McKenzie: Islanders Would be Interested in Luongo Deal Under "Right Circumstances"

Thomas Drance
May 30 2013 02:53PM

Okay everybody, dust off your Rick DiPietro jokes and load up the capgeek.com/Islanders page because we've got ourselves a live one. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie it's concievable that Garth Snow and the New York Islanders might have interest in a Roberto Luongo trade "under the right circumstances."

Yes "under the right circumstances" is a vague, catch all qualifier but still, this is a big nugget about a potential Roberto Luongo deal from the godfather of hockey coverage. So obviously we'll talk about it at greater length on the other side of the jump.

It makes sense that the New York Islanders would pursue Roberto Luongo this offseason. Realistically they were a quality goaltender away from giving the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins a realistic scare in the first round series between the two clubs earlier this spring. What makes less sense is "gauging cost on Nabokov" who turns 38 this summer, and struggled enormously all season long (and in the postseason too). Nabokov is just not a good bet to give you average goaltending over the next season or two, frankly.

What makes a lot more sense than Nabokov's contract status as a fly in the ointment here, I'd think, is RIck DiPietro's massive contract which extends for eight more seasons at a cost of 4.5 million per year (both cap hit and salary). According to capgeek.com the cost of his buyout is 24 million spread over 16 seasons (1.5 million per year). In addition to DiPietro's well documented durability issues, he has very probably been the league's worst regular starter in between the 2004-05 and 2012 NHL lockouts. It's extremely tough for me to imagine the Islanders - owned by notorious spendthrift Charles Wang - having both Luongo and DiPietro on the books at the same time...

Perhaps DiPietro becomes involved in some way (a trade and buyout perhaps?) in a potential Roberto Luongo deal (which is what McKenzie suggests would happen), in which case I'd imagine the Canucks could recover significant value from the New York Islanders for Luongo. Nino Niederreiter and additional draft picks, anyone? That would be something indeed, though taking on a 24 million dollar liability would be one hell of an investment on the part of Canucks ownership.

Alternatively, perhaps the Islanders are just the latest in a long line of teams to realize they have a need in goal, that the best option avaiable by a long shot is Roberto Luongo, and that there's a chance they can acquire him for pennies on the dollar. That's what's so fun about the "under the right circumstances" qualifier, it could mean literally anything.

Obviously this is something to keep a close eye on, whether or not the Canucks ultimately move Roberto Luongo to the team that originally drafted him this summer. If it goes down: it'll be huge news, and if it doesn't then hopefully the fall out involves as much colourful swearing as the last time the Canucks and Islanders got close to a goaltender trade that wasn't consummated.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 kaybee
May 30 2013, 02:58PM
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If the Canucks are expected to take DiPietro back and buy him out, I expect a good piece to come back, not "pennies on the dollar."

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#3 DamnYouEhrhoff
May 30 2013, 03:07PM
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Would love a Nino Niederreiter coming back, that could be a realistic return for luongo + service of buying out dipietro's contract.

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#4 Jeff Angus
May 30 2013, 03:09PM
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Isles have a bevy of good young talent - Donovan, Niederreiter, Cizikas, Nelson, etc. etc. Lots of potential for a trade there.

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#5 DamnYouEhrhoff
May 30 2013, 03:20PM
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Gonna be super interesting to see how much GM's will value getting bad contracts off their books. Hell we could even see a 1st rounder coming back for buying out that monolithic of a contract.

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#6 Origamirock
May 30 2013, 04:36PM
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The Burke/Milbury/Snow link is a perfect example that shows so much happens backstage that we (the public) don't know about. All the armchair GM fans calling for Gillis' head and criticizing all the moves he does/doesn't make should probably go ahead and read that story.

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#7 NM00
May 30 2013, 04:41PM
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@Origamirock

The fact that Gillis has made a number of poor moves has nothing to do with the fact that a GM has a difficult job.

That's the nature of the business. It doesn't mean GMs should get to keep their jobs forever when the tangible mistakes are apparent to all.

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#8 Hawk
May 30 2013, 04:46PM
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make it happen Gillis!! Nino in return would be awesome.

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#9 Kaybee
May 30 2013, 05:30PM
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"That's the nature of the business. It doesn't mean GMs should get to keep their jobs forever when the tangible mistakes are apparent to all."

