Canucks Acquire New Lunchbucket

Every year at the NHL trade deadline, I get excited. And every year, I’m disappointed. It’s 20 minutes past the noon PST deadline, and the only deal the Canucks have made is this one:

  • Matt Cooke for Matt Pettinger

There’s still time to announce a splashy deal, and I hope I’m wrong, but whiskey tango foxtrot, Dave Nonis? Have you not been paying attention to your team this season?

What’s the knock against the current version of the Canucks? They can’t score enough goals. They couldn’t do it last season, and they can’t do it this season. Of the teams currently in the playoffs, they are among the lowest in team scoring.

So what does GM Dave Nonis do? He subtracts five goals from the team. Cooke has scored seven thus far this season, and Pettinger has scored two. There were plenty of scorers on the table, and he hasn’t landed any of them.

We’ve heard the excuses year after year: the price is too high, he doesn’t want to mortgage the team’s future, deadline trades rarely have impact and so forth. Bollocks, I say, and here’s why:

  • Sooner or later, you’ve got to take a chance and roll the dice.
  • Any team that has Roberto Luongo always has a chance in the post-season.
  • A trade is an important gesture to the team and the fans–it’s a tactical demonstration of dedication to improvement. The team is in good shape financially, so maybe they’re under-motivated to improve?

I don’t pretend to be a hockey genius, and I know about 5% of what Nonis knows about his industry. Still, as a fan, I’m tired of being consistently disappointed at the deadline.

I hope I’m wrong, and that the Canucks announce a deal in the next hour or two. Heck, Olli Jokinen hasn’t left Florida yet. I fear, however, that the team will suffer another early departure from the playoffs after a lot of 2-1 losses.

That said, I am happy to see the end of Matt Cooke. He’s been overpaid and keeping a roster spot from a younger player for years.


  1. Your nemesis has finally been sent packing. I always liked Cooke, but I think I gave him more credit recently for his performance in past years.

    That said, the overall analysis of the team needing more scoring isn’t necessarily sound. Teams with a lack of scoring (Calgary, Edmonton, Anaheim) have all made the finals in the past 3 years because their top-tier scorers have delivered, their second-tier scorers have chipped in opportune goals and they’ve stymied their opposition.

    The top factor has been and will continue to be goaltending, followed by team defense. In both categories the Canucks look sound and their prospects are improving. I think they’re a dark horse team that could go deep into the playoffs if their power play keeps up the fine work and with the right opportunistic scoring.

    They’ll average giving up 2.14 goals a game and they’ll score 2.4. Not great margins of victory, but cumulative victories over the course of a 7-gave series.

  2. I am one of the few people that were extremely happy with how Nonis played things this year. The Canucks need a power scoring forward, but as Burke says, the new way of the NHL is to have a couple of high paying dudes and a roster of talented young cheap restricted free agents.

    The Canucks have plenty of this: Edler, Schneider, Kessler, Raymond. Bourdon, Jaffray and Shannon may develop as well. They also have players in the future who will demand a raise, namely Luango and the Sedins. Their defensive core is solid and relative bargains: Salo, Mitchel, Bieksa and Ohlund.

    So essentially they have all the pieces except they need more scoring up front and roughness. Naslund and Morrison come off the books this year meaning they can go out and get a great free agent or possibly trade for someone in a better market. Hell they may even be able to keep one and pick-up another if they are lucky.

    Nonis, recognizing all this, went after trades well. Getting nothing decent he kept picks (which he hasn’t done in the last 2 years), kept his talent and dealt away a gritty, 10-15 goal player in a slump paid $1.5 mil for a gritty, 15-20 goal player in a slump paid $1.1 mil.

    Way to go Nonis…

  3. I’m on Darren’s side – we should have ditched Cooke years ago, right about when he stopped doing anything useful. Pettinger’s younger, cheaper, and had 15 goals last year and 20 the year before…

    Not a blockbuster, but a good trade.

  4. James: I like your theory, and I hope you’re right. Here’s a quick analysis of the last five years for the playoff finalists, showing their rankings for goals scored during the pertinent regular season:

    Ottawa: 2
    Anaheim: 8

    Carolina: 3
    Edmonton: 15

    Tampa Bay: 3
    Calgary: 19

    New Jersey: 14
    Anaheim: 22

    Detroit: 2
    Carolina: 13

    Vancouver is currently ranked #23 for this season. That worries me.

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