As the Vancouver Canucks offence has shriveled up and gone AWOL there has been mounting pressure on Mike Gillis to make a deal; from both the “pretend” and real media alike, and even more so from the fans. The preferred target of any deal would of course be an impact forward that could play in Vancouver’s top six or if they can’t land that, a third line center.
There are several variables to factor into any hypothetical trade here like who they would get, what they would give up and how will that player fit with the Canucks – and even when one knows them the outcome is generally impossible to predict. Taking this into account, even someone so opinionated as I can’t judge a trade that hasn’t happened yet, even with Gillis’ track record. What I can do, however, is opine against making a trade and opine against it I shall.
At the very crux of this argument – about whether the Canucks should make a deal or not – is my belief that this team is no longer a serious threat to compete for a Stanley Cup and as such they should not act under such delusions. One would think that their status as a playoff bubble team right now (in 9th place in the West, with a 11-8-3 record good for 25 points in a league high 22 games played) would speak for itself on that front, but hey, legitimacy as a contender is in the eyes of the beholder, or something, right?
Even if they aren’t a contender for the Stanley Cup this season, I still think they are a playoff team and have been playing much better than their record indicates – no need to panic. They are the eighth best possession team at evens (52.2% Corsi, which is a possession metric that uses shot attempts as a proxy for possession) and the return of David Booth, Jannik Hansen and eventually Dale Weise will most likely mean they’ll be playing better, soon enough.
What the Canucks need to do, more than anything, is weather this storm and stick to their game in the hopes that they will soon start catching some breaks. What they are right now is a victim of horrible luck, as exemplified by their 7.5 shooting percentage at evens and 5.8% on the powerplay (which is the lowest powerplay SH% in the league, FYI). A shooting percentage that low just isn’t sustainable, and the Canucks are likely to see an improvement in that category.
Another, very obvious reason that Vancouver should be reticent to start wheeling and dealing is the suddenly solid prospect pipeline that is full of players that will be looking for roster spots as soon as next season. If the Canucks trade for a rental it could come at the expense of their prospect pool and realistically won’t make them a contender overnight; if they were to trade for a long term fit, it could take away a roster spot from one of those prospects going into next season and beyond. What happens then to the already lackluster youth movement in Vancouver?
After so many glorious years as a contender, this rebuild on the fly type thing has been difficult for a large chunk of this fanbase to come to terms with. But whether they agree with the tactic or not, it’s almost doomed to failure if not treated with the utmost care and patience. This team is building for the future, and should in no way harm it for this season. Besides, the last time Gillis made a big trade he sent a starting caliber goaltender out of town for… one draft pick.
Follow J.D. Burke on Twitter: @JDylanBurke