A Messy Resolution

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.

  • pheenster

    Does Horvat play this year?

    I’m fine with Luongo in net. The team’s problems aren’t in goal. But I do admit to wishing Schneider could have been dealt around 2011. Imagine what more scoring help could have done in that run, or even over the last two years?

      • pheenster

        “Yeah, we score more than eight goals in the Cup Finals and we’re not even talking about Lou’s bad games.”

        The Canucks could have scored a lot more goals in the 4 losses and they still could have all been losses. They were blowouts.

        I like Luongo and all but let’s not revise history with him

    • pheenster

      More offensive upside. Both two way. The question about Gaunce’s offensive was if it came because he was simply more physically developed than the players he played against.

  • pheenster

    I’m mostly glad the goalie situation appears to be solved…for now. But can’t help to think that gillis deserves to be skewered even further. He wasted a year with 10 mil-ish tied up in goalies and also could’ve had whatever prospect we got in return developing for a year or two had he done it earlier.

    For all the calmness and patience I can’t help but think the guy was completely lost on this front.

  • pheenster

    Seems we have 6 young forwards who all project as 2nd/3rd liners (Kassian, Jensen, Schroeder, Horvat, Gaunce, Shinkaruk). I don’t like the idea of trading Edler, but we need players who can eventually replace the Sedins. That, or get a scoring winger and a 3rd line centre back for that ‘win now’ thing we forgot about. Something like Wheeler and Little. Don’t have much faith Gillis will get value if he does trade him though.

  • pheenster

    Trading Schneiderman was something that had to be done. We needed to get an asset in return. Not too many prospects out there in our system. I still think we should’ve gotten a bit more for #35.

    I’m not sure how many top line prospects we have so I am concerned about that as well. Gaunce, Kass, Jensen, Horvat, Schroeder may top out as good line 2 types. Hunter might become that line 1 pure offence type guy. Regardless, they’re years away from becoming top 6 guys. I guess Kassian could be a line 1 winger that compliments a skilled centre and winger.

    I still think Gillis was a fool for giving Lu that contract. Now we have to deal with it. I wouldn’t be too hurt if we could deal Lu and that damn contract.

    Pretty impressed that the Nucks owner flew to FLA to talk to Lu about all of this. That is above and beyond. Pretty impressive there.

  • pheenster

    If this was Florida, people wouldn’t think the Luongo/Schneider thing was such a big deal.

    Because it’s Vancouver, the Canucks management are classless asset mismanagers who should be fired.

    I’d rather sit somewhere in the middle. Sure it could have been handled better, but it’s done, let’s move on. The Canucks have Roberto Luongo, the best goalie in franchise history, in net, and a top-10 draft picked prospect in a deep draft.

    I’m frankly pretty happy with how the draft turned out, since Shinkaruk slipped all the way down. I couldn’t believe it.

        • JCDavies

          How is that denigrating him?

          He fell from being projected as a top 10 pick to the late 20’s.

          Unless you think that 15+ GMs just forgot about him on their draft lists, there is a reason he wasn’t picked earlier, right?

          Now can he overcome that reason and prove the GM’s that passed on him were wrong?

          Sure. Not every star is drafted in the top 5, lots of guys come out of later rounds to be impact NHL players.

          But just stating that there is a reason he dropped in the draft isn’t a negative, just factual.

          • pheenster


            Gillis has acquired a lot of players of which other teams did not think very highly.

            Kassian, Ballard, Alberts, Roy, Bernier, Schroeder because he slipped and today’s prospect because he slipped.

            Maybe there is a reason these other teams think less of these players than Gillis?

          • pheenster

            Kassian was/is considered to have a ton of upside. He was very highly though of in Buffalo. He has huge potential and he is only 22.
            Ballard was considered the best available defencemen when we acquired him, and we needed depth on the blue line more than anything. Alberts is actually better than most people give him credit for and he proved it with his play this year. and was acquired for a 3rd round pick (practically a 4th at 85).
            Roy was a necessity when we acquired him, though I still think Schroeder should have been given the opportunity at the 3rd line c, when he actually played quite well in that roll and showed some good chemistry with Raymond and Hansen.

            I dont agree with some of Gillis’ moves but I cant stand hind sight psychics who go on an on about moves after the fact.

          • pheenster

            There are a dozen or so reasons why the guy might have fallen in the draft. Other teams’ positional requirements, scouts for a particular team have a strong preference for a particular guy, combinations of multiple factors.

            But no, let’s just jump straight to “this guy is flawed and by drafting him Gillis proves once again that he’s an idiot.” Yeah, that feels truthy and supports the narrative.

