Photo credit:David Quadrelli CanucksArmy
Canucks GM Patrik Allvin talks acquiring Filip Hronek, a quiet deadline, and more
11 months ago
When Patrik Allvin sat down at the podium to discuss the work the Canucks did prior to the NHL’s trade deadline, he reaffirmed the team’s position on the state of the franchise from January.
“My expectation is to make the playoffs with the players we have here,” Allvin said. “Especially when you have an elite goalie in Thatcher Demko, Filip Hronek, and Quinn Hughes, Pettersson, Miller, Kuzmenko. I mean, we have good players here, no doubt about it. But we need to learn how to play as a team.”
“We have a lot of work to do in order to be a playoff team here. But I’m very confident in the coaching staff I’ve got in here now and what we’ve got to do in order to come ready next year.”
That proclamation shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it falls in line with everything the team has been saying thus far this season. But it doesn’t make the end result any less demoralizing for portions of the fanbase.
The Canucks are 27th out of 32 teams in the National Hockey League, a place in the standings where teams will shuffle as many contracts as they can out the door and overhaul the roster through careful drafting and responsible bets on young players.
Allvin and his front office chose a slightly different direction: they bought, acquiring Filip Hronek from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a pair of high draft picks, including the conditional first-rounder from the New York Islanders added in the Bo Horvat trade. But unlike the rest of those teams, Vancouver feels that they’re in their competitive window now.
But the Canucks’ GM, to his credit, admitted that the postseason is well out of the current team’s reach. But he also wouldn’t throw in the towel on a playoff run next season.
“Yeah, we’re not gonna make the playoffs this year, which is extremely disappointing to myself and that’s on me. It’s on me to make this team better,” Allvin said.
“I believe there is more to do here, we’re not happy where we are. I’m happy to see the response from the players since Rick took over here. What we emphasize on day-to-day stuff, how we’re changing the standard and the culture, what it means to become a Vancouver Canuck. Moving forward here we still have some work to do in order to get this team to where we believe the fan base deserves, to be a competitive team moving forward and hopefully taking a big step next year.”
Is Hronek, a decent two-way defender undoubtedly growing into his prime, enough of a change on the blue line to pull the team out of the bottom of the standings alone? Allvin certainly thinks that a blue line anchored by Hughes and Hronek will make that much of a difference come September.
As for the players potentially available where the team might have selected with the two picks given up in the upcoming draft, Allvin’s response was less reassuring.
“I’m collecting picks to either draft hockey players or trade to get hockey players in here,” Allvin said. “Talking to the coaching staff here leading up to this week about what areas we can improve our team on, the right side was something we feel really strongly about improvement. When we had the opportunity to get a high-end player in Filip Hronek, we had two assets at this point to do it and we felt that this was an important move for our organization.”
The Hronek trade wasn’t the only piece of business the team got done this week. Along with shipping off Luke Schenn and Riley Stillman earlier in the week, Allvin also dealt Curtis Lazar to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fourth round pick, bringing the Canucks back to net zero on the draft pick front compared to where they were at the beginning of February.
Lazar’s half-season with the Canucks was a disappointment on every level, thanks to a lack of offence and rotten injury luck. Eventually, other depth role players took his spot.
“We felt at this point with Nils Aman’s game, where he was going that we want to have a different look on the fourth line moving forward. I know that I brought in Curtis here too for his versatility, his character, his leadership. He’s been a good player for us, but we also recognize that we need more production out of our fourth line here, so it was a decision we made.”
But the decisions the team didn’t make were perhaps the most interesting ones. Specifically, the team’s inability to move Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, among others.
The difficulty to move Boeser has been apparent for some time due to his struggles to produce consistently and the commonly held belief that he could benefit from a fresh start elsewhere. While a deal didn’t materialize, Allvin didn’t want to give up hope on Boeser finding another level just yet.
“I’m asking my coaching staff to get the most out of my players. In this case, Brock Boeser is 25 years old, we could say is having a down year, but is probably close to getting 20 goals. He’s a good hockey player,” Allvin said. “I’m looking at all the options to improve our team moving forward, so if there is a deal that makes sense for us to improve our team, I definitely take a look at it.”
In the case of JT Miller, Allvin did briefly mention he’d talked to one team about the 29-year-old that morning, he also said the team in question wasn’t “very serious”. Allvin also made it clear that any trade talks never reached the point of a team submitting a formal offer for Miller.
Which leaves the Canucks in the most precarious situation of any team in the NHL. They sit on the verge of finishing in the league’s bottom five, with a team that will be over the cap ceiling once Miller’s seven-year extension and its $8 million AAV kicks in July 1. But through it all, the Canucks’ general manager is steadfast in his belief that they can get the team back to contention without the flexibility to spend in free agency or make big blockbuster deals in the offseason.
“Well, we don’t have that kind of cap space. I believe that Tampa Bay has been pretty successful without cap space and won Stanley Cups, so there is a reason most of the time that you don’t have cap space. And I don’t see our team being in that category.”
Just how critical Allvin’s decisions this week were to impacting the health of the franchise, for better or for worse, will be realized in due time.
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