It’s been over a decade since a Canucks Trade Deadline mattered for the right reasons, so enjoy this one

Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 month ago
Ah, Trade Deadline Eve.
What a unique time of year on the hockey schedule.
There’s really nothing quite like it. In many ways, Trade Deadline time is like a miniature season in and of itself. Various teams get their hopes up for big things, a few of them get big things, and the rest go home disappointed. And all over the course of a few days, soon to be condensed into a few hours.
Of course, not all Trade Deadline experiences are created equal, which is something that fans of the Vancouver Canucks know all too well.
That’s why, whether or not this particular deadline proves to be an exciting or successful one for the Canucks, it should be appreciated and enjoyed all the same.
Because it’s been a while since this market got to be excited for a Trade Deadline for the “right reasons.”
Look, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the sport of hockey, and folks can get amped up for the deadline for any number of reasons. There is some excitement in “selling,” in that it’s always fun to hope one’s team can successfully sell off its spare parts in order to acquire meaningful future pieces. It’s a unique thrill of its own to see one’s team bring in picks and prospects, and to imagine those assets one day achieving their potential and playing an important role in the team’s turnaround.
When done right, selling at the deadline can be quite a satisfying experience.
But, come on, let’s be honest here. Selling at the deadline just doesn’t hold a candle to buying. The thrill of selling good hockey players for players that might one day be good isn’t something that’s naturally easy to cheer for, and fans need to do a bunch of internal rationalizing to get to the point where it’s enjoyable. Sports fandoms rarely lend themselves to long-term aims and goals.
It’s much, much more natural to get pumped up about the notion of one’s team adding players that can help them win in the present day. Players that get added to the roster immediately, that fans get to watch play within the week.
There’s simply no comparison. It’s the difference between getting excited about a prospect who might be good in five years versus an established talent who might score on Tuesday.
Plus, it’s worth mentioning that “selling” hasn’t been a particularly satisfying experience for the Canucks in specific, anyway. Over the prior decade of futility, how many sellable pending UFAs did the Canucks fail to part with at the appropriate time, only to watch walk away, unsold?
It was Chris Tanev, Jacob Markstrom, and Tyler Toffoli all in one year. It goes back all the way to the Dan Hamhuis incident, at least.
And even when the Canucks have successfully sold, it’s rarely been satisfying. Remember sitting around a couple of deadlines ago for the results of the “Tyler Motte Sweepstakes,” only to see him flipped to the New York Rangers for a paltry fourth rounder?
Or that one seven years back, when two beloved members of the 2011 roster in Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen were sold off for the sum total of Nikolay Goldobin, Jonathan Dahlen, and a fourth round pick?
The point is that selling can only ever been so enjoyable, and that it hasn’t ever even been that level of enjoyable in Vancouver. And before this year, the Canucks had been sellers at the deadline for way, way too long.
How long? It’s kind of astonishing when one really examines the timeline. Another way of looking at this is to ask “before 2024, when was the last time the Canucks faced a deadline that mattered for reasons other than selling?”
For that, we’ve obviously got to go back to the last time the Canucks were in a firm playoff position by the time the deadline rolled around. The year 2020 probably doesn’t count. That year, the Canucks had reached a lower-tier playoff position following a strong February, but were still a long way from being considered a contender. The Tyler Toffoli acquisition happened a bit out of nowhere, and was less an example of a competitive team “buying” and more a team desperately trying to just make it to the playoffs to save a managerial staff on its last legs.
One probably has to go all the way back to the 2014/15 campaign to find the last time the Canucks truly had designs on making themselves a better playoff competitor at the deadline via purchasing. After a couple of seasons on the outside looking in, the Canucks had hovered around the lower-end of the Western Conference playoff picture, and hit March 2 with a 36-23-3 record.
But by that point, the Canucks were clearly still on the downslide from 2011, and not all that interested in buying. In the end, Vancouver walked away from the 2015 Trade Deadline having just acquired Cory Conacher and Sven Baertschi, who was really more of a future-based asset.
No, to find the last time the Canucks were nearing a Trade Deadline that was exciting for the right reasons, we’ve got to go even further back.
We’re talking at least 2012/13. That year, the Canucks hit the April Trade Deadline at the top of the Pacific Division standings. But even then, the writing was on the wall a bit, and the dream of 2011 seemed all but dead. The Canucks stuck to just the acquisition of Derek Roy for a second and Kevin Connauton that year, and left it at that.
No, the last time the Canucks were truly potential big spenders at the Trade Deadline, the last time it really felt like what happened on the deadline might affect the team’s chances of winning hockey’s ultimate glory, was probably 2012. Having just tasted defeat in the 2011 Cup Finals, this edition of the Canucks stormed right back to the Presidents’ Trophy and looked poised for another run. With playoff-style hockey in mind, they hit the February 27, 2012 decade running and walked away having added Samuel Pahlsson, Andrew Gordon, and, in the biggest trade of the day, Zack Kassian, a result of a swap for Cody Hodgson.
It was a huge deadline in Canucks history.
It was also more than a decade ago!
When we say “it’s been a while,” we’re really not exaggerating. The last time the Canucks came into Trade Deadline Season with anywhere near the same energy they’re approaching Deadline 2024, Barack Obama was still president. “Gangnam Style” was at the top of the charts. The first Avengers movie hadn’t even come out yet.
It has been a long, long time. Which is all the more reason for fans of this team to really gear up to enjoy all the festivities between now and noon on Friday.
Stress? Sure. Speculate wildly? Of course. Walk away a little disappointed by the end? Almost inevitably.
But at the very least, fans will get the opportunity to cheer about the potential for good hockey players coming to the Canucks, not going away from them.
And that just feels a lot more “right” than the well-trodden alternative.

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