Mike Gillis’ best moves five years into his tenure

GMMG Top five

As with any General Manager, there are numerous hits and misses over the course of their career and this is no different for Vancouver Canucks current GM Mike Gillis.

Prior to being named GM in April of 2008, Gillis was a prominent agent whom represented the likes of star players such as former Vancouver stars Pavel Bure and Markus Naslund.

The fact that Gillis was an agent prior may have actually been a burden at first, considering he previously would take hard-line negotiations for his clients to maximize their salaries from the GMs with whom he now has to deal with.

Add in the fact that Gillis had no previous experience in the general management of a professional sports franchise and it must have been quite the adaptation as a rookie manager.

Although he may still not be included in the ‘old boys club’ of GMs, he has managed to adjust into the role and make some savvy moves along the way.

Let’s have a look my list of his top 5 so far:


While he may not have the absolute best drafting record in the show, many of the players under Gillis’ watch that have been selected in the NHL Entry draft have enjoyed success.

While some are still too early to tell, the organization has continually bolstered their prospects corps without having any top picks on can’t-miss prospects.

The first selection under Gillis’ reign, Cody Hodgson, has transitioned into a regular top-6 forward in the NHL (although not with the Canucks).

Frank Corrado appears to be headed for the regular duty this season and was a terrific value pick at 150th overall in 2011.


If not for Gillis, we would probably be without this guy. (Photo:

Other notable prospects include Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce, Nicklas Jensen, Jordan Schroeder, Kevin Connauton (traded) and Joe Cannatta, who are either on the brink of NHL service or appear have a bright future ahead.

Re-signing for value

Gillis has made some savvy re-signings to lock up a contending core while maintaining a manageable cap hit.

He has negotiated value signings such as Alex Burrows for four years at $2mm per in 2009, Ryan Kesler (5mm per year for six seasons), Daniel and Henrik Sedin each for five years and $30.5mm and Alex Edler at $5m per over six years (still somewhat TBD although he’d get more on open market).

Acquiring Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins at 2011 trade deadline

At the 2011 trade deadline Gillis made two cagey moves, bolstering his depth by acquiring Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins while only giving up Evan Oberg, Joel Perrault and two 3rd round draft picks.

Lapierre proved a vital playoff contributor and the gritty centerman, penalty killer and faceoff man the Canucks needed.

Much the same, Higgins provided depth scoring and intangible playoff performances before being re-signed until the end of 2016-17.

Both players helped the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup finals in 2010-11 and come within a game of being crowned champions.

Signing Dan Hamhuis

Dan Hamhuis had been playing 3rd fiddle behind the likes of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in Nashville, before the organization allowed him to walk as a free agent due to money constraints and defensive prospect depth.

Gillis ended up convincing the highly sought after free agent to sign based on organization, community and contract.


And he re-signed these two strapping young lads.

The contract he signed was for six years for $27m ($4.5m/year) which is a steal for an Olympic candidate. Hamhuis has been a fixture in the top-4 and brought a steady two-way game on defense that will see him in a Canuck uniform through his prime (barring a trade).

Also to note, Gillis has also made some savvy undrafted college signing such as Chris Tanev, who has also became a fixture on the backend.

Trading for Christian Ehrhoff (and Brad Lukowich)

Maybe one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory (I see you Alex Stojonov!), Gillis worked some magic acquiring Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich for lower-grade prospects Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi.

In pouncing on an organization facing salary cap constraints, Gillis managed to acquire a top-4 puck-moving defenseman and depth veteran player for one of the biggest draft mistakes in franchise history (White) and another okay prospect with size (Rahimi).

Ehrhoff paid immediate dividends and lead the Canucks’ blueline in scoring the following two seasons, with 44 and 50 points respectively.

There you have it. As I said, this was about the ups in the rollercoaster of his tenure as we all try to remain positive as the weather starts to turn to fall.


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