To trade or not to trade?

 OK, before we begin, everyone breathe and watch Eddie Lack make some amazing saves.

Good, now let’s never talk about that Detroit game ever again. Well, after this. It was perhaps the lowest point of a season filled with low points for Canucks fans; it’s one thing to lose a game, but it’s another thing completely to lose a game against a team playing its second of back to back games, yet still somehow get outworked.

In the old days, the Canucks were often accused of not working hard enough for sixty minutes and instead relying solely on their talent to get them wins. This current Canucks roster doesn’t have that luxury, yet they chose to….well, I don’t quite know what they chose to do in order to try and win last night’s game. Maybe they thought Eddie Lack was going to score a goal for them at one point? Maybe getting over Dale "Dutch Gretzky" Weise is harder than we think?

"Damn it Dutch Gretz, you promised Dalpes you wouldn’t cry!"

Read on past the jump for more.

Regardless, last night’s game brought the crescendo of questions (and anger, so, so very much anger) to new heights as fans in Canucks Nation eyed the calendar warily, noting that the NHL trade deadline was approaching on March 5th. The question (and the anger, never forget the anger) that everyone was asking was, "What will Gillis do before the deadline passes?"

As my overloard and commander in chief noted last year, Mike Gillis can best be described as a "cautious" GM.  As I noted in an article that was about 10,000 words too long, the Canucks don’t really have a great track record when it comes to this whole "deadline trading" thing. 

It’s hard to believe much of anything will happen if we go by past records. That being said, this is a different climate we’re in, one in which NHL teams are quote-unquote being handcuffed by the salary cap. As everyone is aware, the NHL salary cap dropped this year, but is expected to go up next year, and as a result, it is thought that many teams are unable, or unwilling, to make moves due to the one year dip in the cap. Will this impact the Canucks? Has it already?

My first bit of research was to see how much trading had been impacted by this year’s salary cap to see if there is any indication that yes, trading overall is down. I am not one to make fancy charts and graphs (unless I use MS Paint, then I can make some pretty kick ass charts and graphs) so let’s just look at the number of trades that have happened during the course of the start of a season until a month before the trade deadline (to bring us aproximately where we are in the season now), for the last six seasons:

Current season – 19 trades (Oddly enough, 7 of the trades since the season started have involved the Oilers. Yes, 37% of the trades done so far, Edmonton was in on them. Even better is that 4 of the trades involved Toronto. 58% of all trade activity so far has been produced by Canada. You’re welcome, slow hockey news days on TSN.)

2013 – 25 trades (Cole for Ryder was the biggest trade, unless you’re Pierre McGuire, in which case that Dustin Tokarski trade made you Tokarski yourself).

2012 – 23 trades (Turris for Rundblad and Rene Borque for Cammalleri were the big deals).

2011 – 22 trades (There were no big deals, really, unless that trade for Nathan Paetsch was a memorable night for Canucks fans. Who? Exactly.)

2010 – 14 trades (Higgins and Kotalik for Jokinen and Prust was a big deal, though none might be as bad as Cam Barker actually getting Chicago Nick Leddy. Cam Barker had trade value at one point, I kid you not.)

2009 – 28 trades (Steen and Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak was easily the biggest deal).

Trading activity league-wide is probably lower this season than the raw number indicates due to the Oilers pushing the numbers higher, but for the most part, there just simply isn’t a lot of significant activity from the start of the season until the build up to the deadline at any point in the last six seasons. So for the people who think Mike Gillis is the devil for not having done a deal by now, he’s not the only GM who tends to sit back and wait during this time.

There are most likely not a lot of dance partners out there for Gillis, much less ones looking for a strict hockey trade where both sides benefit. Alas, this doesn’t help us predict how this trade deadline will go, though, as we don’t know if trading will pick up like it traditionally does, or if it will stutter and stall due to the aforementioned cap fluctation this year.

That brings us back to the question of "What should Mike Gillis do?", then. Assuming trading stays the same and the usual deadline shenanigans go down, what should Gillis attempt to do? The Canucks are of course no longer in the position they were in two years ago, much less last year. Remember that window everyone talks about? Well regardless of your feelings on that metaphor, it is leaning towards closed more than open at this point in the season.

Not many people think the Canucks should be loading up on parts and spending young assets for a lengthy playoff run, as for some crazy reason watching a team that was swept out of the playoffs two years in a row play even worse this year doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. So what should they do at the deadline?

If the Canucks are smart, they do nothing. Don’t make a trade unless it’s an obvious Jack Johnson-for-Jeff Carter type trade. That mythical "Alex Edler for Evander Kane….ok we’ll throw in a third rounder to top it off" kind of deal (please note I am not saying the Canucks will get Kane for Edler at all) is the only deal the Canucks should go after.

