I wrote before the trade deadline that the Canucks could theoretically travel in any direction in the coming weeks. Where are they now?
Good: The Canucks started the fire sale by finally trading a frustrated Roberto Luongo to his home team in Florida. I call this one good (subjectively) because we all needed it. Luongo. Gillis. The fans. Vancouver. After the infamous snub at the Heritage Classic, Luongo’s agent started calling teams and initiated trade talks. Luongo needed to get out of this city. Gillis needed to finally pull the trigger on this contract and get it off his chest. The fans needed to figure out whether they hated or loved him. The last memory Luongo will have of a Vancouver game? 50,000 fans in BC Place chanting “We want Lu!” Not bad.
Good (ish): In return, we got center Shawn Matthias and goaltender Jakob Markstrom. Shawn Matthias is a big, young, third line center type who will bring a big body presence and some scoring. The goaltender is another fellow Swede, who was called “the best goalie not in the NHL” just a couple years ago. That opinion, since his NHL debut, has changed dramatically. He’s been called overrated and inconsistent, so it will be interesting to see how he does in the Vancouver goalie graveyard.
Bad: Ryan Kesler. After (supposedly) asking out of Vancouver, he didn’t get his (supposed) wish. Ryan Kesler is a horrible liar. He started decently with the media saying, “I’m happy to be a Canuck,” only to finish with, “I should’ve listened to Lu, cause he said whether I wanted out or not, I’m staying here.” Someone who wants to be a Canuck doesn’t share something like that. Where does he go from here? Will he be disgruntled and sour? Will he care?
Bad: I jumped back and forth on whether not trading him at the trade deadline was good or bad. I decided on bad and here’s why: Ryan Kesler’s trade value will never be higher. Can you trade him at the draft? Sure, but the team that gets him won’t get an extra playoff run out of him. I’ll say a subtle “good,” because the offer wasn’t good enough. The best offer from Pittsburgh was Brandon Sutter and two picks. That’s not even close to good. The question isn’t “why didn’t Gillis trade him?!” The question is, “why wasn’t the offer better if there was a bidding war for the best player on the market?”
Bad: Where does this leave us now? As Ray Ferraro puts it: “half-pregnant.” Not good enough to push for a playoff position and make some noise in the playoffs, and not bad enough to get a good draft pick out of the season. They traded Luongo. Everyone thought this was the start of the
rebuild new Canucks era. If ownership wants the revenue from two playoff games, they shouldn’t have traded anyone, including Luongo, and instead, should have pushed for the playoffs. If ownership wanted to start building for the future, they should’ve gotten rid of Luongo, Kesler, and asked Edler to move his no-trade clause. Instead of purposefully choosing, we did 1/3 things and we’re now in no man’s land. What’s worse than decidedly choosing and making the wrong decision? Choosing nothing and ending up uselessly on the fence.
Good: If the Canucks can somehow stumble into the playoffs, they’ll play the first ranked Ducks or Blues. If it’s the Blues, well, we’re somehow 3-0 against them this year.
Bad: The Canucks of 2014 are not the Canucks of 2011. This version of the Canucks has 4 regulation wins in the past 26 games: 2-1 vs Edmonton, 2-1 vs Calgary, 2-1 vs St Louis and 1-0 vs St Louis. Ruh roh.
Bad: 2-7-1 in their last 10. The offense is ranked 27th. We are -21 in goal differential. We have the 28th ranked powerplay. Those are some absolutely brutal numbers.
Good: At least we’re still not as bad as Edmonton.
Bad: The reason everything looks so desperately bleak, grey and horrible? Expectations. From 1994 until 2011, the fans had no big expectations. We, the fans, were happy for the playoffs. We were ecstatic for a series win. We were realistic about a second round playoff exit. Now, because of 2011, we’ve caught Stanley Cupitis. It’s a real thing. Don’t look it up, just trust me.
This current Canucks team, in 2006, is just fine. Pushing and battling for a playoff spot and not really dominating. After a close call in 2011, playing with the Stanley Cup in the building twice, we expect big things. First round of the playoffs? Pffft. That’s for sissies. Second round? Automatic. If the fans expect a playoff appearance, and we get the Finals, everything is amazing. If we expect the Finals and get a playoff appearance, well, prepare for a summer fire sale.