after getting off to a hot start. 72 games later, they missed the playoffs.

With that said, 10 games is still enough time to start to get a feel for a team or player’s tendencies and it’s all we have to go on for some of the newest Canucks on the roster. While Mike Gillis didn’t make sweeping changes to the roster, despite all the talk about a “reset” at the start of the off-season, there are still a lot of new faces who we can start to judge.

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Player: Mike Santorelli

Pre-season expectations: None. Santorelli signed a two-way contract with the Canucks at the league-minimum salary after just 4 points in 34 games last season. At best, he was expected to compete for third-line centre.

Actual performance: Outstanding. Santorelli came into camp in fantastic shape, immediately impressing John Tortorella with his conditioning. He unexpectedly leads the Canucks in goal-scoring, including two overtime gamewinners, and seems to have reestablished himself as a top-six forward, skating with the Sedins at times and centring the second line when Kesler joins the twins.

Reminds me of: A two-way Jason King.

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Player: Brad Richardson

Pre-season expectations: Minimal. Richardson was a frequent healthy scratch with the Los Angeles Kings, but was thought to potentially be a fit as the Canucks’ third-line centre.

Actual performance: Solid. While Richardson seems best suited to centring the fourth line, he has capably filled the third-line role. More importantly, he’s been a fantastic penalty killer, even without taking his two shorthanded goals into consideration.

Reminds me of: Maxim Lapierre without the chirping, diving, and dirty plays. So, nothing like Lapierre, now that I think about it.

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Player: Yannick Weber

Pre-season expectations: Minor. Weber was signed as a depth defenceman whose offensive capability gives the Canucks some options on the third pairing.

Actual performance: We can say with some certainty that Weber is not a very good forward, as he slotted in on the fourth line for a few games. On defence, he’s been supplanted by Ryan Stanton on the depth chart.

Reminds me of: Lukas Krajicek with a better shot.

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Player: Ryan Stanton

Pre-season expectations: None whatsoever. We didn’t even know Stanton existed until Gillis put in a surprise waiver claim. The 24-year-old with one NHL game to his name wasn’t expected to provide much of an impact.

Actual performance: Shocking. Not only has Stanton earned a spot on the third pairing with his calm and poised play, he has 4 points in 10 games, tied for second among Canucks’ defencemen. While that scoring isn’t likely to continue, it’s a nice bonus to go with his defensive acumen.

Reminds me of: A left-handed Chris Tanev.

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Player: Zac Dalpe

Pre-season expectations: Limited. Dalpe was once highly-touted after a strong college career and an impressive start in the AHL, but hopes had dwindled since. The fact that he was acquired at the cost of Kellan Tochkin reined in expectations a fair bit.

Actual performance: Disappointing. Dalpe saw limited ice time on the fourth line, but also gave no reason for Tortorella to give him more. He was assigned to the Utica Comets on a conditioning assignment on Saturday, which may mean that his fitness wasn’t up to Tortorella’s expectations.

Reminds me of: A smaller Lee Goren.

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Player: Jeremy Welsh

Pre-season expectations: Even less than Dalpe. Signed to a one-way, $1 million contract the Carolina Hurricanes were unwilling to pay, Welsh was essentially the cost of acquiring Dalpe, which is embarrassing for both of them.

Actual performance: Better than Dalpe. While he’s played just one game so far for the Canucks, that’s one more game than was expected. In just over four minutes of ice time against the Blue Jackets, he had two shots, including a dangerous scoring chance in front of the net.

Reminds me of: Marc Chouinard

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Tweet Podium

This feature takes a moment to recognize the best tweets of the week, because we’re online-type writers and Twitter is an online-type thing. If you see a great Canucks-related tweet, send us a link. Or plagiarize it and bask in its glory. 

BRONZE

 

That’s why it’s always good to wait a while, like swimming after eating.

SILVER

 

John Tortorella went out on a limb this week. It’s been a long time since the Sedins were last separated.

GOLD

 

I really wish I’d thought of this.

