As of July 3rd, Mike Gillis and his Vancouver Canucks seem to have failed to make their team better when they have had so much cap space to spend. The Canucks have lost their captain Markus Naslund to the New York Rangers, which in the eyes of many means they have lost out on Mats Sundin and Pavol Demitra as well.
The Canucks did not go without making an addition to their lineup. They signed Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Johnson both of which make our team a tougher team to play against. Johnson is a good defensive player who can really skate. He kills penalties and he blocks a lot of shots. Darcy Hordichuk is a tough guy who doesn't take bad penalties when he's playing aggressive hockey.
I don't think there are many who consider adding either player a mistake. They are low risk moves that help the team in a specific area, however the Canucks problem was not seen to be its defense. The Canucks problem was scoring, and neither of these players help to fix that problem.
The offer the Canucks made to Mats Sundin was an offer to fix their scoring problems. They were going to get a player who can carry a line all by himself and help his team in a variety of ways that include scoring goals, making plays, and fighting hard for pucks. Gillis had said that Mats Sundin was his number one guy for playing such great hockey in a hockey market where there was a lot of media pressure on a team that was hard to play well for. Mats Sundin was his number one guy.
Gillis was also shutdown by the Blues matching the offer sheet he signed Backes to. When asked if he made enemies with the Blues by using such a tactic, he said that the offer sheet was within the rules. He also made a remark on trades saying they were "born out of necessity." Mike Gillis believes if two teams are interested in the assets each other has they come togethor to make a trade not because they like each other, but because each team realizes that their fans charge them with a job to make their team better and making a trade even with a team they don't particularly like is a way to fulfill that job.
Gillis has not done much of anything at all to fix the problem of scoring goals for his team. With Markus Naslund leaving the Canucks the scoring woes seem to be growing not diminishing at this point in time. Is it Mike Gillis' fault that the Canucks are in the position they are in now?
I don't believe so. Mike Gillis was aggressive on the free agent market. He made the best offer to the player he wanted most. He made a risky move in offering Backes an offer sheet and was shut down as well. There are other Canuck faithful who may think we would have been better off with Dave Nonis in charge. However let's compare the offers Gillis has made so far with what Dave Nonis' plan was.
Dave Nonis was unwilling to trade his youth, and was also a GM who never wanted to overpay one single player. He was a GM who would rather spend ten million on two or three players than one player. With Dave Nonis we would not have seen an offer made to Mats Sundin to make him one of the highest paid players in the league. With Dave Nonis we would likely be in the same position we are now. Waiting for more rosters to shape up so the trade market can open. Only we would not have seen the aggressive offers for Sundin and Backes.
The difference between Mike Gillis and Dave Nonis is they way they want to build a team. Mike Gillis will go out and make a move to get a player he thinks will really help this team. Canuck fans should not forget that Mike Gillis was brought in to make changes to this team. Dave Nonis was a GM who was reluctant to surrender players who were already assets to his team. Mike Gillis seems to be willing to trade what other teams want to get what he wants.
With Mike Gillis at the helm there is a better chance that the Canucks will make a good old fashioned hockey trade. The Canucks may part with players over the next few weeks many of us will not to see go, but they will bring the Canucks players that Mike Gillis believes will put our team in the best position to win.
It's hard to say what moves Dave Nonis would be making right now, because he is not part of our front office anymore. It is easy to see so far that Mike Gillis has not acquired the players he wanted, but it is not because he did not do everything in his power to get those players to come here.
Just because Mats Sundin isn't coming does not mean that no free agents are coming here. Now that the top cards of Hossa, Rolston, Malone, and Naslund have been played. The bottom of the deck is ready to be played. There's still quality players available who can make the Canucks a better team than they were last year. All Canuck fans need to hope for is that Mike Gillis sees players in that deck that he wants to have on his team. If he does, you can bet he will do his very best to get them wearing blue and green by the Fall.