All the questions and possibilities that were floating around on the eve of the NHL trade deadline day have been answered, all the possibilities have been unfolded, and all the trades have been completed. Yes, the NHL trade deadline has come and gone for another year and the Canucks made a little splash by trading away long-time forward Matt Cooke for a more offensively gifted player in Matt Pettinger.
With other western teams bulking up their rosters the Vancouver Canucks were expected to improve their offensive flare by adding a top six forward to their roster, and they attempted to do so. Although they were unsuccessful in landing an elite NHL player, Canuck management was able to dig out an unpolished gem from Washington in the form of the left winger and Victoria native.
Pettinger, 27, joins the Canucks from the Washington Capitals where he has recorded seven points (2-5-7) and 25 penalty minutes in 56 games played in 2007-08. The 6’1”, 205 pound left winger has spent seven seasons with Washington, registering 99 points (52-47-99) and 169 penalty minutes in 334 career games.
As with any team, the Vancouver dressing room was in an array of mixed emotions following the announcement as they said goodbye to long time friend and teammate, while preparing to say hello to the organizations newest member.
“I played with Matt in Washington, he’s definitely has got some upside on the offense side of the puck,” said one-time Capital Trevor Linden. “He’s a quick skater and has a very good shot; I think he is the type of player that can play in all situations: he can kill penalties, he can fit in on the powerplay, and he can play with the top line.”
“Pettinger can bring some offense,” continued Linden. “If you put him with the right people I think he can contribute, he’s got some very good offensive tools and if he’s in the right situation I think he will contribute in that area.”
While the offensive potential of Pettinger is much needed and welcomed in Vancouver, losing an individual who has spent the better part of ten years battling for this team is no easy task.
“Cookie was a great team mate, and I think a lot of guys are going to miss him, he’s a great friend too,” said Alex Burrows who could be said to have replaced Cooke as the team’s super pest. “He’s been here for a long time and he had the Canuck logo tattooed on his heart I’m sure. I think he really enjoyed the city and enjoyed playing here.”
While General Manager Dave Nonis did acquire a potential offensive upgrade, some Vancouverites may not be convinced that it is enough. Considering the improvements conference rivals the Dallas Stars (acquiring Brad Richards), San Jose Sharks (acquiring Brian Campbell), and Colorado Avalanche (acquiring Peter Forsberg) have made, some may be quick to jump on Nonis for not being able to pull the trigger. However, not being able to do so does not mean that the Canucks GM did not go for it, as he made several offers to different teams for a variety of players that should have been good enough.
“I think we put packages out here that in our mind that were superior to some of the packages that were accepted,” said Dave Nonis. “With that being said, I wasn’t about to take significant young roster players off our team. At his point in order to land a player I think it would have set us back, and for me it was a situation that at the end of the day it didn’t make sense for us.”
“You don’t want to do a deal just to make one or just to say you did something, in doing so you take away from your club,” continued Nonis. “We could of added 4 or 5 guys in the last hour easily that became available that weren’t going to be expensive, but you look at your line up and think their not better than what we have. When you start adding players that aren’t necessarily going to be an upgrade I think you’ve done your team a great disservice.”
Would of, could of, should of, but now the deadline is gone and the Canucks are left with a roster that will be responsible for their 2007-2008 cup run. The only question that remains, are they good enough to get the job done?
Reassuringly, the Canucks believe in themselves and think they have got what it takes to be successful.
We’re comfortable with the guys we have in this locker room and now we’re getting healthy,” said goaltender Roberto Luongo
whose comments reflected many of the personnel throughout the Canuck organization. “We’re totally fine and we’re playing well right now. We have a good confidence level going and I think we know what type of team we are and what type of hockey we need to play to win games, and it doesn’t matter who we’re facing.”