Canucks GM Mike Gillis gets no deals done, but touts 'pretty strong lineup,' on NHL trade deadline day
General manager insists team has pieces it needs to make a Stanley Cup run
Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis (above) maintained Wednesday that his team accomplished its main goal heading into the week by acquiring centre Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday for a second-round pick and minor-league defenceman Kevin Connauton.
Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG files
VANCOUVER — Mike Gillis says teams need a lot of luck to win the Stanley Cup.
The Vancouver Canucks now must hope they get a lot more of it than their general manager did on Wednesday.
Gillis and the Canucks came up empty on trade deadline day and are now gambling that Tuesday's acquisition of centre Derek Roy and the impending return of injured centre Ryan Kesler will be enough to carry the team deep into the playoffs.
Gillis went down swinging on a couple of potential deals Wednesday, leaving the Canucks with at least one significant hole on their roster and one unhappy goalie.
Not only did Gillis fail to deal Roberto Luongo, he also was unable to add any more offensive punch to a team that has had real trouble scoring goals this season.
The Canucks should be buoyed by Kesler's return, likely some time next week, but Gillis was unable to add a proven winger to complement Kesler on Vancouver's second line.
"We made a big pitch to get Ryane Clowe, we didn't end up with him because of personal reasons," Gillis told a news conference at Rogers Arena. "He was a player we were after."
Seventeen deals were made on a relatively quiet trade deadline day involving 30 players. The Canucks were not in on any of them, but Gillis said it was not from a lack of trying.
"We were in every deal we could possibly get in," he said. "They often don't work out, so you just have to keep staying in them and staying in them. With our lineup the way it is now, I think we are strong down the middle, our defence is strong, our goaltending is strong. We need to get some support from our wingers and score more goals. I think we have a pretty strong lineup."
Gillis maintained the team accomplished its main goal heading into the week by acquiring Roy from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday for a second-round pick and minor-league defenceman Kevin Connauton.
"That was our primary focus, to get a third-line centre," Gillis said.
Roy skated between Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins in Wednesday's practice. Presumably, Mason Raymond will join Kesler on the second line, but who else?
If coach Alain Vigneault knows, he wasn't saying on Wednesday after he spent the morning in the team's trade deadline day war room.
"I think we'll address that situation when Ryan is back with the team," Vigneault said. "Now we've got 12 healthy forwards and seven healthy defencemen so we are going to try and come up with a plan that is best suited for that group that we have right now. When those guys do come back we'll see how the pieces fit. We don't have a lot of time, we have 12 regular-season games left. We have to make some good decisions."
In hindsight, assistant general manager Laurence Gilman may regret saying in a radio interview after the Roy trade on Tuesday that the Canucks weren't done dealing and were going "all-in" in an attempt to chase a Stanley Cup.
A day later, with no new additional reinforcements, Gillis suggested the Canucks lineup is good enough, with some luck, to compete for the Cup.
"I think with the addition of Derek we filled a real need that we have and with Ryan coming back, Zack (Kassian) will be coming back, Mason (Raymond) will be back, Dale Weise will be coming back, so we are going to fill out our roster with good players," Gillis said.
"I think to win in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you need two things: You need goaltending and you need some luck. And the third thing is you have to have a good team. So I think we have a good team, we need great goaltending and we need to get some luck. You can emerge from the West if you get those things, but everything does have to go perfectly for you to win the Stanley Cup."
Later in the day, the Canucks did recall Kassian from the Chicago Wolves. The big winger played just one game after being sent down on Sunday.
After finishing second in the pursuit of Clowe on Tuesday, the Canucks again were bridesmaids in an attempt to reacquire Raffi Torres from the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday.
"We were talking to them about Raffi for some time now," Gillis said. "He is a player we are familiar with. He was a good player here and we were talking to them all day today and it didn't work out for us."
The Sharks got Torres for a third-round pick. The Canucks were also believed to be offering a third-rounder. The Sharks won out because their third-round pick is one they acquired from the Florida Panthers and hence a much higher pick than the Vancouver's.
The Canucks were also in the market for another right-hand shot depth defenceman, but again came up empty.
The Minnesota Wild, the team the Canucks are chasing in the Northwest Division, added some significant offence Wednesday when they acquired Jason Pominville from the Buffalo Sabres.
The Canuck players now know exactly what their team is as the season winds down. Captain Henrik Sedin thinks the addition of Roy and the return of Kesler should give the team a big boost.
"I think Derek is a great pickup for us," Henrik said. "We played shorthanded for the most part this year, missing Kes and (David) Booth and other guys with injuries. Those are big holes to fill. I don't think people realize that a lot of other teams have gotten better and, from injuries, we have gotten worse. And we're still where we are. We've been winning games and we know we can play better and that's going to come with getting guys back."
That view was echoed by winger Chris Higgins.
"Kes is going to be a big addition," Higgins said. "We have gone almost the whole season without him so it is kind of like getting a new player back with him."
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