For the first time in his tenure as Canucks general manager, the topic of firing Mike Gillis is being discussed heavily by a significiant number of Canucks fans. This is ludicrous, of course. Mike Gillis has been in charge of the Canucks for 5 seasons and the results speak for themselves.
The team has won its division 5 times (they had only won their division 5 times since 1970 previous to that), won 2 President’s Trophies (the first 2 in club history), won 5 playoff series (they had 11 playoffs series victories in their history prior to that) including an appearance in the Stanley Cup final (for the 3rd time in team history).
A lot of people seem to forget that winning as much as the Canucks have won isn’t all that easy. Although most of the impact players in the Canucks lineup were acquired by other general managers, it was still Gillis in charge of deciding to re-sign them, and at a cheap price no less.
I’ll analyze Mike Gillis’ signings at a later date, but for today I want to take a look at his trade history. Mike Gillis has had a very poor last couple of seasons trade-wise, and deserves to be criticized for it. And criticizing is what bloggers do… right?
Here’s a look at the trades made by Mike Gillis. I have omitted low significance trades with no clear winner (like Krajicek for O’Brien) and left out insignificant minor leaguers involved in trades.
His best work
White for Ehrhoff and Lukowich:
This trade was an absolute gem. Gillis stole Christian Ehrhoff from the San Jose Sharks, who were looking to shed salary after acquiring Dany Heatley. Ehrhoff was an impact player in his 2 years with the Canucks. Patrick White, the infamous last 1st round draft pick of Dave Nonis, has never materialized into an NHL player (he’s currently playing in the German 2nd division). The Canucks were able to swing this deal because they had cap space and because they were willing to eat Brad Lukowich’s contract while he played in the AHL.
3rd round draft pick for Higgins:
A deadline deal before the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, Chris Higgins has turned out a lot better than expected. Higgins was initially expected to be boost the team’s 4th line as a rental player, but the Canucks liked what they saw and re-signed him. Two years later and he has been given another contract extension and is one of their best two-way wingers.
3rd round draft pick for Lapierre:
Also acquired at the 2011 trade deadline, Max Lapierre has been very good in blue and green. He had an excellent playoffs in 2011, filling in for the injured Manny Malhotra. He has been the lone stabilizing force on the Canucks 4th line since then, and has been a decent penalty killer for them as well.
Not so good
2nd and 3rd round draft pick for Bernier
At the time this trade seemed like a good move. The Canucks acquired a big, 23 year old former first round pick who had shown some good promise in the NHL. Bernier, a right handed shot, was supposed to come in and be the perfect fit for the Sedins. Unfortunately, Bernier had hands of stone and has turned into a 3rd or 4th line player.
3rd round draft pick for Alberts
After a rough start, Andrew Alberts has been a good depth defenceman in Vancouver. But Alberts has never played 44 games in a season, usually due to being a healthy scratch. Giving up a 3rd round draft pick simply is too high a price to pay.
Samuelsson and Sturm for Booth
This was a move to get younger, bigger and faster. David Booth might still become an excellent player in Vancouver, and if he does, this will be a good trade for the Canucks. But for the moment, Mikael Samuelsson has put up more points than David Booth. Samuelsson’s contract was expiring, while Booth’s contract ($4.25 million per year until 2015) is looking like a bit of an anchor.
Connauton and a 2nd round draft pick for Roy
I applauded this deal about a month ago, and I think it was worth a shot, but it didn’t pan out. Roy had only 6 points in 12 regular season games, and had only 1 assist in 4 playoff games. While I still don’t think that Connauton will become anything special, he had some value, as did the 2nd round draft pick they gave up.
Grabner, Bernier and a 1st round draft pick for Ballard
At the time, I thought this would be a bad deal in the long term, and it has been. What I was wrong about was that I thought it would be a good deal in the short term. When Michael Grabner scored 34 goals in the first year after the trade while Keith Ballard was a healthy scratch, that clearly wasn’t the case. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Vancouver also gave up a 1st round draft pick and have to pay Keith Ballard’s contract ($4.2 million until 2015). This trade is the most disturbing one that Gillis has made because of how many players he was wrong about. He was wrong about Ballard and Grabner, and was also wrong about Mason Raymond, the player chosen to keep over Grabner.
Hodgson and Sulzer for Kassian and Gragnani
While it’s true that Cody Hodgson wanted out, there are still a number of things I don’t like about this trade. The Canucks traded a former 10th overall draft pick who had begun to prove himself, for a former 13th overall draft pick who hadn’t proven anything at the NHL level. One year later and we’re still wondering if Zack Kassian will ever be a top 6 forward while Cody Hodgson was on pace for a 58 point season this year. Kassian might be a good player one day, but he has been a 3rd/4th liner in 2012 and 2013. For a team built to win now, it wasn’t a good acquisition. At the very least, Mike Gillis should have waited until the offseason to unload Hodgson. Instead, they entered the 2012 playoffs with a hobbled Ryan Kesler, a lack of scoring and Zack Kassian in the press box.