Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

Did the Canucks Miss an Opportunity with Vadim Shipachyov?

A little over a week ago, the Vegas Golden Knights announced they’d signed KHL standout Vadim Shipachyov to a two-year contract valued at $4.5-million annually.

It took two passes for the Golden Knights to get league approval on bringing their second player in franchise history into the fold, as the first contract included no-trade protection that Shipachyov wasn’t eligible to receive. This signing Russians away from the KHL business is starting to seem difficult.

The Canucks had been connected, in passing, to Shipachyov for as long as the talented centre’s drawn NHL interest — about two-to-three seasons, as far as we can tell.

Whether the Canucks had any interest or not, they leave the Shipachyov sweepstakes empty handed. Was it a lack of term or money? Or were the Canucks unwilling to offer a no-trade clause they couldn’t actually fulfil? Hell, maybe they just weren’t that interested?

We’ll never know for sure why the Canucks were unable to lure Shipachyov from the KHL. It’s possible they did their best and just lost out to the glitz and glammer of Vegas. Sometimes these things are out of the team’s control.


Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that they did have a chance, though. Did they miss an opportunity by not signing Shipachyov?

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Shipachyov is an elite playmaking centre with exceptional vision. He’s scored at a near point per game pace in the KHL, having played there since 2008-09. In recent years, Shipachyov’s found another gear with SKA St. Petersburg, with three consecutive seasons at an over a point per game pace to his credit. Last season, Shipachyov’s 76 points (26 goals and 50 assists) was good for third in the KHL — though I should add, he had the highest point per game pace in the league.

Playing for Russia in the World Hockey Championships, Shipachyov is tied for second in scoring with two goals and ten assists. The guy can play.

I’m under no delusions about Shipachyov, though. If he’s a competent top-six scorer at the NHL level, that’s a win. Would it be enough to make the Canucks playoff-competitive over night? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

I tend to think Shipachyov had the potential to make the Canucks borderline entertaining for the odd shift, though. That counts for something. This market can handle a bad team — hell, they’ve been asking the one they’re stuck with to come to grips with that for years. It’s the way they’re losing year after year that they seem at odds with, mostly.

And if Shipachyov did take off, how long is the list of better trade chips at the trade deadline? Ask yourself, when was the last time a team landed a second line centre at the trade deadline?

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The Minnesota Wild moved heaven and earth to land Martin Hanzal, a player I’d describe as a competent third centre. In return, the Arizona Coyotes landed a first round, second round and conditional fourth round pick.

I’ve often talked about ways the Canucks can buy draft picks or prospects. Whether it’s acquiring one of the Dallas Stars’ poor goaltender contracts or one of the many veteran free agents we’ve advocated the Canucks sign on short term deals only to flip at the deadline — there are a number of options available, and they’re all worth exploring.

The ship’s sailed on the Canucks opportunity to sign Shipachyov. There are other options available to them, though.

If we were to stay in the KHL ranks, perhaps the Canucks could take a look at Yevgeni Dadonov, the former Florida Panthers draft pick who’s rode shotgun to Shipachyov in St. Petersburg.

It’s unfortunate they won’t get the prized catch. It’s not often players of this potential hit the open market for a short term deal. There’s an inherent risk with a player like Shipachyov, certainly. The reward could be massive.

Whether as an offensive catalyst, a trade chip or even as a mentor to young Nikolay Goldobin, Shipachyov had incalculable value to the Canucks rebuild. It’s a shame this will just be a hypothetical.


      • Donald's Hat Trick

        That’s exactly how you work with advanced models, Bud. You keep updating them with all the new info that you get, and that helps you conclude that Shipawhatsov ain’t got no heart.

  • apr

    If you do not think credibility is important to signing a player from overseas and then trading him at the deadline, then yah – could make sense. Would probably be near impossible to sign the next Panarin when competing with other teams if you totally muddied your reputation however.

    • Peachy

      That depends entirely on the context of the signing. Players who sign one and two year deals don’t have certainty anyways; you could well promise to only trade him to a contender at the deadline.

  • Locust

    So are we back to the “sign anyone”, pick up “anyone” on waivers, trade “someone” for “anyone”, trade “anyone” for more picks …. schtick again?
    If it isn’t Canucks newsworthy – it isn’t a story.
    Quality over quantity is needed here.
    More Vanessa please….