If someone wants to kick the tires on David Booth for a draft pick, they should of course do it (nobody will, but let’s pretend just for fun). If there is any other pending UFA on the team that somebody wants, then yes, go for it. If they even get an offer for a Burrows level of player for a good young prospect, they should honestly consider it. It doesn’t mean they have to do a full on re-build right this second, but adding another young part to the mix (even though I doubt many people will be buying high on Burrows) would be a prudent course of action.

What the Canucks need to say no to is any kind of Derek Roy deal, as this team is just not in a position to be buying at all. This is not a team that is one top six forward away from contending. Just try re-watching any game against a Californian team and it makes it very hard to imagine the Canucks getting through one of them, let alone two of them (go watch the Eddie saves again if this upset you. It has a calming effect).

The Canucks will get healthier as this season wears on, or at least they should if the Hockey Gods ease up a bit, and they can still make the playoffs and still show off their Torts aggression. They don’t need to trade Horvat, Shinkaruk, or any other of their scant few prospects in an attempt to win this season. It’s sad to see the team so far removed from 2011, but that’s the reality of the situation in my humblest of opinions.

At the end of the day, the Canucks do need to re-build, re-tool, whatever you want to brand it, and it can be done without doing a complete meltdown. The optimistic view is to try and do what Detroit did, and age gracefully and contend with an aging core. The pessimistic view is to avoid becoming Calgary, and continue to put off a re-build until you’ve devalued your roster so much that you’ve set your franchaise back several years and have to hire Brian Burke to threaten to punch people in a barn again.

The trade deadline fan in me will be bummed out by lack of activity, due to the fact I always watch deadline day with the thought that the Canucks will be adding "the last piece" just before trading closes for the season. The realist in me, though, see the Canucks in the odd position of being the seller more than the buyer for the first time in a while, and that is ok, because sometimes hockey teams have to do that. it might not be fun to admit that the team is no longer the President Trophy winning bad asses of years past (two, count them, TWO times in a row, baby!), but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, either.

Whenever I get too sad about deadline day trading, though, I always remember 2006 and remind myself "it’s not always a good idea to be a buyer anyways…"

(Stick tap to for the pic)

  • Mantastic

    Fact is teams don`t really do big trades any more. Of course the salary cap plays a part, but it can`t be the total issue.

    That said, the Canucks shouldn`t be buying and have nothing to sell. If a team wants Edler they`ll get him on a sweet heart trade that could come back to haunt the Canucks — though that type of revisionist thinking suggests that Edler would finally fulfil his promise here… yeah, I don`t think so either.

    • Yeah, going over the NHL trading history, “hockey deals” where both teams benefit just don’t happen often. Good teams need to build up to becoming a good team with some good drafting (or lucky drafting), smart signings, and occasional trades.

      As annoying as the term has become, it is indeed “a process” to make a top team, and it’s not easy to turn a struggling team around with a huge trade.

      It’s just that making a trade is the most visible way a team can show its fan base that its trying something, so a lot of people tend to get super agitated if they don’t see a trade going down when a team struggles.

      I honestly expect the Canucks to hold onto Edler and make another minimal, Weise type of deal at most this year, and that’s probably for the better.

  • Mantastic

    We are only a few months away until Luongo’s trade request clause becomes a thing.

    With Lou re-establishing himself as a top goalie and with the cap set to skyrocket, now would be a good a time to cross that off the summer to-do list…

        • Yeah, with more and more teams seemingly rocking 1a 1b scenarios, it doesn’t seem that far fetched to grab a veteran guy to run with Eddie.

          That being said, I honestly wonder what managements view on Luongo is, if they are actively shopping him, or if Lu himself still wants out, etc etc.

          • Unless Luongo comes out and says he intends to finish his career in Vancouver, I assume his trade request is still on the table and changing agents was part of this.

            And with the “out” in his contract coming up after the season, it might make sense to be proactive and maintain a modicum of leverage…

          • I agree on the agent change. I honestly don’t have any other idea why he would have changed agents then. He said on the radio a couple of days ago he was happy in Vancouver, but who knows what is talk and what is not.

            We had an entire conversation and it didn’t break down into hostility! Go us!

            *high five*

          • argoleas

            Moving Luongo’s contract is good all in itself. I do see a potential scenario where a team challenging for a cup that is not certain about their goaltending may request him (no, that does not mean you, Florida). My feeling is that if a trade scenario is possible that involves a second team offering to take his contract (or a good chunk of it based on existing rules) and possibly some assets in return, GMMG will take it. This would only improve if he has a good olympics.

            And I still think that Lou is ok with leaving, at any moment. What we have now is a marriage of convenience and necessity.

            And yes, it is amazing when a conversation revolves around facts and opinions, not (non-self) deprecating sarcasm.

          • Agreed on marriage of convenience. I think if even a passable deal came up, the Canucks might just take it so both sides can move on from the contract and the situation.