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22 comments

  1. NarkusMaslund
    October 23, 2013

    There are a few different ways to look at this information. Here’s a few different reactions that came to mind, depending on which particular segment of the Canuck fanbase you ascribe to:

    “Wow, under ‘Preseason Expectations’, we had the following words: None, Minimal, Minor, None Whatsoever, Limited, Even Less Than (Limited). And then under ‘Actual Peformance’, the following words: Outstanding, Solid, …, Shocking (in a good way), Disappointing, Better than (disappointing). That’s 3 big positives (Santorelli, Richardson, Stanton), one limited positive (Welsh) one negative (Dalpe), and one as-expected (Weber). And the guys expected to play the biggest roles have been the 3 big positives! Gillis is a genius for all these cheap acquisitions! I’m looking forward to seeing what else he can do on the player evaluation front!”

    “If Gillis knows players this well, why the heck did he ever acquire ‘_______’ (list of players that Gillis has signed that haven’t panned out in opinion-holder’s position, likely to include Ballard and Booth, at a minimum)? Gillis is either just lucky, or an idiot that was lucky enough to luck into some cheap contributions from role players, and he’s terrible at actual player evaluation.”

    “Wow, that’s the list of the players Gillis acquired this year? He didn’t do nearly enough to improve the team! Why didn’t we trade Cory Schneider for Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier and a 1st round pick?”

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 23, 2013

      That’s it exactly. All the players that Gillis brought in had low expectations. Richardson probably had the most expectations placed on him, for Pete’s sake. That’s either a really positive thing (Gillis found talent where others couldn’t see it) or a really negative thing (Gillis didn’t do enough to improve the team).

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      • NarkusMaslund
        October 23, 2013

        It’s both positive, and negative. I’d agree that Gillis found talent where others couldn’t see it, but also agree he didn’t do enough to improve the team. As great as those acquisitions were, he could have make all those acquisitions while also making a real “reset” type move (would have had to come on the trade front since the money wasn’t there for a bigger splash). Of course, the obvious retort is that there wasn’t such a trade out there that actually would have been to the team’s benefit, and I think we all agree that making a bad trade for the purposes of making a trade would be a terrible idea.

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  2. Naturalmystic
    October 23, 2013

    Vancouver needs more than 2 lines to go anywhere in the post season. San Jose will take Vancouver’s lunch money and stuff them in a locker if they meet in the post-season.

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    • DanD
      October 23, 2013

      Agreed, but to be fair, San Jose looks like they could do that to just about any team in the league this season.

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      • shoes
        October 23, 2013

        SJS have looked like they could do that every Oct-Nov, since about 2002.

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    • Neil B
      October 23, 2013

      Of course you are correct.

      Of course, the problem with the observation is that it’s the first & third lines that were going up to last game, when Kess & Higgins had a party on Long Island. So now we have a first line, a second line, a third line that drives possession & has at least one decent shooter (Santa), and a fourth line that can, at times, provide meaningful minutes & tertiary scoring (Weise, Richardson).

      If Vancouver can help Florida out with their rumoured fire sale (we have at least $1.85 mill–we won’t keep both Dalpe & Welsh up, and the only reason that Jensen is still on the books is because he’s injured) to bolster the bottom 6, then we’ll be in much better shape.

      The question with San Jose is can they keep it up (heh, Thornton) into the post-season. They’ve not been very good at that to date.

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      • Marcus
        October 23, 2013

        That Thornton comment got a rise out of me.

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      • Naturalmystic
        October 23, 2013

        “The question with San Jose is can they keep it up (heh, Thornton) into the post-season. They’ve not been very good at that to date.”

        They had enough awesome left over to pimp slap Vancouver when it mattered.

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        • akiddd
          October 23, 2013

          the sharks are a new team. the young guys haven’t learned to lose yet. so…we’ll see.

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  3. Cam Charron
    October 23, 2013

    Yesss gold medal

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  4. JDM
    October 23, 2013

    Since when does Cam Charron post on the Enemy’s blog? Actually since when does the principal blogger for The Leafs Nation run the CanucksArmy twitter account?! SACRILEGE

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    • Cam Charron
      October 23, 2013

      1 – Canucks Army and Pass it to Bulis have a natural partnership in being purveyors of fine Canucks content, and we’re stronger when we build on each other’s ideas.

      2 – I follow the Canucks, but I prefer to write about the Leafs because their games end at 7:00 and not 10:00, so I have more time to drink booze.

