Canucks will pick 24th at what could be a fascinating 2013 NHL Draft

Photograph: Bri Weldom via Wikimedia Commons

With the Red Wings falling short against the Chicago Blackhawks in game seven of the Western Conference Semifinal series which was completed on Wednesday, the NHL’s final four is set. Also set as a result of Wednesday night’s thrilling game seven? Vancouver’s place in the 2013 NHL Draft order. 

At the 2013 NHL draft in Newark, the Canucks will select a draft eligible player 24th overall in the first round, and then again with the 85th pick of the draft, the 115th pick, the 145th pick, the 175th pick, and finally the 205th pick in the seventh round. But more important than any prospects whom the Canucks might select, are the opportunities presented to them exclusively at the draft to improve the team through trades and creative manipulation of the new collective bargaining agreement (which of course we haven’t seen yet). Read past the jump.

I’m mostly writing this to point out that this years draft could be an extraordinarily interesting one. We haven’t seen the post-lockout CBA yet, but assuming the "special" compliance buyouts work in much the same way standard buyouts worked under the 2005 NHL CBA, there will be a short window – like, maybe only a week – between the end of the Stanley Cup Final and July 5th, in which teams can utilize one (or both) of their compliance buyouts. 

So if the Canucks are going to use one of their compliance buyouts creatively, and the other one on Keith Ballard, and of course they should, it would seem very likely that the draft is the place to get their ducks in a row.

There are a couple of ways Mike Gillis could creatively use a compliance buyout, as I see it.  He could use one as a way of mitigating the "poison pill" factor of Roberto Luongo’s contract, or he can use one to straight up purchase an asset (presuming the Aquilinis are willing to spend that sort of money).

If the team were to use a buyout to mitigate the "poison pill" factor of Luongo’s contract, that would involve accepting a bad deal in a hypothetical Luongo deal (say Ed Jovanovski or Scott Upshall from Florida) and turning around and buying that deal out, while also presumably recouping some value for Vancouver’s elite and yet supposedly immovable star goaltender.

The straight purchase angle is a wee bit different, but Jason Botchford touched on it a few weeks ago. The way I see it, a rich team should always be looking to "purchase" talent when possible, rather than engaging in a more traditional hockey trade. Why? Because in a purchase you get something for nothing (except money, which who cares), whereas in a hockey trade you give up something of value to get something. Vancouver’s prospect cupboard is barren, and though the team has some surplus talent along the blue-line, defensive depth is critical and developing and maintaining it has been a key feature of Mike Gillis’s managerial modus operandi.

I’d mention that Mike Gillis has "purchased" talent in the recent past as Canucks General Manager. That’s what happened when the Canucks acquired Christian Ehrhoff and a 1.8 million dollar liability (Brad Lukowich) in exchange for two nothing prospects. It happened again when the Canucks "purchased" David Booth and took on Steven Reinprecht’s contract in exchange for two oft-injured oldsters with limited value on expiring contracts. The other example I can think of off the top of my head was Brian Burke’s "purchase" of Cody Franson, for which the purchase price was taking on Matt Lombardi’s onerous deal…

A couple of levers in the new collective bargaining agreement, notably the compliance buyouts and the team’s newfound power to retain salary in trades, will give Mike Gillis more options than he’s had in the past for some much needed creative destruction with the Canucks roster. Though Gillis has become King Midas in reverse over the past couple of years, one thing he’s excelled at consistently is in taking full advantage of the collective bargaining agreement where he can. He’ll have more opportunity, and more need, than he’s ever had to utilize his CBA mastery at the 2013 NHL draft…

  • My understanding is that’s not the case (though it’s tough to know for sure since we haven’t seen the new CBA). The only known restriction is that you cannot re-sign a player you buyout for a period of one year.

  • Thom – under the new CBA , do we know yet if you can get a one way salary off the books by sending the player to the minors? I thought I heard this loophole was closed due to the Wade Redden’s contract went down.

    If it is true, there goes a means to purchase a player.

  • I’m more interested in how the Canucks ended up picking 24th. 14 teams didn’t make the playoffs. 8 were eliminated n the first round. So at worst they should be picking 22nd. Why is the NHLs draft order so messed up?

  • @andrew

    14 non playoff teams + 8 teams currently not in the playoffs seeded after us puts us at 23 and because we won our division and st.louis having more points but not winning the division they still pick before us.

  • Thom,

    A Gary Mason interview on 1040 w BMac earlier this week left me w the impression that the Aquilini’s will not buyout anyone. Full stop. He was quite adamant on the Aquilini point of view regarding buyouts. He said he’s been doing quite a bit of sleuthing into the mindset of the Italians and management.
    If this is true this must put a damper on Gillis’ ability to make a move(s)/trade(s) at the draft, no?

    • JCDavies

      “Aquilini’s will not buyout anyone. Full stop.”

      If that’s true then I’d scratch the Canucks off my list of teams willing to do what it takes to win the Cup and be a perennial contender.

  • JCDavies

    If we are looking at the “purchasing” talent angle, why not try to trade Ballard for an even worse contract. The Canucks and the other team would essentially be swapping compliance buyouts and maybe the Canucks can get some value in return. Ballard’s contract isn’t great but it seems like a waste of a buyout.