I wanted to take a few days to collect my thoughts before writing this post. If I wrote this the day of or the day after the Canucks were swept out of the playoffs I would have probably went on a highly expletive filled rant calling for the entire organization to light itself on fire. I still may do this by the time I’m done this post…but anyhoo. The Canucks have disappointed it’s impatient fan base yet again. This time in premium fashion, getting their sh%$ handed to them in an embarrassing 4 game sweep. The days that have followed have been filled with many ideas from the fan base, most of these ideas being of the lets publicly execute the entire team variety. In this post I am going to give my evaluation of the Canucks and what I would do if some voodoo magic occurred and I woke up as Mike Gillis tomorrow.
If I woke up as Mike Gillis I obviously can’t fire myself, but I would do something stupid to convince the owners to fire me (yeah I could resign, but might as well go out like a bauss). Gillis has been awful in the draft as the Canucks have zero help in terms of NHL ready prospects to help fill some holes in the line up. His trades have also blown thick chunks. His trades with Florida have been awful with both Booth and Ballard likely headed for a buyout this summer. Another area where he has failed miserably is in the re-signing department. I’m not complaining about the players he kept, it’s the contracts that have ruined this teams finances for the next decade. He also has given out no trade clauses like candy making it next to impossible to move any pieces that have any sort of value. Gillis has been awful and unfortunately he’ll likely be kept as the owners seem to for some reason still have confidence in the guy.
With Gillis likely staying the next thing that needs to be addressed is the coaching staff. If I was the GM I would have fired AV at last Thursday’s press conference. This wouldn’t be out of anger, it would be out of respect. Why drag the guy along for weeks if you know in your heart you’re going to fire him anyway. 2 first round exits all but seal his fate even though he has delivered winning season after wining season. We all know in sports, the coach is always the fall guy when a team repeatedly falls below expectations. AV’s been a great coach for the Canucks and deserves to be let go as soon as possible so he can find employment quickly.
Now onto the players. The first thing that needs to be looked at is the goalie situation. Gillis made a mess of this situation, first by signing Lu to an outrageous contract and second, by not trading Lu before or during the season. The never ending soap opera between the pipes had to wear on the locker room in some way. Trading Lu now for any type of real value will be next to impossible. He’s still a good goalie and many teams would love to have him as their guy; however, everyone knows Gillis is desperate and thus, will offer garbage for the franchise’s best ever goalie. This next scenario won’t happen, but if I was GM I would be bold and move Schneider. Why? Not because I think Lu is a vastly superior goalie, but because Cory would bring back much more in a trade than Lu. Would you trade Schneider to Colorado for the #1 pick in this year’s draft and maybe also get some other useful parts back? I would in a heartbeat.
How about the rest of the “core” players? I’m talking the Sedins, Kesler, Bieksa, Edler, Hamhuis, Burrows. Are any of these guys untouchable? I don’t think any of them are untouchable per se, but I would lean on keeping the twins, Kesler and Bieksa. I know the twins have been awful in the playoffs and seem to be slowing down a bit, but they are still premier offensive players that are hard to find/replace. Kesler and Bieksa are the heart and soul of this team. We’ve seen what happens when either of these 2 guys are out of the lineup. Hamhuis and Burrows are good players, but I think they are expendable. The twins can work their magic with almost anyone being the 3rd wheel. Hansen and Kassian looked just fine in their limited moments with the twins. If Burrows could bring back some draft picks or some younger blood I’d send him packing. Hamhuis still is thought of as a premier defender and for good reason. He’s also a BC boy so parting with him would be tough, but trading the hammer would definitely bring some tasty treats back. With a solid Garrison and youngsters Tanev and Corrado, the Canucks may have some room to move one or two of their premier D. If the Canucks can find a taker who thinks Alex Edler is still going to be the next Nick Lidstrom they should ship him to this fool immediately. Edler just does not look like he is going to be the #1 defenceman the Canucks thought he’d be. His mobility is questionable, his shot is hard but rarely finds the net, his zone coverage is borderline dreadful and his passing ability is definitely not Lidstrom-esque let alone Salo-esque.
How about the 2nd tier players? Hansen, Higgins, Kassian, Raymond, Roy, Lapierre…I can tell you right now UFA’s Roy and Raymond are not coming back. If Raymond somehow comes back I’ll throw pooh at Rogers Arena. He has been awful…useless even. He has great speed and a decent shot; however, his skate into the zone and stop at the halfboards to fall or give the puck away routine is downright infuriating. Please don’t do it Gillis…please just let Raymond go. Roy is skilled and the Canucks need more guys like him, but he’s not worth $5 mil per. Hansen is solid and I’d try to lock him up with an extension. Hansen could probably play with the twins and thrive, he’s gotten better every year. Higgins has already been extended and is a valuable asset that can play anywhere in the lineup. Kassian is a beast and will only get better. I want to see the big toothless youngster up in the top 6 next year. Lappy is solid in the faceoff circle and would be a decent 4th line plugger if he still will play for around a $1mil per. Anything more and I’d pass.
As you can see I’m not liking a complete blow up of this team; however, I am saying some of the premium talent needs to be shipped out for skill, youth and picks. The team needs playmakers, snipers, feisty bangers, guys who will get ploughed in front of the net and still keep an evil smile on their face. Too many times do we see the Canucks race into the zone and keep all their play to the perimeter and hope a wrist shot from 40 feet will hit off 4 sticks and go into the net. They also desperately need a 3rd line centre. Ever since they lost Malholtra they have not had a consistent 3rd line. Higgins and Weise would be solid on a 3rd line…man would Steve Ott look good between them…sigh.
As I mentioned earlier the Canucks are devoid of NHL ready prospects. It will be tricky to both build for the future in acquiring picks, but also keeping a playoff worthy roster. I think it’s definitely possible, but if Gillis makes anymore trade gaffs we could be looking at a Calgary Flames situation here in Vancouver…you know, a team with no hope for 8-10 years.