For most of the day, the Vancouver Canucks were rumored to be one of the front-runners to acquire Jay Bouwmeester from the Florida Panthers. They were also apparently after a 3rd line center. By the end of the day, Mike Gillis determined the price tags were too high and decided to pass on the action.
Gillis is obviously happy with his team’s current make up and why wouldn’t he be? The Canucks sit in 5th place in the Western Conference, having won 11 of their last 13 games. They have 19 games left in the regular season and only 3 of those games are against teams that sit on top of them in the standings; and in fact, 12 of their remaining games are against teams that won’t make the playoffs and were in seller mode today. Barring a complete collapse – knock on wood – they should return to the postseason.
Whether or not the Canucks are good enough to make some serious noise in the playoffs is a different question. At the very least, I think they are good enough to be competitive in the postseason. Assuming they stay healthy, they’ll have 2 scoring lines, a not-so-bad bottom 2 lines, 8 NHL defensemen, and of course, Luongo.
It was tough to watch as other teams loaded up – Calgary added a top-6 forward (Olli Jokinen) and a top-4 defenseman (Jordan Leopold), San Jose added Travis Moen and Kent Huskins, and Chicago added Sammy Pahlsson – but the Canucks would’ve mortgaged their future to keep up. To acquire Bouwmeester, the cost was Kevin Bieksa, Mason Raymond and a 1st round draft pick. To acquire a 3rd line center, the cost was a 2nd round draft pick. If they had a bit more organizational depth, maybe the Canucks actually pull off these deals; unfortunately, they don’t.
For now, Gillis has chosen the more prudent path, simply keeping together a team that’s not perfect but can be competitive. The hope is that they can stay healthy, continue their very good play of late and carry it into the playoffs where anything can happen.