Three years ago, the Canucks were one win away from their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Today, that seems like a distant memory.
Vancouver is in the midst of a “re-tool” according to GM Mike Gillis, a statement confirmed with Tuesday’s stunning trade of goalie Roberto Luongo to Florida — one that came just nine moths after firing head coach Alain Vigneault, and eight after dealing Cory Schneider to New Jersey.
If the re-tool wasn’t on before today, it sure is now.
Gillis: We just felt strongly that we needed the courage to re-tool this team and get younger and free up space to bring a new complexion
— TEAM Radio (@TEAM1040) March 5, 2014
Gillis later acknowledged the magnitude of today’s deal, and what it represented.
“It takes a lot of courage to trade a player like Roberto Luongo,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call that we’re not performing where we should be.”
It appears as though more dominoes will fall. Ryan Kesler is one of the hottest commodities heading into tomorrow’s trade deadline and likely to be moved, as the Canucks are primed to capitalize on his highest market value. Alex Edler’s popped up in trade conversations for the second straight year, and Kevin Bieksa’s name has been bandied about too.
New faces are on the way in. Jacob Markstrom, 24, will join new No. 1 Eddie Lack (who’s 26) in an all-Swedish goalie tandem. Fellow 26-year-old Shawn Matthias, who Gillis called a “critical part” of the Luongo deal, will give Vancouver a new look up front.
“I’m so excited,” Matthias said. “I told my agent a while ago I’d love to go to a Canadian city. I’ve heard rumors of Vancouver for a while, I’m glad it happened.
“I’ve been smiling ear-to-ear since I got the news. I think my game is going to elevate playing in front of fans like that.”
Eventually, former first-round picks Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat will get their opportunities as well. But it’s worth noting this is being labeled a “re-tool,” not a rebuild. This isn’t about Vancouver waiting for the kids to mature — it’s about fixing things on the fly, mixing youth with experience, which is a necessity given how many veterans Gillis is locked into (and the fact nine of ’em have some form of a no-trade clause.)
Gillis acknowledged as much in his Tuesday conference call, explaining his goals for future trades.
“I don’t know if we’re done yet,” he explained. “If we do something else, it will be in the same vain of trying to get younger and trying to get more depth and more balance.”
Like we said: Welcome to the re-tool, Vancouver.