Flash back to April of 2008, which saw the Vancouver Canucks miss out on the postseason for the second time in three years. There were strong assets in place, but changes needed to be made. The team replaced then general manager Dave Nonis, with Mike Gillis – a player agent, with no prior managing experience.
What ensued has been a glorious, and beautiful partnership that no Canucks fan can complain about. The team is currently in the midst of the greatest run in franchise history. Have there been some hiccups along the way? Sure. And maybe there’s a list that encompasses those blunders coming next week (that’s what we in the industry call a tease, folks).
But today, I’ll be counting down the Top-10 transactions – which includes signings, draft picks, trades, and even choosing to employ certain personnel as part of the management team – of the Mike Gillis era, starting with numbers 10-6.
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Here’s something that you may not know about me – I’m always making lists. In fact, it’s probably why Thomas Drance cast me as a blogger on CanucksArmy. I said, "Thomas, I make lists. All the time."
And he said, "that’s exactly what I’m looking for." We haven’t looked back since.
10) Mike Gillis reels in ‘The Big One’
.. Because doing a ‘Top-9’ list would be really weird, and I’m not sure why anyone would subject themselves to it. In those regards, choosing to stop short, and do a list of nine has plenty in common with willingly being an Edmonton Oilers fan. Except only one of those makes you want to light your genetalia on fire.
And let’s face facts – it took some impressive maneuvering to haul that bad boy in.
9) Canucks acquire David Booth
.. for what were essentially two rotting corpses. I enjoy a good ol’ fashioned Mikael Samuelsson interview – where he clumsily attempts to break down a scoring play – as much as the next guy, but by the end of his stay in Vancouver, it was painful watching him move around on the ice. He was like an overweight ballerina. He had his moments in 2010, most of which came after the Swedish national team fired him up by overlooking him for the Olympics. But it was time to say goodbye.
As for Sturm, I vehemently disliked the signing from the very beginning, and don’t even want to waste this sacred space with any more talk of his tenure as a Canuck.
Which brings us to Booth, who is a dynamic scoring winger, currently in the prime of his career. He’s exactly what the Canucks desperately need. I don’t think that it would be fair to write him off after his 56 games with the team last season – because of timing and injury, he was never able to get any sort of rhythm going with Kesler. And when he finally started to look like he was putting it all together, he suffered an injury on a dirty knee-on-knee hit. I’m expecting big things from him next season.
I’ll leave you with a few questions – if Booth were still in Florida, would people be aware of the fact that he happens to be slightly underdeveloped in-between his ears? It’s a well-known fact that you don’t have to rely on your smarts when you’re a "bro". And what would the people who like to feign outrage about his hunting be doing with their days?
8) Canucks sign Chris Tanev, and Eddie Lack
.. after 29 others teams decided that they didn’t want them. Recently, Corey Pronman released his rankings for the Canucks’ prospect pool. I noted that thanks to the team’s success in recent years, the Canucks have had to find creative ways to bring young, cheap talent into their system.
They did just that by finding two gems in the form of undrafted free agents. In Tanev, the Canucks have a player in the Dan Hamhuis mold (more on this below). If you’re into winning hockey games, and preventing goals from entering your own net, then you’ll find him to be an exciting asset for years to come. If you’re all about the highlights, then you’re destined to continually undervalue him for many, many years. Which truly is unfortunate.
As for Lack, he’s your run-of-the-mill 6’5” Swedish goaltender. What we don’t know, is what his future in the Canucks organization holds (thanks to the presence of Cory Schneider, mostly). What we do know, though, is that he has dominated the AHL for two consecutive seasons, and we have seen how coveted young goaltenders in the NHL are these days.
7) Canucks sell high on Cody Hodgson
.. which Rich Winter and Gary Roberts won’t want to hear, but sometimes the truth is unpleasant. I’m aware of the fact that I likely lost Roberts when I had that bag of Onion Rings n’ Ketchup Doritos chips last week. Losing Rich Winter though, is a big blow to my ‘My 5’.
If you’re an irrational Cody Hodgson fan, chances are that this isn’t the blog for you. He was a player who was made out to be far better than the actual skills he possesses, due to the evil genius that is the Canucks staff. I think by this point, everyone is aware that the Canucks sheltered Hodgson, in an attempt to boost his trade value by artificially inflating his point and plus/minus (it’s depressing that people still care about this stat) totals.
I’m not even going to mention the legitimate questions about his attitude, because he’s such a young kid. There are extenuating circumstances in play, and I’m willing to give him a free pass for it.
In Kassian, the Canucks received a big, physical winger who has tantalizing offensive upside. While he won’t be Milan Lucic, he has a chance to be just as valuable in a different manner. He is coming off of a great summer, and the lockout comes at a perfect time for him. He’ll be able to log big minutes in the AHL, register impressive offensive numbers, and ultimately try and play his way into a top-six role on the Canucks once the season resumes.
6) Canucks sign Laurence Gilman’s paycheques
.. and that means that other teams don’t. Gilman, who has the tag of Assistant General Manager by day, is an assassin by night. I’m sure that people often enter discussions with him with a certain thought process already instilled in their mind, knowing what they’d like to come away with. Unfortunately for them, resistance is futile. Laurence Gilman will ultimately wind up having you agree to whatever he so chooses, and you simply have to hope that he’s feeling charitable on that particular day.
It’s no secret that he’s a big reason for the Canucks’ ability to keep their best players, at extremely reasonable "home town discounts". Just by skimming through the team’s page on Cap Geek, you’ll quickly realize that there are a number of players who really could, and should, be making more – with the most notable ones being Alex Burrows (though he did get a nice raise recently), Ryan Kesler, and the pairing of Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis. Even Roberto Luongo and the Sedins have controlled cap hits, whilst Jason Garrison’s $4.6 million is far less than he was rumoured to be going for on July 1st.
I’ll be back with the Top 5 on Monday. Any guesses on what will make the list?