            That being said, it wouldn’t blow me away if Luongo never played for another team again in his NHL career.

            A lot of moving parts to the Luongo situation, it has me very intrigued by how it plays out.

          • argoleas

            I think the terms of his contract is now a fatal aspect of his career. Can he actually ask for the contract to be torn up. Is there a legal scenario where both parties can just say “f%$# it”?

            Otherwise, I only imagine a team taking him for cap floor reasons, since the cap will remain the same, but the chunk of the cash payout will actually shrink. So a scenario like this may work well for Florida, where Luongo may want to play for the whole duration of his contract. It’s all I can think of apart form a normal trade where a team is just desperate for a good goalie and is willing to pay for him.

          • argoleas

            What intrigues me is that Lu never really publicly backed down from the original request, even after the trade. This is clearly a buy in or buy out point within the system, and he’s already tried to buy out once. Hope he stays but he may have his reasons to want out, and I can’t see the Schneider trade changing his mind if they are personal or family related. Interesting time with him for certain.

          • argoleas

            Except he never requested a trade. He said he was open to a trade if he thought it would benefit him and the team. Obviously he wasnt serious enough about leaving that he would waive his NTC for just any team (and there were rumors he kiboshed a couple of possible destinations).

      • argoleas

        I think that if things align, Luongo has a good olympics, Lack continues to shine, and there is no regression on Lack’s part, then if Lou requests a trade (I would assume this is something that he will be open to all the time), and if there is a willing taker for a good price, then do it. This is my view for all potential trades. Even the twins. Obviously, as stated above, the trades have to make sense for the team, and due to the NTCs, the players.

        I think all those locked-in players have realized that this team will be rebuilding, so no cup contention for a while.

        • Yup, that’s a solid view. All it takes is a goalie getting hot at the right time (or a team playing well in front of him) and boom, you’re in the Finals.

          Lack has shown signs he can be a viable NHL player so far, so it’s nice that that might be an option if they want to explore that avenue of thinking (assuming Eddie keeps his play up).

          • argoleas

            I just dont see GMMG giving him away for free, even if he can simply rid himself of the contract. Right now he has a goalie that does not cost him a lot per year, and he has Lack playing well. This is a tandem that can work for a long while, with Lack taking over more game. I say this because even if Lou would not like that, he is very well aware that he is a prisoner of his contract. So GMMG (or any other GM afterward) will just wait for conditions to change, even if it takes many years. A full blown rebuild will not suffer if Lou is here. Their problems lie elsewhere, and this tandem has been the only thing keeping this team afloat.

            The bottom line is that he was ok with a contract that guaranteed term instead of a riskier contract that gave him more freedom. Now he needs to deal with the consequences of that.

          • argoleas

            Well said. Lu and the Canucks created this situation and now they can deal with it. Having said that, Lu’s contract is looking better for all of the reasons stated by Jamie E on post #28. I am fine if he stays a Canuck but would prefer a move if there is a decent return.

            We’re lacking top 6 players so if you can get a blue chip prospect for Lu then do it. No idea what the market would be on him but the deadline makes contenders a bit crazy so let’s take full advantage of that.

          • argoleas

            This is an interesting scenario. Suppose a team comes to Vancouver and says:

            We take Lou, and will give you the following:
            – a very good prospects/high draft pick
            – conditional draft picks based on how long Lou plays
            – Vancouver absorbs max possible salary while team will take max cap (not sure how or if that can work)

            Considering that Van has more cash that prospects, getting the latter is more important than the former. A team that is cost-conscious but has a deep prospect pool could fit well here.

          • argoleas

            But Gillis (or whoever happens to be the GM) may not have a choice but to give Lou away for the best package offered by one of five teams.

            I don’t disagree that the tandem is the only thing keeping the Canucks afloat (where have I heard that before).

            But it really depends on the language worked into the contract after year 4 (or 5 if Botch had it right)…

    • JCDavies

      If it inevitable then now would be the perfect time. At the moment, he’s one of the few we could deal selling high. If he wants to move eventually then why wait and assume the risks associated? I’m also a huge Lu fan but agree 100% with NM00’s thought. I don’t want to wait until summer.

  • The Benevolent Orca

    This league is built for drafting and developing young players. A top 6 forward trade coming mid season is just NOT going to happen.

    As much as I dislike Gillis, he’s anything but cautious. Seems someone forgot about Schnieder on draft day. That trade took balls. And considering the young stock of players we have coming up, I’m excited to see some youth on this team.

    The Canucks need one thing on this team, new faces and youth. Both of which we have available. The aging core of this team has become complacent. They are comfortable in their ways and are struggling adopting the new style of play.

    Make a big trade for some future prospects and depth players who work hard. Trade one or several key players Edler, Hansen Booth,Burrows, Bieksa, or Keslar for a pick and some depth players. Time has come to shake up the locker room.

