It has been an up and down season for the Vancouver Canucks, spanning a 7 game winning streak during the month of January, to losing 7 in a row through the month of February, where the offence mustered just 7 goals combined in these losses. As Deadline Day approached, it became clear that the Vancouver Canucks would not be a Cup Contender with their anemic offensive presence. Rumours surrounded star center Ryan Kesler, who reportedly wanted a trade out of Vancouver Something had to be done to stop their freefall in the standings.
And so, a day before the NHL Trade Deadline, franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo was traded, alongside minor leaguer Steven Anthony, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for prospect goaltender Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias, ending the 21 month goaltender soap opera surrounding Luongo and his “untradeable” contract.
To me, this move signified the end of the Canucks’ desire to contend for the postseason this year. The return for Luongo is hardly considered significant enough to make an immediate impact for this team, given that Markstrom has struggled in his first stint within the NHL, and Matthias has never scored more than 14 goals in a season. All signs from this trade point to Canucks management hoping for long term gain from this deal, but I am of the opinion that this trade was lacking in value, and fails to address Vancouver’s need for forward depth for the future.
But perhaps the most significant move was the one that never materialized, as Ryan Kesler stayed put on the Canucks after hours of speculation linking his name heading to the Penguins, Flyers, and Ducks. Personally, I felt that the rebuilding process for this team would have been centered (pardon the pun) around Kesler. He is unquestionably the best player on the Canucks, playing in just about every role the team needs him to. You just don’t get rid of versatile players like him. In addition, the deals that surfaced to acquire Kesler’s services, particularly from Pittsburgh, were sorely lacking in value, and would have been another unnecessary step back for Gillis and his struggling team.
As if it wasn’t apparent enough from the middle of this season, the last several days have cemented the Vancouver Canucks as a team looking to restructure, rebuild, whatever you want to call it. This is a team that is no longer considered as a powerhouse in the Western Conference, no longer a threat to light up opponent goaltenders, and no longer able to contend for the Stanley Cup. Luongo’s departure is a start of a new era for this franchise, leaving behind more questions surrounding the future than there are answers.
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