Mike Gillis holds barely audible draft floor interview.
Video via @Wyshynski
I’ll admit that I’m of two minds about the deal that sent Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils straight up for the pick that became Bo Horvat. On the one hand, a top-ten pick in a deep draft is a solid return for an unproven starter. On the other, this was handled embarrassingly by the Canucks organization, the clubs overall indecision on this front is not a good look, and it ultimately worked out poorly for the club.
Never mind that keeping Roberto Luongo was ultimately a necessity imposed on the team by the realities of the market, keeping Luongo and dealing Schneider was absolutely the right call from a "hockey value perspective." It’s also a preferable outcome, in my view, to keeping Schneider and buying out Luongo (it’s obvious now, also, that a compliance buyout of Luongo’s deal was in fact a non-starter for Canucks ownership). But the internal logic of keeping Roberto Luongo dictates that you need to recieve a "now" piece in return, in my view, a piece that helps you win with Luongo in net during the teams current, evaporating championship window, rather than a quality future asset…
Whether it’s the CBA that’s to blame, or ownership, or poor management, or a bit of all three, this is undoubtedly a messy resolution to Vancouver’s goaltending situation and a black eye for Mike Gillis and the team…
Read past the jump.
Mike Gillis addressed the press over the draft floor railing after the first round, while a handful of other executives made use of the makeshift podiums away from the clutter, noise and music of the draft floor. During his availability Mike Gillis told the media:
"For the past year we’ve explored every option that we possibly could have. Things were heating up this week, and it’s not that it didn’t go away and that was the situation we were in. We found that for our organization and our fans and all of our sponsors we had to do something to get the situation resolved.
So fourteen months into the process and finally Gillis admits that he was under pressure to resolve the situation… He elaborated further on the choices he faced:
"It’s a very difficult decision to make between two really quality people, and quality goaltenders. At the end of the day we didn’t feel there was a drop off in either ones play. It really came down to where we could get the most value and we did it with Cory, and now we have a young player coming out of here in a strong draft, a big first-round pick that’s really important to us."
Gillis also blamed the collective bargaining agreement for changing the environment and making Luongo’s deal immovable.
He dropped a really interesting quote that serves to underscore the teams dithering when Gillis said that "three years ago the plan was to develop Schneider and move him for a high pick." Obviously the Canucks abandoned that original plan when Schneider played really well (while Luongo sputtered in the 2011 postseason), and then this past week that plan changed again. Vancouver’s indecision with Schneider and Luongo inarguably hurt them, and there’s no way to spin that..
But let’s get real, these comments and any others Gillis might make ring hollow. As a result of John Kerry-like indecision the club has missed opportunities to improve their team by dealing Cory Schneider in the past. They’ve also alienated Roberto Luongo over the last year and a bit by "choosing Schneider". Making matters worse is that none of the teams moves on Sunday served to clear a sufficient amount of cap space, or address the massive hole at centre in the bottom-six of Vancouver’s forward group.
Optics and dramatics aside, if we take a look at where the Canucks sit today following their first round moves, we see a dramatically strengthened prospect pipeline, and a club that still employs a top-flight goaltender (presuming their diplomatic outreach to Luongo is successful this summer). The way Vancouver’s goaltending situation played out wasn’t pretty – quite the opposite frankly – and compounding mistakes were clearly made. In terms of popular perception, this will go down in the "loss" column for Vancouver’s management team. But at least it’s over with and resolved, and the Canucks can now move forward.
That they’ll do so with a pretty good player in Bo Horvat should be noted, even if it shouldn’t excuse the gongshow way this fiasco played out.