    Bring in some of those prospects to get some NHL ice time. Lean on the young players to start taking a key role. Torts is the perfect coach for player development, not re-development.

    • Agreed about the road to success. Have to build by drafting and developing. Canucks can sign some guys to fit Torts “mold” sure, but yeah, they need to start adding in young parts and working them into the lineup.

      I honestly am excited about seeing how Horvat does, and if Shinkaruk can be a viable offensive NHL threat, as well as seeing what else can be done to add to the new core of the team.

      Will always be a super interesting situation to watch with Edler, as Botchford and Gallagher keep mentioning the teams possible interest in dealing him.

  • I like Torts as a coach and at the beginning of the season everyone was talking about how he was playing our stars too much. It seems like that conversation has almost dissapeared; which amazes me because anyone who watches the Canucks can tell you they are tired. Vancouver has scored the second fewest third period goals,only behind Buffalo(F@#$%&+ BUFFALO). Maybe if our stars didn’t play so much in the first 2 periods they would have something left in the tank for the third. Torts need to play them less, they’ll never admit they are tired but they need a break

  • I think moving Higgins/Hansen could be shopped and maybe free up some more roster space and cap dollars for next year, and start a late season tank job for a higher pick. See if there is a buyer for Lu who might want out.

    • Canucks are in an odd spot in that they don’t have a ton of traditional UFA day players to ship out. Higgins, Burrows, Booth, all the kinds of players teams might add, all have the multi year deals. Plus the NTCs, all of the NTCs…..

  • argoleas

    If the Canucks take a realistic look at their roster, they’re likely sellers. I’m in for that. The deadline causes some irrational moves especially for teams feeling they’re close to winning it all.

    Gillis has put Edler out there before so he knows what people are willing to give. If he gets a bit more at deadline time then make the deal.

    Gillis should entertain offers for the entire roster. I’d keep the prospects and try and deal the likes of Edler, Kesler, Hamhuis, Bieksa, Garrison etc – whoever you can get a good haul for. Don’t deal all of them but at least 2 or 3 should go.

    All of this is subject to the NTCs and the returns.

    If Detroit wants Kes and Edler then send us back Nyqvist, Tatar, Mantha and a pick. Sounds legit. Lu’s contract doesn’t look so bad now so maybe he can bring us a good, young forward. Who knows.

  • JCDavies

    Apparently, even if Luongo submits a trade list, the Canucks don’t have to trade him…

    From Capgeek: “If player submitted a trade list in 2014 and was not moved, team loses right to request trade list in 2018.”

  • argoleas

    If this team really is doing a bit of a rebuild, I wonder if they should be shopping Luongo at the trade deadline.

    He’s done a pretty good job this year of showing that he still a solid and good goaltender in the NHL this year, and the Canucks could use the younger pieces. The team trading for him gets a bonafide #1 and a run in the playoffs, and a goalie with a manageable cap hit in a league where the cap is going to go up, not down like it was last summer.

    Seems like a win-win to me. I like Luongo, but there’s no point in keeping him around on a team that isn’t just going nowhere fast, it’s going backwards fast.

    • argoleas

      Must you be so negative?

      Seriously, though, the other part of this equation is Gillis’ job security being tied to the goaltending keeping this team on the playoff bubble for the next couple of years.

      Because if the Canucks reset the organization back to the possibility of a goalie graveyard, and 20-30 games of Lack performing well as a backup means little going forward, that’s the nail in this management team’s coffin.

      First time general managers rarely, if ever, get to perform their own rebuilds…

  • argoleas

    Based on teardowns and rebuilds in other leagues, getting rid of a teams core doesn’t doom that team to years of mediocrity. The Marlins have done it twice. The key is getting near ready top six prospects, and using affordable free agents to complement. Add decent drafting and its possible.
    I’d trade Lou for any decent Guy offered. Based on how littke it cost TO to get Bernier.
    Also remember only the best prospects have an impact before 22 (4th year after drafting). Most of the Canucks prospects are still in that youthful range. D
    o you trust Gillis to do a rebuild?


    • argoleas

      To be honest, I dont know. I have never seen him do one before. So far he was responsible for adding the final pieces to a core he inherited, which resulted in almost bearing fruit in 2011, then trying to retool with terrible results. As such, my feeling is that he gets the try, and that’s probably the buy-in from the owner. As we have discussed on this board over the last 8 months, this was the year Torts would try to squeeze out what he could out of this team to see if it can go far into the playoffs. After taking his directive a bit to literally, it is quite obvious that he failed. And I assume that during the job interview phase, the GM, Owner, and Torts must have discussed this eventuality. So expect MG and Torts to be back next year to continue the retool/rebuild. It would be nice if the team could make a trade before the deadline that netted them a high 1st round pick next year. Maybe we can have another conversation with Buffalo….