VANCOUVER – According to Mike Gillis, Ryan Kesler may be slightly ahead of schedule with regards to his shoulder rehab (uh oh), Jordan Schroeder, Zack Kassian and Kevin Connauton should contend for regular duty (hmmmm) and Shea Weber followed the money (and term).
The Canucks president and general manager co-hosted the TEAM 1040 noon show with Matt Sekeres on Monday and after discussing the British Open and Whitecaps, Gillis addressed questions from Sekeres, callers, texters and tweeters.
What follows is an abridged account of Gillis had to say:
- On how serious the Canucks were in pursuing Shea Weber: “We had lots of discussions internally, we were in contact with his agent from July 1 onward.
“Our position was, how do we get this player on our team?
“I met with Shea and his agent at his home in Kelowna for about three hours and discussed all the different possibilities of how we could actually get him on our team.
“We felt any offer sheet that had term attached to it [as opposed to a one-year offer] would be matched by Nashville.
“We felt if we couldn’t get him on a one-year contract, we had very limited likelihood of getting him, virtually none.
“I do expect the Predators will match [the Flyers' offer sheet]. I think they need to protect their team, protect their marketplace in Nashville and this guy is the face of their franchise.”
- How talks went: “I got the sense he wanted to take advantage of the rules that currently apply, and he’s entitled to do that.
“What happens a lot of times is people presume that players born in British Columbia automatically want to play for the Vancouver Canucks.
“I’ve been on the other side of this for a long, long time and often players will have multiple issues they’re considering when thinking about where to play.
“Where they’re from is one of them, but it isn’t the one that necessarily carries the day. In this case, financial security, long-term, understanding fully that Nashville could match, those were important elements.
“That can’t be underestimated. Players have limited opportunities to get to the marketplace and that’s the situation Shea Weber found himself in. He’s entitled to make his decision based on any number of criteria he has.
“I’ll say this: I really like the guy, I think he’s a terrific player. I think at the end of the day, marketplace [ie, media scrutiny] really didn’t matter.”
- On whether landing a right-shooting defenceman is a top priority in the wake of Sami Salo’s departure: “Wrong again. We think with Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa, and Jason Garrison has played the right side particularly on the power play, we’re comfortable with those guys.
“We think they’re all high-end players, I like our defence the way it is.
“But, in the event something occurs, if there’s an opportunity, we’ll certainly look at it.”
At even strength, Gillis said, Garrison may or may not play the right side, Keith Ballard being the other candidate.
“Losing Sami was a blow, we tried to bring him back, but it didn’t work out.
“We’ve got a couple of young players we really like – Kevin Connauton and we think this young guy, Frankie Corrado, who unfortunately has a year of junior left, he went to Chicago last year and Craig MacTavish loved him. He’s a very good young player, a right-hand shot, skates well with good size.
“He played very well on his junior team, which wasn’t a very strong team, and when he got to Chicago he got right into the lineup and played a regular shift.
“He’ll have an opportunity.”
- On why the Canucks gave up so fast on Marc-Andre Gragnani: “It wasn’t so much that we gave up on him, he just didn’t seem a fit for us.
“When we acquired him we were looking for a specific skill set that we thought he possessed, we thought he could help us with. At the end of the day we thought Kevin Connauton’s development in Chicago rivalled that of Marc-Andre.
“He’s a guy we drafted and who we have very high hopes for, he’s a bigger player, he skates extremely well, he’s got great offence. We felt, at the end of the day, we’d be better off giving him an opportunity.”
VANCOUVER – The biggest news Mike Gillis revealed during a special guest co-host appearance with Matt Sekeres on the TEAM 1040 on Monday was that he hopes Ryan Kesler will start the season.
Kesler had offseason shoulder surgery and wasn’t expected back until November, but Gillis said the centre is on or “slightly ahead” of schedule in his rehab.
Kesler returned earlier than expected last season from hip surgery and was plagued by nagging stiffness and tenderness until Christmas.
“Ryan is doing very well, but we’re not going to push him,” Gillis said.
