July 01, 2012

Gillis Smart to do Nothing

It was yet another frustrating Canada Day for Canucks fans. Hoping for a big splash to put the demons of a first-round loss to Los Angeles behind them, they were disappointed by a quiet day for Mike Gillis.

The Vancouver Canucks lost two blueliners on Sunday, dependable Aaron Rome, and beloved Sami Salo taking deals in Dallas and Tampa respectively. The only man they got back was former Panther (seriously) Jason Garrison, inking the 27-year-old to a six year deal at a $4.6 million cap hit.

It doesn't seem so bad at first, but after losing Ehrhoff in 2011 and finding no replacement, there was surely an expectation the Canucks would do more with their rumoured cap space of just over $10 million.

But 9:00 am hit on July 1st, and defenseman after defenseman were gobbled up, as were most of the gritty bottom-six forwards, and we were left to wonder if anything was going to be done to address the needs of the club.

Finally, at around 5:00 pm, Mike Gillis answered by signing Garrison, a two-way defender. It was a desperately needed addition, there's no doubt about that, but it was not quite the impactful move most were waiting for.

It isn't the first time; last summer Gillis' only acquisition was Marco Sturm, hardly a headliner, and he proved useless not even a month into his stint in Vancouver. In fact, tally up the score over the last two offseasons, and the Canucks have still lost two top-four defensemen, and have only brought back a borderline top-four guy.

But still, Gillis remains patient. Not rushing a Luongo trade, not going on a spending spree to patch up the roster. Fans can only cringe at his insistence that Vancouver has no reason to rush into revamping their team.

The thing is, he's right.

Waiting on bolstering the lineup through trades or free agents makes absolute sense from the Canuck's perspective, forcing the action would only restrict Gillis' ability get this team ready for a playoff run.

The most scrutinized example is Roberto Luongo's situation. Gillis has sworn up and down that he has no timetable for trading his netminder, and is still open to bringing him back next season, if he gets less-than-decent offers.

Luongo back for another season? After all the drama with Cory Schneider taking the starting job? Your brain throbs just thinking about it. Let's just get rid of this has-been and move on, right?

Slow down a second, though. Would starting the year with Luongo still a Canuck be that bad? We saw the Luongo-Schneider tandem give Vancouver the most solid goaltending in the league last year. We know the duo would be at least as effective this season.

With Schneider locked up for three more years, the threat of pushing Cory away by keeping Luongo is no longer an issue. Schneider's extension takes care of any negative impact keeping Roberto Luongo would have otherwise had. Doing just that would not be the end of the world. Gillis might as well milk Luongo for what he's worth.

Sure the cap room would have been nice for free agency, but do the Canucks really want to be loading up on UFA's? These guys are impossible to get without paying more than they are worth. Even when Gillis signed the Garrison deal, which was considered a bargain by Sunday's standards, he still overpaid.

Vancouver would be smarter to hold off until the trade deadline. Not only Gillis be able to get players without insane contracts, but he would also have the luxury of waiting until February before he is forced to make any rash decisions.

Right now, there are too many question marks around this team to make a truly confident move. We don't know which Edler will show up, which Bieksa will show up, whether or not Kesler will be healthy, whether or not Schneider will turn out to be the goalie we think he will. By the end of February, the Canucks will have a better idea of who they have, who tho need, and who they can afford to give up.

Would it be nice fill all of Vancouver's holes now? Of course. But is the risk worth the reward? Will the five extra months of improved play make any difference? Seriously, the Canucks could do absolutely nothing, walk into October with a terrible defensive corps, and they would still be a lock to win the Northwest Division.

The Canucks need players not for the regular season, but for the playoffs. Whether or Vancouver ends up with 105 points or 115, the number will be just that: a number. What counts is how they play come springtime, and when that playoff roster is set, nobody is going to care whether those names have been there for ten months or for two.

1 comment:

  1. Why can't we be more like the Kings?! Shitty season worked out pretty damn well for them...