Doesn't mean savvy, competent GMs should get fired every time fans stamp their feet, either. Perfect track records are imaginary, impossible expectations.

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#10 NM00
May 30 2013, 05:32PM
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Kaybee wrote:

"That's the nature of the business. It doesn't mean GMs should get to keep their jobs forever when the tangible mistakes are apparent to all."

Doesn't mean savvy, competent GMs should get fired every time fans stamp their feet, either. Perfect track records are imaginary, impossible expectations.

Thanks for the strawman.

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#11 Collin
May 30 2013, 05:46PM
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To add to the craziness.

What if the Canucks included Ballard in the deal? The Islanders might lose Mark Streit to free agency this summer, so Ballard may be of use to them. They would then not need to include as many or as good of prospects as Gillis would want back for just Luongo.

This may actually be a more plausible scenario. Vancouver sheds more useless salary cap and the Islanders get useful salary as both players will actually get regular ice time.

Regardless of how he does it, if Mike Gillis can actually move Luongo and get something that improves the team I will be elated.

Also, am I the only one who doesn't hate MG or think he's a bad GM? His only fault is that he plays it too safe and calculated. People hate the Ballard trade. He was just being cautious as he wasn't sure if Hamhuis would sign. Many people hate the Luongo contract. Only fault on MG is not trading him mid-season last year when it was apparent that Schneider was the future. Also, AV could have kept Lu in net in the LA series and that would have allowed MG to maintain leverage in trade negotiations throughout last summer. Instead every GM knew MG had to trade Lu. Oh, and there's the new CBA with a significant cap reduction, but no scaling of player salaries.

Basically, MG couldn't trade Lu right after the Cup final, as it is absurd to trade the goalie who just took you there, couldn't trade him last summer due to AV and couldn't trade him after the new CBA was put in. Only time he could have traded him was mid 11-12 season before the trade deadline but was not ballsy enough to go with only Schneider at that point.

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#12 Cale
May 30 2013, 06:14PM
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@NM00

What poor moves? Not moves that didn't pan out, but moves that were legitimately bad at the time.

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#13 antro
May 30 2013, 06:32PM
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Although I too am frustrated by Gillis right now, but I think critics are forgetting what he managed to do only two years ago. His best laid plans were foiled by injuries. But the thing most seem to forget is that he *had* to sign Luongo (at the time widely recognized as the best player), and had to sign him to that kind of contract b/c that was the direction for franchise players at the time. I can't say for sure, but I'm not sure he would have been able to sign the Sedins, then Kesler, etc etc to such reasonable contracts had he not got Luongo.

Having said all that, I too am mystified a bit why he didn't try to quietly change tracks and trade Schneider, and hope to develop Lack or someone else. I do think he deserves a bit of slack b/c apparently Luongo made a trade to a team other than Florida difficult last summer, and then Gillis got stuck by the lock out, and dealig with a declining cap, etc.

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#14 NM00
May 30 2013, 06:48PM
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@Cale

1. David Backes offer sheet and how it ended up wasting money/cap space on Steve Bernier.

2. Wasting draft picks on Bernier

3. Offering Sundin 2 years $20 million and essentially daring the Sedins to leave in the process.

4. Making Luongo captain

5. Wasting a draft pick on Alberts

6. Wasting Grabner and a high draft pick on Ballard.

7. Spending $4.2 million on a 5th defenseman for the last 3 years.

8. Giving away Cody Hodgson for a light return.

9. Wasting a draft pick and an okay prospect for a few games of Derek Roy

10. Spending over $9 million on goalies this past season.

There are a number of other blunders but 10 seems like enough.

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#15 NM00
May 30 2013, 06:52PM
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@antro

Gillis never had to sign Luongo to an insane cap-circumventing contract.

Not a single team was handing out career long, cap-circumventing deals to goaltenders until Gillis brought it into fashion.

Even Rick Dipietro's career deal wasn't an attempt to circumvent the cap.

And now the Canucks will likely end up paying for Gillis' mistake.

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#16 CoLa
May 30 2013, 09:16PM
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I think this offseason will be a grand success if Gillis is able to move Luongo and Ballard for high-end young players like Niederreiter. It may be very possible if the the Canucks are willing to buyout expensive contracts like Dipietro's. This offseason will also show just how serious the Canucks' owners are about winning a Stanley Cup. If they are serious, they'll permit such buyouts.

