GMMG Analysis: Inherent risks of playing the NHL waiting game

Patience isn’t always a virtue

I’m sure that most Canucks fans will gladly tell you that now. In fact, I’d venture to say that certain people in the Canucks‘ management would agree with that statement to a varying extent.

In the summer of 2012 before the lockout began, it was rumoured that Leafs had offered a package consisting of Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Ben Scrivens for Roberto Luongo.

As we know, Gillis was ultimately forced to deal Cory Schneider for the 9th overall draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry draft (used to select London Knight center Bo Horvat) as he could not find a trade suitor for Luongo and ownership was unwilling to buy him out.

Assuming that this widely rumoured package the Leafs had offered is true, let’s take a look at what waiting a year to solve the crease issue ultimately cost the Canucks…

The deal that actually happened:

Gave up Cory Schneider for the 9th overall pick (Horvat). Schneider is a 27 year old, former 1st round pick of the Canucks and was named the #1 goalie in the playoffs in 2012. He assumed that title until he was ultimately dealt to New Jersey, after the Canucks had invested numerous years grooming in the minors and back-up role to take over the#1 job.

In July of 2012, he re-signed for 3 years at a cap-friendly $4m per, after he had been named the #1 goalie. Schneider is widely regarded as one of the best young goaltenders around and holds a career 0.922 save % in his NHL career.

Bo Horvat is an 18 year old center who played for the London Knights and put up 33g-28a-61pts in 67 regular season games, then chipped in 16-7-23 in 21 playoff games in the OHL this year. He is widely considered a strong two-way player with the makings of a solid 2nd line center.

The (rumoured) deal that got away

Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Ben Scrivens for Roberto Luongo.

Bozak, 27, put up 12-16-28 in 46 games while mainly playing alongside Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk on the Leafs’ top line in 2013, but ideally would be a #2 center on a contending team.

Gillis & Luongo

Gillis kept a bitter Luongo, who is 33 years old with a cap hit of $5.33m per season. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick-Canucks)

In a year that saw us trade prospect Kevin Connauton and a 2nd rd pick for a rental player in Derek Roy to fill a hole at center, Bozak could’ve been a useful addition for the Canucks.

Kadri was selected by the Leafs’ 7th overall in the 2009 NHL draft and was considered a top NHL prospect. He made good of that label this year by putting up 18-26-44 in 48 games played in his first full season in the show and final year of his entry-level contract.

He appears to have all the makings to be a front line scoring center.

Scrivens, 26, is a serviceable NHL back-up, posting a 0.915 sv% this past season and carried a cap hit of $612,500 (according to CapGeek).

Ultimately, the Canucks gave up Schneider and his $4m per year for the next 2 seasons and kept a bitter Luongo, who is 33 years old with a cap hit of $5.33m per season until 2022 (at which point he will be in his early 40’s).

Should Lu retire after turning 35 the Canucks will be on the hook for that cap hit until the contract is up, not to mention there’s a chance he doesn’t report to camp.

Meanwhile, the solid 26 year old back-up Scrivens could’ve been for $612,500 to compliment Schneider and combined for a cap hit of $4.6125m.

Compare that combo to Lu’s hit + whoever his back-up is and their cap hit and it hurts a little bit more.

In addition, the #7 draft pick (Kadri) in 2009 who is a young, NHL-ready player with top end scoring ability that could contribute to a team now was ultimately forgone for the #9 pick this year. This years pick turned into an 18 year old with a bright 2-way future, but it isn’t certain when he will be ready to produce at the NHL level.

The Derek Roy trade could have been negated, allowing the Canucks to keep their 2nd round pick and Connauton and instead deploy a strong faceoff and two-way center in Bozak.

Now I know hindsight is 20-20, but one has to consider that when a deal is offered that includes 3 elements that your team is seeking for a player you are trying to move and a situation that needs to be cleared up, it would be in best interest to take it while its there.

Sometimes waiting and out-thinking yourself leads to more problems, rather than fixing a current one.

I definitely know that I would love to not here the phrase “the landscape has changed” anytime soon.


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  • Jumbo Johnson

    No offence to Kadri and Bozak but they are overpaid, soft, one dimensional players. To be honest I don’t think this offer was ever on the table anyways. As for Scrivens, he will be out of the league within the next few years, he is terrible. I would much rather have Horvat and a goalie who has gone to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and won a gold medal both in our own building. Tortorella will change the landscape and get the best out of our youngest players at both ends of the ice.

    • Alex McPhee

      I would agree with your thought on Bozak being overpaid, although I’m sure he could fetch atleast $4.5m in the open FA market should he have chosen that route since FA frenzy sees some massive $$ being thrown around (see: Clarkson, David). Bozak also lead the Leafs in D-zone faceoffs and was their best faceoff man while still putting up decent point totals and possession numbers, so I think there is a bit more value there as a non- #1 center.
      I really like Kadri as a good young player with huge offensive upside and a improving D-zone game- Dallas Eakins was the best thing that could’ve happened to him. That being said, I am excited to see the impact Horvat could have, he just isn’t proven yet and there’s always associated risk when trading proven NHL players for prospects/picks.
      I appreciate your feedback!

  • megger

    I always think of Gillis sitting around analagous to Hamlet. He definately messed the bed on the goalie issue, and my coworkers and I were calling for the Goalie trade after Lu was pulled for Schnieds in the playoffs. So his “crystal ball” excuse is really lame. I still really like Gillis. He’s made great contracts, pulled off a few great trades (Ehrhoff, and Booth), and finally got his drafting right.

    I’m calling Booth for a big year on the 2nd line with a healthy Kesler, and Burrows. time for him to earn his 4+M/year salary!

    • Alex McPhee

      I certainly hope you’re right and they would be a tough line to play against. With the amount of money they’re being paid, we’re going to need a big year from each of them if we want to have a deep run!

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