STRAIGHT FROM THE GM
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis held a press conference following today's NHL trade deadline to discuss his team's strategy, why the Canucks did not make any trades, and address lingering rumours.
“We talked to a number of teams about a number of possibilities, but giving up second round picks for players that weren’t long-term players here wasn’t something that I agreed [with] and decided not to do, as long as eight months ago. That wasn’t going to change today.
“Because Ryan Kesler
is playing so well on the second line, we thought that perhaps if we could get some more depth at centre ice, we’d be happy. But [all] of the things we tried came with a second round pick as a price tag. And the analysis that I’ve done, there’s great players that come out of the last half of the second round.
“The moves that [some teams] were making were to shore up injuries, we don’t have any injuries. Our team has won 11 out of 12, we haven’t struggled, all our players are starting to play. I think the last two games in particular have been our best two games of the season. If that’s the mix that we have, we were more than happy moving ahead with it.
“We have what believe is a great group of players, character-wise, competitive-wise and to make change for the sake of change was not something I was willing to do."
Gillis is also happy with the depth in the organization.
“I think we [have depth] now. We’ve got Alex Bolduc, Jason Krog, quality defencemen in Manitoba that we know we can count on for games. We’ve got eight NHL defencemen here. I think it’s a very different scenario than last year. We’ve got two high-quality lines that I think can play with anyone in the League. So I think there’s a lot more depth."
Responding to a question about his first trade deadline as a general manager, Gillis told reporters that it was a stressful day, because they're dealing with players that they care about. Management went in knowing they would be content with their team if no moves were made and that is the way it turned out.
“I was completely prepared to spent every cent of that money [left under the cap] if the right deal was there," said Gillis. "Cap space didn’t really enter into the equation, other than the fact that we had it. If there was something there that allowed us to use that cap space and improve we would have done it without hesitation.
“We prepared a long time for today. The preparation involved an assessment of the economy, an assessment of where the potential cap number is going to be next year, the year after and the following year.
“To take on salaries that would be marginal upgrades if they were upgrades at all on the players we currently have that have term and a high number, just doesn’t make sense to me. So we weren’t going to go in that direction no matter what."COMPONENTS OF THE TEAM
A few Canuck players were mentioned in the swirling rumours leading up to the March 4th NHL trade deadline. Gillis took some time afterwards to address the speculation, including an alleged deal for Flordia d-man Jay Bouwmeester.
“Kevin [Bieksa’s] name was never mentioned by me," said Gillis. "I don’t know how that stuff gets out. He and I watched with a whole lot of amusement about this deal that we were apparently doing. I spoke to Jacques Martin this morning at 5:45 am our time and that was the last time I spoke with him. I don’t know how this back and forth stuff began or where it came from but it’s not true.
“Mattias and I spoke a month ago and I told him at the time that we were not going to ask him to waive his no-trade and we did not."
Gillis admitted that had the team not signed Mats Sundin, they likely would have headed into the trade deadline with a different approach.
“This year I felt that if we got Mats Sundin that would be the biggest deal that we would do," said Gillis. "And it didn’t cost us any players and it didn’t cost us any draft picks.
"We picked up Ossi Vaananen, which we were really pleased about. There were multiple claims on Ossi. We got more depth on our defence with a NHL-quality player.
“Right now we’ve given up a seventh round pick for Jason LaBarbera who came in and played for us when we were in some real goaltending difficulty. He ended up helping us get six points in the standings, which may be critical. So we were prepared to do that at the time. We look at Jason not as a short term fix, but a long term player here hopefully."
The day before the trade deadline the Canucks signed winger Alex Burrows to a four year extension, something Gillis felt was important to alleviate pressure on his team and Burrows.
“I felt that it was the best thing for our team," said Gillis. "Alex is a player that our team really respects and his story is a great story. He’s trending upwards and I felt that the value was there. I felt that it was a deal we could make based on our core group of players and I really didn’t want to feel pressure of suggestions that we should move him or get him out of here at the trade deadline because he was an unsigned player."
Contract negotiations are continuing for Henrik and Daniel Sedin
“We’ve discussed all of the issues, I think we have a very clear idea," said Gillis. "And I think both sides are optimistic that something will get done."