      Being a blogger is tough work sometimes.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        October 23, 2013

        Agreed. Nothing but love for the enemy over here.

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    • Joel
      October 23, 2013

      Actually, Cam ran Canucks Army way before he took over the Leafs Nation… so it isn’t sacrilege so much as being a double agent and infiltrating the enemy? ;-)

      Or to put it another way, the Leafs didn’t make the playoffs until they got someone running their end of the blogosphere that actually has seen live hockey in May…

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  5. J21
    October 23, 2013

    Might — MIGHT — need some context for that ‘gold’ tweet there.

    I imagine you guys wrote this up before Welsh played his second game, but by all accounts he didn’t look out of place, and his ice time was more than doubled.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 23, 2013

      Yeah, the deadline for our paper content is Monday for getting published on Wednesday. Welsh briefly skated on the third line last night, so we’ll see where he goes from here.

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  6. J21
    October 23, 2013

    OK, scratch that first comment — the Twitter images hadn’t loaded and I thought the commentaries were the tweets themselves…!

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  7. mb13
    October 23, 2013

    It’s impossible to have a serious conversation about Mike Gillis’ performance.

    If people hang on to the notion that trading a 1st rounder for Ballard was justifiable, Kassian is good return for Hodgson and Booth is a good player… then it’s impossible for Gillis to fail. I would underline impossible if I could.

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    • Neil B
      October 23, 2013

      Trading for Ballard was justifiable. Keeping him for sooo loooong,when he clearly didn’t have te coach’s confidence, was a serious waste of available assets. At some point, you need to fish or cut bait. Even if you can’t get a good return for him, you can at least free up his salary and reallocate it (for instance, giving it to Ehrhoff, whom we have never replaced).

      It’s way to early to judge Kassian vs. Hodgson in terms of the players themselves. The learning curve for PF vs. shooter are too different for comparisons 1-2 years in. Let’s leave out the great PFs and talk about David Clarkson, a decent PF. He showed some promise in his second full year; he didn’t fully prosper until his 5th.

      GMMG did not get a good ‘bridge’ centre to take Hodgson’s spot on the 3rd line until the younger players were ready. That’s clearly a failure on his part.

      Booth is an average 2nd liner who gets hurt ‘way too much. I’m not sure how much of Booth’s injuries were predictble beforehand. I don’t recall that being part of the conversation when he came in, and I’m not sure that blame can be placed on the GM for not forseeing it. Gillis certainly hasn’t (pending the results of the current team) fostered the depth necessary to survive injuries to the top 6. That’s a serious mark against MG’s tenure.

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      • mb13
        October 24, 2013

        OK – again, you prove my point.

        You can’t judge Mike Gillis if you always justify his failures.

        “Booth is an average” 2nd liner. No he is not. Average 2nd liners do not score 1 goal in 48 games. That is reserved for probably the worst 5% of 2nd liners in the league… if you’re the worst 5% of something, it would be almost impossible to be better than average. Booth is terrible – full stop.

        Some might claim that it is early to judge the Kassian trade. The point is not who wins/loses that trade but how does one maximize return. If you are going to trade Cody – why do you it at the 11th hour and 59th minute before the deadline? You’re telling me the best return they could get for Cody was Zack Kassian?

        And we haven’t brought up his biggest failure which is the goalie fiasco. For what the league considers to be a consensus top 10 goalie with potential to improve on that, Gillis got one draft pick. Nevermind it took him 1.5 years to get the deal done and with the wrong goalie leaving town.

        So again – I repeat, what’s the point of discussing Gillis’ track record if people can’t agree on his failures being failures. And guess what guys – there’s a lot of failures. And Gillis should be calling Burke and Nonis daily for leaving him with Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa, Edler, Hansen, Luongo and Schneider – or as GMMG calls it, a bare cupboard which I rode to the finals.

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  8. akiddd
    October 23, 2013

    one way things appear is that with tortorella there is some division of church and state between management and coaching. tortorella seems disinclined to ice a lineup just to prop up gillis’ decisions. hence he sits booth. and was pretty frank with his explanation. dalpe gets 4 mins per, as well as sestito etc. and he just plays the bejeezus out of anyone who really is a competent nhler.

    so far i’ve been in pretty good agreement with the lineup side of things.

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