Welcome back, folks, and thanks again for your continued readership during this difficult time. We sincerely hope you and yours are doing as well as possible.
We are back to once again dive deep into speculative waters, and to turn our eyes to the past and wonder “What If?”
Specifically, we’re here to talk about the history of the Vancouver Canucks – and which parts of it we’d most like to steal from the past and insert into the current edition of the team.
Most would agree that the Canucks’ core as of the 2019/20 season is about as talented as any in franchise history, but the roster is still far from complete if actually competing for the Stanley Cup is the goal.
And no doubt Jim Benning and Co. will still be looking to upgrade their ranks whenever the NHL opens up shop again – but what if he had a time machine and could pluck a player or two past Canucks from the timestream to bolster his squad? Wouldn’t that be fun, and worthy of a round of debate?
We thought so, too, and that’s why this week we’re asking:
If you could insert any former Vancouver Canuck onto the current roster, who would you choose and why?
(Since free time is at an abundance for many right now, feel free to challenge yourself and pick both a retired player and one that is still in the league.)
(Also, if you want to get really nerdy and speculate about the implications about plucking your player from the timestream and reinserting them into the future, go for it. When you’re talking about time travel, weird is good!)
And if that’s not enough retroactive speculation for you, last week, we asked:
What would you do if you could undo any trade in Canucks’ history?
Your responses are below!
Beer Can Boyd:
If you were to take a poll on this question, the response would be near unanimous as to which trade to undo. Hall of Famer Cam Neely and a 1st round pick that turned out to be Glen Wesley (1457 NHL games played!) for a damaged Barry Pederson. The 80’s would have looked a whole lot different for the Canucks!
[Neely to Boston is] my choice as well, although there’s no guarantee that the Canucks would have picked Wesley. They might have picked the dreadful Wayne McBean (210 games, 49 points, and a lot of time riding the bus in the AHL).
Not too sure I’m liking that Toffoli trade at the moment. Gave up a lot for a ten-game rental. Not to mention the cap going down making it unlikely for a re-sign.
Lotto Line Forever:
As a standalone trade (not counting the subsequent Pearson return), I gotta say the Gudbranson trade to Vancouver. I wasn’t around for the Neely era, so couldn’t add to the comments below, but in recent memory this one was not good – in that while McCann wanted out, he was still a developing asset (top-six guy now for Pittsburgh) and while the prospects have been inconsequential so far, Erik did not look good defensively when he was brought in to be a defensive D-man. He and Hutton were a tire fire.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
The Neely trade is no doubt the worst trade in Canuck history, made under pressure from short-sighted coach Tom Watt. But in more recent times, the trade of Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, and a first round pick for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich has to be near the top of the list. Ballard never fit in, Grabner has had a long and useful career, and the first rounder could have been Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brock Nelson, Charlie Coyle, or even Tyler Toffoli. Unfortunately, this trade was necessitated by the death of the blossoming Luc Bourdon. And wouldn’t the 2011 Stanley Cup Final team have looked even better with him on it.
(Author’s note: Rest in Peace, Luc)
North Van Halen:
It’s true the Neely trade is by faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar the worst trade in Canuck history. After that the Ballard trade and the Guddy trade have to be neck-and-neck for the worst trades in the 21st century.
It’s funny how, historically, we have been absolutely abysmal at the draft table but our history of being on the right end of trades has at least kept us from “Maple Leafs bad” for the last 50 years. Naslund, Bertuzzi both coming and going, Luongo, Kirk Mclean and Greg Adams, Ronning and Courtnall, Hedican and Brown, Reinhart and Bozek (a gift from Calgary so we could compete against Edmonton). So many of our best players have come from being on the right side of trades, it’s crazy. Hell, even in recent years Erhoff. Higgins, Lapierre, Leivo, Miller and Pearson were clear wins by the organization.
Certainly the Neely trade was a doozer but, truth be told, Pederson in return did yield a pretty good player. However, this trade is far too obvious as we all know this is the worst.
Looking back in the early days of the team a lot of trades were made and a few were head-shakers. For example, Bill Derlago and Rick Vaive for Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler. No disrespect to Tiger, he was and still is a great Canuck and was a big part of the ’82 playoff run but Vaive was a fifth overall pick who had several 80+ point seasons and was a star for Toronto in the ’80’s. Derlago was a solid player as well and a former fourth overall pick for the Canucks. Derlago enjoyed a lengthy career and scored 40 goals one season and had a good stretch in Toronto.
Tiger was a great Canuck for five seasons and is still remembered well but to have players like Vaive and Derlago in the fold would have been huge for this team.
12 games of Derek Roy for Connauton and a second sucked as Connauton went on to play 318 NHL games.
Acquiring David Booth and losing the assets for Ballard also both hurt the club.
Booth in particular rankles me, as Kes needed a winger to put the team over the top and they shot their remaining cap space to acquire him. Looks like the Panthers essentially executed a cap dump by unloading a player that had lost his edge with several serious head injuries.
For me, this trade signified the end of the magical run of team Gillis.
I had to look it up, but it was the highly forgettable Jack Gordon in his short two-year tenure who traded Neely in 1986 as GM. He was gone after the ‘86-‘87 season. A classic case of trading for immediacy in Pederson and parting with a building block future. The stupid part at the time was the Canucks were bottoming out as a bad team and had no business dealing Neely on exactly Cam’s 21st birthday. I would think GMs largely are smarter these days but the term “rebuild” was seldom if ever thought of in those days.
I am Ted:
The Neely trade was the worst ever. Undo that one!
The Neely trade is obvious – but at the time if you had the chance to pick up a 24-year-old center who had scored near 100 points for three straight seasons and then come back from an injury to average about a point-a-game, wouldn’t you have done it? Pederson even scored 76 and 71 points the first two years with the Canucks; it was the next three seasons that Neely amassed big point totals with the Bruins before having the rest of his career derailed by injury. In the end, their final career point totals aren’t that different. Of course, also losing Wesley in the deal wasn’t too great.
Overall, I still think losing Vaive and Derlago for two seasons of Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler was the worst.
The Neely trade was the worst, but if I could reverse any trade it would be the Keith Ballard trade for what it might have done for the team’s success. Ballard wasn’t that good and the $4.2 million in cap space may have been used to sign a different D-man or re-sign Willie Mitchell. Imagine having Mitchell around later that season during the finals with Boston?
(Author’s note: Great username!)