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#17 Origamirock
May 30 2013, 10:05PM
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@NM00

Everything you said are only seen as bad moves because we have the power of 20/20 hindsight. As Cale said, these are all moves that didn't pan out, not objectively bad at the time they were made.

- The Backes offer sheet could have worked out.

- Ballard could (and should) have been a top 4 PP-contributing defenceman.

- Hodgson's "light return" is highly arguable. It's too early to call that trade one way or the other.

- Derek Roy could have worked out and the third line needed a center if they wanted to have any chance of going deep into the playoffs. Everyone and their grandmothers said that this was a good move at the time.

- Giving Luongo away for nothing would have accomplished nothing. The worst case scenario to not trading him was that you have an elite backup. The worst case scenario for trading him was that Scrivens would have started on game 1 of the playoffs (and even this was something Gillis tried to do.)

- There were no cap issues this year so having $9m dedicated to goalies made no difference. What could he have really done with the extra $5.33 million? Any free agents worth signing could have already been fit under the cap.

- Also, Luongo's contract was seen as a big win at the time it was signed. We got one of the best 3 goalies in the world for a measly cap hit of $5.33m. He could have easily commanded $7m on the open market (which is what Lundqvist and Rinne make, also: Briere, Pronger and Cammalleri!)

Now I'm not saying he hasn't made any bad moves at all. I'm just saying that we don't know everything that happens between him and other GM's and when judging him we have the benefit of hindsight.

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#18 UkeeRob
May 30 2013, 11:19PM
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@NM00

NMOO you make good points but seem to be a polarizing contributor on this site. You're not always right nor wrong. You must admit that if Gillis can get Nino+ for Luongo that would be great. Dumping Ballard's contract in the deal would be a coup too right?

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#19 NM00
May 30 2013, 11:27PM
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@Origamirock

Your defense of some of these moves is really, really a stretch.

Making an offer sheet 10 minutes into your first free agency period as a GM is predictably going to make you an enemy of other GMs. There is no hindsight about that.

Between Ballard, Hamhuis, Ehrhoff, Bieksa & Edler, one of those defenseman was the default #5. It just happened to be Ballard. Point being, there was always going to be an expensive #5 defenseman. There is no hindsight about that and I'm not even including Salo.

Making Luongo captain was always ridiculous and unnecessary.

Hodgson's light return isn't really debatable. Trading a #10 overall pick from the 2008 draft for a #13 overall pick from the 2009 draft is the definition of lost value. It's even worse because Hodgson was showing he was a useful player IN THE NHL while Kassian was shuttling back and fourth from the minors.

Paying a steep price for a few games of Roy was always, always a dumb move. Luckily NJ didn't end up accepting the 1st round pick for a few games of Clarkson. That would have been a complete disaster.

The Luongo contract was always, always dumb irrespective of the fact he was a top goalie (and he was). And on top of that, it was never designed to be traded. So Gillis compounded his earlier blunder by his next blunder: giving away Luongo or accepting a bad contract in return.

I could go on. But I'd rather you show me the "good" moves that Gillis has made. I'm talking significant (Higgins and Tanev do not qualify in my book).

I see Ehrhoff & Hamhuis/Garrison so far. Though both players came to Vancouver because the Canucks have a geographical advantage when it comes to BC born players. That has absolutely nothing to do with Gillis.

The bad massively outweighs the good in terms of the transaction record. It's not even close.

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#20 NM00
May 30 2013, 11:29PM
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@UkeeRob

How about we stop living in a fantasy world where the Islanders take on all of the Canuck problems and give up a blue chip youngster in the progress?

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#21 CoLa
May 31 2013, 12:18AM
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@UkeeRob

"Nino+ for Luongo that would be great. Dumping Ballard's contract in the deal would be a coup"

I doubt the Canucks can trade Luongo + Ballard for Nino + Dipietro. But Luongo + Ballard for just Dipietro + a draft pick is very possible. The Canucks then use one compliance buyout on Dipietro.

The Canucks can then use their other buyout to buy a good prospect from a team like the Panthers (Upshall) or Lightning (Lecavelier).