    • Carl Jung

      The work of Vanessa & Ryan have been slipping lately as well.

      The group phenomenon at CA turns promising bloggers into replacement level trying to placate the lowest common denominator.

      That’s what happens when JD Burke is captain and Jackson McDonald is his assistant.

    • Aguaymanto

      I have no problem with these hypotheticals, it provides some insight into players that we or at least I would have overlooked, and it provides more content. If it doesn’t interest you that’s alright as well. Don’t see what the gripe is about.

    • Dirk22

      Hey Locust – how about you just don’t read the articles. I think a lot of people enjoy a little insight into players that may have been available.

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed but if there’s to be any improvement with this team, they probably need to have some new players donning the jersey. Maybe let’s just not get so offended when these profiles come up.

      • Bud Poile

        The Canucks negotiated to sign him.
        Ten months have passed since the last CA piece on the same guy.
        So,more important issues can’t be found and we get another on the same 30 year old KHL potential 3rd liner.Maybe filler dulls the senses or just annoys others.

      • Freud

        Locust and Bud have been invited to leave plenty of times. They have some odd, tired, repetitive agenda here and apparently can’t leave.

        Locust’s post are the same drivel, over and over, then he’s too obtuse to see the hypocrisy of requesting quality over quantity.

        • Locust

          Freud – back from the couch I see.
          Your infatuation with me is concerning, especially considering your choice of ‘moniker’ … you know the most famous guy in the world with dick issues…?
          Get a grip (but not tight) and try and get over yourself.

  • Bro Horvat

    Let’s just say we signed him last Summer, what would JD’s headline today be? “Vadim Shipachyov – why the Canucks have no idea how to rebuild a team”

    He’s 30. We didn’t miss any opportunities.

  • A bit of flawed logic in this article. The author chastizes the Canucks for not signing Shipachyov but at the same time says he doesn’t know why the Canucks weren’t able to lure him. So how can you conclude that the Canucks missed an opportunity? If Shipachyov chose not to sign here, as opposed to the Canucks failing to commit to a contract that Shipachyov would have signed, it’s not a missed opportunity.

    Furthermore, the author says that Shipachyov is a prized catch despite the significant reservations posed and his “incalculable value”. So what does that mean? He could have been the next Panarin or the next Tryamkin so he could easily be a found lottery ticket or a wasted contract spot. But the conclusion implies that he would only have been a positive.

    The article could have been a lot better if the author’s bias didn’t overshadow facts and the unknowns.

  • OMAR49

    Lets see. He has very good stats but they are in the KHL and not the NHL. As it was stated he MIGHT be a top 6 forward but then again he might not. He won’t be good enough to get us in the play-offs although he might (there’s that word again) make the occasional game interesting. In addition the guy is 30 years old, who has probably reached (and passed) his peak. Is this the type of move you want to make during a re-build? So the Canucks Army are saying we should have paid $4.5M for Shipachyov because he might make the occasional game interesting and he might be a mentor to Goldobin and we might be able to trade him at the deadline. That’s a lot of money based on “might”. I think that $4.5M can be better used elsewhere, such as on contracts to keep some of our young prospects.

  • Riley Miner

    I’m sure they wanted him. Would a 30-yr-old rookie who wants to make hay as an NHLer want to waste his first season, maybe even his second, on the Canucks? Doubt it. They didn’t have a chance.

  • TheRealPB

    What an odd article. Do you think there are articles about how 30 other teams missed an opportunity? And as someone else pointed out wouldn’t you be writing ALLCAPS posts about how the Canucks are still not doing enough to tank if they sign a big money contract with a 30-year-old?

  • Due_North83

    I don’t get it, CA has been ripping the Nucks & writing about how they should be rebuilding & not wasting spots & money on older free agents and “let the kids play”.

    But in this article you’re asking whether they “missed” out on this 30+yrs player.

    If they really signed him, the article would be about how management is incompetent in signing such a player.

  • Neil B

    Hey, JD. Betteridge’s law of headlines: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” It’s especially worth know ing when the answer to the question is, in fact, actually no.