Here are some more of Gillis’s thoughts about his forward group:
- On acquiring another centre: “I’m not sure. We have a lot of balls in the air and I can’t tell you what will happen with those balls, but we think Jordan Schroeder should have an opportunity to play games to start the season if he comes ready to play like he did at the end of last year.
“His game’s evolving, he’s far more competitive today than he was and I really think he’s got an opportunity.
“There are other things we’ve toyed with, other position players we think could play centre ice in that [No. 2 slot], as well as on our third line.”
- On Manny Malhotra’s potential to get back to the level he played at before his serious eye injury down the stretch in 2010-11, or whether he will always be hampered by it: “I’m not sure, I don’t think there’s a correct answer to that at this point.
“First of all, Manny had a horrific injury that required several surgeries. If it wasn’t for his diligence and how hard he works and what a great person he is, someone else probably would have given up and just looked out for their own health.
“For him to come back and do what he’s done is miraculous.
“With eye injuries, the more I’ve learned about them, there’s a difference between vision and sight. Vision is how your brain reacts to the images you’re seeing and that can take some time to get back to whatever level it’s going to get back to.
“We’re just very hopeful he continues to improve.”
- On the Rick Nash trade: “We were involved [in talks with the Blue Jackets leading up to the trade deadline], but what Columbus wanted to get from us would have destroyed our team.”
Yet the Rangers gave up Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick next June, not exactly franchise destruction.
“We weren’t in it very long, but we were in there trying to see if there could be some synergy, perhaps a three-way deal, some other things.
“But with Daniel Sedin, we have a first all-star left winger, so you’ve got to have a fit as well. A very wise old guy told me one time, one flower doesn’t make a bouquet.”
The asking price for Nash, Gillis said, went down since the trade deadline last season.
- On Zack Kassian: “We have been incredibly impressed with how he’s handled coming to Vancouver, how hard he’s worked this summer. We’ve had him in all sorts of places doing all sorts of different things.
“If he continues the way he’s going, the effort he’s putting in with his ability and size, I could see him starting in our top six.
VANCOUVER – Canucks president and GM Mike Gillis continued to toe the line when it comes to discussing trading Roberto Luongo, insisting again while appearing as a guest co-host with Matt Sekeres on the TEAM 1040 on Monday that because Luongo and Cory Schneider are such great guys, neither would cause an internal disruption if camp began with Luongo still a Canuck.
Gillis also insisted the current uncertainty over the CBA is not a factor in any trade discussions involving Luongo and his long-term contract.
“A player like this is very difficult to get,” Gillis said. “The current rules are applicable and we saw last week [with the Flyers offer sheet to Shea Weber] how those rules are applied.”
Gillis also shot down rumours AHL prospect Eddie Lack, who had not accepted the Canucks’ qualifying offer as of Monday afternoon, wants to return to Sweden.
Gillis said the Canucks have told Lack and his agent that the Swedish netminder is on the same career trajectory as Cory Schneider followed and that they want to groom him to be an NHL goalie.
Other topics covered by Gillis, who answered questions from Sekeres, callers, texters and tweeters:
- On the state of hockey: “I think the product on the ice is as strong as it’s ever been, so that’s not broken. But there are fundamental financial principles that need addressing.
“That’s as much as I’m going to say about it. We’re subject to fines and other sanctions if we talk about the CBA.”
- On the Canucks draft record and player development since he arrived four years ago, Gillis preached patience.
“We were very fortunate to get Nick Jensen [two years ago] , very fortunate to get Brendan Gaunce [this year] where we got them [late first rounds]. That requires some teams going kind of off the board.
“When you break down the draft there’s a real demarcation, and it doesn’t matter what year it is, what you get beyond about the eighth pick the numbers just go exponentially down that the player will play 300 NHL games.”
Jordan Schroeder was also a late first-rounder, three years ago, who Gillis remains bullish on.
“Making general statements about drafting is difficult because it’s an inexact science at best when you’re selecting 18-year-olds.
“Having said that, where we are today from where we were four years ago, things are significantly different. I would suggest we have three to four times more legitimate prospects in our system and it takes time for those players to develop.
“And we’re fortunate enough to have a good team at the NHL level so we don’t have to force feed young players into the lineup. I urge you to be a little bit patient and watch.”