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#22 UkeeRob
May 31 2013, 08:05AM
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@CoLa

Wow and NMOO thought I was fantasizing! You really think Aquilini would cough up the money to buy out both Dipietro and Lecavalier!

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#23 antro
May 31 2013, 09:40AM
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@NM00:

You do remember that the Canucks got within a single win of a Stanley Cup and won back to back President's Trophies, yes? The second of these president trophies is only a year ago. The year they went to the SCF they especially dominated 5v5 largely due to the excellent moves by Gillis, much of which got derailed in the playoffs due to increasing injuries (Malhotra, Hamhuis, Raymond, Kesler's hip, etc). Before Gillis came, Luongo was extremely unhappy, and Nonis was still pursuing players like Fabian Brunnstrom. That was one of the central reasons Nonis got canned. As Gilman pointed out, w/o the Luongo contract being shaped the way it was, they wouldn't have had space to get everyone for the Stanley Cup run.

Many of your criticisms simply don't take into consideration the context (as several have pointed out). Just one example, Gillis didn't know he'd get Hamhuis when he traded for Ballard. Plus, if you go and read the many articles on how he has signed most players here to reasonable contracts (Burrows 4 yr $8 million, just as a starter). All GM's have made bets that haven't panned out (just go read intelligent blogs from other teams).

As frustrating as this season has been, I'm really having a hard time finding your narrative of "bad moves" compelling. This is a good GM who's had a frustrating year.

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#24 CoLa
May 31 2013, 09:56AM
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UkeeRob wrote:

Wow and NMOO thought I was fantasizing! You really think Aquilini would cough up the money to buy out both Dipietro and Lecavalier!

That's called doing what it takes to be a perennial cup contender. If the Aquilini's aren't willing to spend the money when there's a chance to improve the team, then the Canucks aren't a perennial contender.

In that case, management should follow the Blackhawks/Penguins example. Do poorly for a few seasons, get some high-end draft picks (eg. Toews, Crosby), then contend for a few years before repeating the cycle.

If the Canucks want to be like the Red Wings who contend every season, then they better spend on that order. Note that spending is more than just salary. Stuff like scouting, player development, and buyouts are all important to building a good team.

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#25 UkeeRob
May 31 2013, 11:49AM
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@NM00

Charles Wang does some crazy things. It wouldn't be absurd to think you could get a Luongo for Dipietro swap with a prospect and or pick back too. Maybe not Nino, but hasn't it been reported that they've had their differences with him. He played his junior in Portland too. We're allowed to dream out loud, I'm not saying its going to happen.

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#26 UkeeRob
May 31 2013, 11:49AM
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@NM00

Charles Wang does some crazy things. It wouldn't be absurd to think you could get a Luongo for Dipietro swap with a prospect and or pick back too. Maybe not Nino, but hasn't it been reported that they've had their differences with him. He played his junior in Portland too. We're allowed to dream out loud, I'm not saying its going to happen.

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#27 NM00
May 31 2013, 11:58AM
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@antro

"You do remember that the Canucks got within a single win of a Stanley Cup and won back to back President's Trophies, yes? The second of these president trophies is only a year ago."

Yes, I do. You do remember that the Canucks have 1 win and 8 losses in the last 2 playoffs, yes? If we're going to play the cherrypicking game, the recent past is more useful than the less recent past.

"The year they went to the SCF they especially dominated 5v5 largely due to the excellent moves by Gillis".

WRONG. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Correlation does not equal causation. Gillis acquired core players Ehrhoff & Hamhuis and secondary players Samuelsson, Malhotra, Torres & Higgins.

The other core players (Luongo, Bieksa, Edler, Salo, Sedins, Kesler, Burrows) as well as some of the secondary players were brought in by the previous regimes. And in all likelihood, all of those players would have been extended by Nonis. Remember, Nonis had previously signed each of those players to contracts as well.

"Before Gillis came, Luongo was extremely unhappy, and Nonis was still pursuing players like Fabian Brunnstrom".

Your armchair psychology into the state or Roberto Luongo's mindset is meaningless. And, for what it's worth, I feel pretty confident Luongo was unhappier this past season riding the bench than during his 2 years with Nonis.

Also, it's funny that you mention Brunnstrom. Because the guy Gillis acquired to play with the Sedins was Bernier. Even if Brunnstrom had the same career path in Vancouver, it would have been better to have signed him than waste a 2nd and 3rd round pick on Bernier. If Nonis were making those picks, it could have been a Mason Raymond or an Alex Edler since, you know, he actually drafted very well during his time in Vancouver relative to his draft positions.

