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.
LV is filing a new contract for Vadim Shipachyov. Previous one rejected because he is not eligible for a no-trade clause. New one without.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 6, 2017
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.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) July 8, 2016
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?
Vadim Shipachyov only shoots if he knows it will be a goal
Definition of playmaking center. Generates shots at 4L level but scores at elite pic.twitter.com/ZDQ9O1vCDe
— Josh Khalfin (@Josh_Khalfin) May 1, 2017
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?
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.