Opening the window
There’s been a fear since the Canucks early playoff exit that the window for this core to bring a Stanley Cup to Vancouver had perhaps a few years left until old age spoiled them. The Canucks weren’t getting younger with an average age of 28.9, and with few bluechip prospects in the pipeline, comparisons to the Calgary Flames’ long slide after the 2004 cup run were plenty.
Gillis, for his part, promised a ‘reset’ in his post-mortem press conference to prevent such an outcome, and even though he traded the younger goalie at this weekend’s draft, he also made some significant moves to help the Canucks plan for the future, aka life without the Sedins.
When added to a prospect pool that includes Niklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, Frank Corrado, and Kellan Lain, not to mention Zack Kassian and Chris Tanev on the big club, the next generation doesn’t seem so bad.
The tricky part is turning this group from potential NHL players to actual NHL players, something that could take years or simply never happen. Prospects, even those drafted high or with a family pedigree, have a tendency to bust and it’s almost impossible to predict who the culprits will be.
The Canucks need a push from the youth sooner rather than later, in part because the inevitable Sedin decline will take a large toll on the team if their contributions cannot be replaced and in part because the Canucks will be perpetually bumping up against the cap.
They’ll need the contributions of players on entry level contracts to give them the push needed to put them over their competition in the West.
Still, the future is definitely brighter than it was one week ago, particularly at centre, a position that traditionally can win championships.
Gillis, recognizing quality centres are almost impossible to acquire outside of the draft can now offer a multitude of bluechip prospects that can not only step in to play in the bottom-six in the short term but graduate to the top-six when Father Time catches up to Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin.
With one eye towards the future, Mike Gillis has set the Canucks up for future success.