And the Sedins would have been extended 11 months earlier in all likelihood with Nonis. Correct me if I'm wrong, but when Gillis came into the organization he questioned whether or not the Sedins were front line players. And the Sedins admitted it would have been easier to work out a contract with Nonis because of their longstanding relationship.

"As Gilman pointed out, w/o the Luongo contract being shaped the way it was, they wouldn't have had space to get everyone for the Stanley Cup run."

You should never trust what an executive says. His first job is self preservation. But if I play devil's advocate and accept what Gilman says, it doesn't matter. One Stanley Cup run does not justify an unneccessary twelve year contract. Period.

"Gillis didn't know he'd get Hamhuis when he traded for Ballard."

Again, that does not justify spending that kind of money on a 5th defenseman. It never, ever, ever made sense to have one of Ehrhoff, Edler, Bieksa, Hamhuis & Ballard playing on a 3rd pairing.

"I'm really having a hard time finding your narrative of "bad moves" compelling. This is a good GM who's had a frustrating year."

Your swiss cheese narrative wasn't too hard to break down. If you think Gillis is so good, show me the moves. Give me some evidence.

As I've said, contract extensions are overrated as a skill. Ray Shero isn't a genius because he "convinced" Sidney Crosby to sign back to back extensions. Crosby is represented by a professional agent who knows the implications of the contract he signs. Same with the Canuck guys.

As I've also said, signing BC born defenseman isn't a skill either. Nonis signed Mitchell. As much as I think Nonis was building the team the proper way (through the draft and a fantastic franchise-changing trade), I can't give him that much credit for signing a guy who wanted to play in BC. Any Canuck GM could do that.

Ehrhoff is the one great impact move where I will give Gillis a ton of credit. It was amazing.

There have also been some decent secondary moves (Torres, Samuelsson, Manny), though there have been just as many poor secondary moves that haven't worked out (Bernier, Alberts, Ryan Johnson etc).

The one amazing trade for Ehrhoff does not justify the litany of bad.

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#28 antro
May 31 2013, 01:10PM
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@NM00:

How many teams managed to beat LA--nay, win one game against LA--last year in the playoffs?

So *who's* cherry-picking?!

In a results-oriented business, mentioning that the guy got within a win of the SCF and 2 straight Presidents' Trophies is for you "cherry-picking."

Nonis wasn't building the team through the draft. His drafting was about as good as Gillis'. This isn't b/c Nonis or Gillis are so bad at drafting, but rather because (as many many bloggers have shown), after the first 20 or so draft picks, the chance of getting someone who'll be a game changer goes down dramatically. And remember the hard years of signing fourth-liners like Brad Isbister? The Sedins also wanted 10 year contracts.

Anyway, you're right, I don't have time to go through each GM in the league comparatively and show you why I think he's a very good GM who had a hard year.

But, I think it's worth you reading a couple of your own lines:

"If you think Gillis is so good, show me the moves."

"Gillis acquired core players Ehrhoff & Hamhuis and secondary players Samuelsson, Malhotra, Torres & Higgins."

And we could add decent fourth-liner Lapierre. So, in the year of run to the SCF, Gillis was responsible for 7 out of 20 roster players in 2 years. No, you're right, he had nothing to do with getting a good team together.

I don't totally disagree with you, but I do think you have some major contradictions in your argument. For the rest, we'll just respectfully agree to disagree.

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#29 NM00
May 31 2013, 02:00PM
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@antro

"And we could add decent fourth-liner Lapierre. So, in the year of run to the SCF, Gillis was responsible for 7 out of 20 roster players in 2 years. No, you're right, he had nothing to do with getting a good team together."

Do you want to add Oreskevich as well? Let's not act like any GM couldn't have acquired Lapierre or another depth centre.

Nonis drafted much, much better than Gillis. Look at his history and compare. It's not even close.

Gillis drafts safe/low ceiling guys. Must have learned that from 'Moneyball'.

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#30 NM00
May 31 2013, 02:00PM
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@antro

"major contradictions in your argument"

Please point out these contradictions. I'm more than happy to address what you believe them to be.

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