The newest Vancouver Canucks: a meet and greet

Canucks Speed Dating

For the first five hours of the trade deadline, everything about the morning was a dud.

The Insanity That Was

Rick Nash wasn’t going anywhere, Bryan Allen and Steve Ott were taken off the table, and if the few trades that did go through weren’t predominately involving Canadian teams, TSN and Sportscentre would have had a true disaster on their hands.

And then, like Steve Jobs at an Apple preview, there was one final surprise tucked away for Vancouver Canucks fans at the end of the morning that redefined everything.

A blockbuster deal that was easily the biggest of the day and sparked reaction not seen in a very long time in Vancouver: people were mad at Mike Gillis.

So who are these new Canucks acquired in three separate deals and can they fill the Cody Hodgson sized hole in your heart?

Sami Pahlsson

Let’s start with the first new Canucks forward acquired on the day from Columbus for a pair of mid-range draft picks. Pahlsson, 34, is a shutdown centre with a cup ring from his days in Anaheim where he formed a very effective checking line with Travis Moen and Rob Neidermayer.

Pahlsson is also from the same town as the Sedins, Markus Naslund, and Peter Forsberg and played with the twins way back when with MODO.

It remains to be seen how much gas Pahlsson has left in the tank, but he could be a very effective pickup in the vein of Maxim Lapierre last year, especially now that the third line centre role looks to be vacant.

This is the simple, cost-effective deadline move Mike Gillis is now known for. As a bonus, the Canucks threw in Taylor Ellington who was really just taking up a contract slot.

Andrew Gordon

Gordon was the last player acquired in an AHL move for defender Sebastian Erixon. The 26 year old has 12 NHL games under his belt and is nearly a point-per-game in the AHL. He’ll be good forward depth for the Wolves, who are hurting from the litany of injuries to the bubble forwards this year.

Zack Kassian

Kassian is the gritty power forward the Canucks have needed since Bertuzzi left...

For the Canucks, Gordon is probably a Plan D to see time with the big club this year. Gordon has big league speed but his lack of size may limit his upside.

Marc-André Gragnani

Essentially swapped for Alex Sulzer, Gragnani is an interesting pick-up. Though has just 59 games in the NHL, he also put up seven points in seven playoff games last spring.

His offensive game is his calling card as his defensive game still needs work if he’s going to stick in the big leagues. His +10 rating on a bad Sabres team could be a good sign for the 24 year old kid.

He’s not exactly the calibre of defenceman many fans were hoping Gillis would pick up at the deadline but he’s still a welcome addition.

Zack Kassian

The outcry of Hodgson supporters today has focused on such things as this being the Cam Neely trade redux. Now that’s silly, and not just because Kassian is a bit younger than Barry Pederson.

It’s also silly because if anyone in this deal is Neely it’s Zack Kassian, that intriguing blend of size and skill that reminds you of Milan Lucic or Todd Bertuzzi. He’s the power forward the organization has been attempting to find since Steve Bernier, but as of right now all anyone can think of is the price tag.

The 13th overall pick in 2009 put up 77 points in 56 games for the Windsor Spitfires in 2010-2011 and has 32 points in 35 OHL playoff games.

He comes with Memorial Cup and World Junior Championship experience and has 15 goals in 30 games in the AHL this year though just three goals and seven points in 27 games in the NHL.

The timing of the movie is curious as it could be easily argued that Hodgson is more NHL ready now than Kassian but Kassian is the type of forward the Canucks wish they had last June.

As far as team needs go, he fills them better than Hodgson, though admittedly that level of centre depth is never a bad thing.

It has the potential to go down as one of the biggest trades in franchise history no matter where the two kids go from here. This is a trade that will be debated and re-visited for years as both players have seemingly over a decade of playing time left to remind both sides what could have been.

It should be interesting too to see what exactly comes out about the long rumoured riff between Cody and management.

I never quite believed it, but a move like this is rarely if ever made without some strings being pulled behind the scenes by agents.

Kassian, meanwhile, is no table scrap and if he becomes more Todd Bertuzzi than Taylor Pyatt this deal could be a whole lot easier to swallow for the Cody Hodgson fan club.

Regardless, what a day.


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About Richard Hodges

A proud Vancouverite with a lifelong passion for the home teams that some would classify as pointless and disturbing. Now realizes that The Linden Tree is not the play you think it would be.
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  • I know Hodgson’s confidence has really been gutted by playing in Columbus for so long, but if the guy can shut down the Sedins when he’s on his game, he can do anything. I’m looking forward to see how the team gels around the new rougher, more defensive depth in the lineup. 

    • NWSportsBeat

      I think you mean Pahlsson right?

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