    At age 30 (31 by playoffs next year), Shipachyov will only have one opportunity to make bank with an NHL contract, and that is to perform at or above the level of Radulov in Montreal. To do that, he would need to play 1C minutes, especially getting top-unit PP ice time. He will not get that with the Canucks. If they want to go with a win-now 1C, and on the PP, they would run with Hank. If they want to develop a younger 1C on the PP, they would run with 22-year old Horvat, not 30-year old Shipachyov. He knows this; at the very least, his agent does, because that is part of his agent’s job.

    The other thing he will need to do to cash in on his one swing at the cat is to play in a high-profile environment. Lacking our winning a top-3 selection in the past 2 drafts, we do not have a rookie-of-the-year candidate that would draw attention in our conference away from McJesus or Johnny Hockey. Vegas, meanwhile, is the NHL’s shiny new toy, and will get plenty of coverage in their inaugural season.

    Nothing wrong in pursuing a possibility, of course; but we were never in the frame on this one. Pretending otherwise, just to feed a “JB bad” narrative, actually does nothing other than harm your credibility. This article should have been congratulating GMJB on not trying to outbid Vegas on adding an expensive, but ultimately inconsequential, player.

    By the way, the 2-year contract gives Vegas the opportunity to see him play one season before offering him an NTC on the contract extension; it would be my guess, based on McPhee trying to sneak in the NTC when it is not allowed, that he will honour the non-NTC in a handshake deal way. If GMJB did this, this website would go ballistic.

  • Rodeobill

    wow. so much vitriol. If the article reflects something I feel is interesting to consider, I read it. Why bother if you aren’t? Furthermore, why bother “contributing to the discussion?” I guess it is kind of a backhanded compliment to the authors that people care that much about the quality and disposition of the articles that they would spend so much of their time and energy from their personal busy schedules to invest in such a manner.

  • Fortitude00

    I am glad we missed or didn’t sign him. It’s irrelevant because Canucks are rebuilding and we don’t need unproven 30’s players coming in to be a possible fringe playoff team. We tried that last year with the proven early 30’s Eriksson.

  • defenceman factory

    To answer the headline – NO

    This would have been a very poor signing that does not fit with the current roster or where the Canucks should be going with a rebuild. I get the sign and flip free agents at the deadline. Signing someone for 2 years at $4.5 mil per year is more money and term than necessary to run this strategy. Much harder to flip someone who costs that much the year after next year’s deadline. Canucks had to retain salary on Hansen to flip him.

    It is abundantly clear this player wanted a NTC. He isn’t eligible for one but you can be relatively certain he has a strong assurance from Vegas he won’t be traded, at least without his consent. Were the Canucks supposed to run a scam on this guy? Think what you want about Linden but being dishonest to players doesn’t seem like his schtick to me.

    I like these articles on signings around the league and particularly like a thoughtful evaluation of how those players might have fit with the Canucks. It is disappointing when the evaluation wilfully ignores facts contained in the article to cast shade on Canucks management. These guys have made enough actual mistakes. I would prefer CA did not try to spin poor moves management didn’t make into a criticism. The Canucks took a pass and it was the right move.

    • Van94

      Not so many mistakes really. Lots of moves made by lots of teams don’t work out as hoped. Those moves are not mistakes. You move on and keep trying to have more successes than otherwise. Other rebuilding teams do not follow a smooth curve that quickly brings them back to prominence and we won’t either.

  • TD

    I thought JD presented a balanced article for the most part. He recognized that the Canucks may have tried but been unable to sign Shipachyov and then proceeded on a hypothetical. Here’s what I don’t get with JD. He once again states the market would support a rebuild, where what he needs to say is some of the paying fans, as well as the bloggers and lots of the Canucks Army followers would support a rebuild. I remember when the Canucks were weak and didn’t come close to selling out the rink on a regular basis. The only time the rink was full was when the Leafs, the Canadians or when Gretzky was in town.

    Moving past that issue, JD calls non-stop for the tank and a rebuild, but wants to sign a 30 year old forward that may help the entertainment value and lead to a couple extra wins. That 30 year old player will be way outside his prime when the Canucks are competitive again and in the mean time he will help win some games, hurt the tank and cause the Canucks to get a worse draft pick thereby slowing the rebuild. JD must have a split personality because signing an older player like Shipachyov for the short term gain contradicts so many articles JD has written over the past couple of years.