      • pheenster

        Ah, I’ll give it a few years before I’ll even consider whether Shinkaruk was the wrong pick or not, but as it stands he was highly thought of and even ranked 6th in NHL’s rankings.

        I’m not closing the book on Schroeder yet either.

        I think it’s no secret that we disagree on whether a lot of Gillis’ moves were necessarily that bad, as I think a lot of them were fairly solid moves when they were made, though I’ll repeat again and until the end of time, trading Grabner was the dumbest thing Gillis has done by a long shot.

        We’ll just have to agree to disagree on these prospects though, way too early to really judge anything about them in my opinion.

  • JCDavies

    What happened to the massive return all you Canuck fans maintained would be garnered for Luongo? This is a really funny situation, but mostly because of how wrong all you fans, and the bloggers on this site were about the the feasibility of trading Luongo. As most people outside of Vancouver said, Gillis could not give him away. Any of you man enough to admit you were wrong? Thought not.

  • puck-bandit

    I had 2 TV’S and 2 laptops on all day and of course read all the feedback from different perspectives; i.e media etc…
    I am really pleased with the players we got, including the late picks, our scouts did a good job.

    A number of things concern me again, as a life long fan. A sizable contingency of our Canuck Nation are pulling the plug on the team, this I expected, but I wonder how costly this on-going circus will continue? Yes, we needed to get some cap, and needed to trade a Goalie, but this is a “wow” Cory is such a great sport, and going to really miss sitting behind the net watching him play. They gave him away, that should be a one way ticket out the door!

    Lou has been the hero in all of this, being as we threw him under the bus in the 1st place. I don’t think he has been treated fairly at all in this matter, and it really proves to me that our Canuck Mgnt team has very little integrity, and have not been forthcoming in the way they have addressed the fans. I won’t say the word, but has 3 syllables. So I wonder who is going to be on the damage control team, not Tort’s.

    Again; I like the picks, they were much needed, but the mess they were supposed to clean up just got worse, and it is little wonder why we are the laughing stock of the league.
    And a final question; just who is running the team, as I am now convinced that it’s not Mike Gillis. Ownership is going to assure that he becomes the fall guy, and he will lose his job, it just may not be today. It has become so apparent that the owners have now become the behind the scenes Gm’s, and have their hand in start to finish business. I’m happy having Lou back, and pleased that we now have 2 good back ups that should be able to compete for a place on the team. Head spinner day in Nuck land.

    • JCDavies

      “It has become so apparent that the owners have now become the behind the scenes Gm’s, and have their hand in start to finish business.”

      Nothing good ever comes from this sort of thing.

  • pheenster

    This gong show is one for the record books. In one foul swoop they managed to: alienate their whole roster, retain a goalie who doesn’t want to be here, get no value for an outgoing asset, tarnish their brand, deter any future free agent signings and look absolutely bush league in the process. That’s a feat I’m not sure any other NHL team has accomplished to date. Forget the Stanley Cup, this is the new thing to do. The fastest way to drive your team into the ground dragging loyal fans, who are now paying increased ticket prices, with them. Bravo Aquilini, bravo.

    You think the poor a$$ed Lightening wanted buy out Lecalier and get nothing in return? Nope. But they knew the second they signed that contract – a future buyout was plausible. So they wrote a check, their butts could cash. Vancouver on the other hand failed to do so. They wrote a check their butts refused to cash. Despite making a mass load more $$ than the Lightening team has seen – ever.

    So now, here we are. Controversy still in tact. The players get to spend the remainder of Luongos contract answering questions about this gong show, wondering if Luongo is ‘really’ committed to helping this team win a Cup. Wondering if he’s really ‘in it’. And when Luongo retires sooner than expected, Canucks get the cap penalty associated with his contract.

    I absolutely despise Aquilini. We all know what a slum lord he in in Vancouver. The last few years, he used this team to bolster his reputation in the community and amongst fans. Well, we can all seen the wolf in sheeps clothing for who he is. He could care less about the fans, about Luongo or Schneider. All he cares about is the money. He doesn’t care if this team and fanbase win a cup, only that he gets a ton on $$ along the way. I want him gone. I hope the fans seriously consider mounting a campaign to get these brothers out of Vancouver. Get them to sell the team. They are running it into the ground and dragging this city with them.

  • pheenster

    “They’ve also alienated Roberto Luongo over the last year and a bit by “choosing Schneider”.”

    This sounds like a job for… John Tortorella!

    Seriously. If the Canucks come out of this unscathed in the standings, he’s gonna be the first name you blurt out when people say Jack Adams.