According to hockey insiders, Gillis attempted, but failed at the eleventh hour, to trade Luongo for a capable backup and a selection of draft picks. This was a lesser demand than the impact player the Canucks were initially looking for.
With that in mind, keeping Luongo was the best option for the Canucks.
While the best case scenario would have been trading Luongo (or potentially Cory Schneider) for a player that would immediately help the team, if the offers available were strictly for draft picks, then Gillis made the best decision possible.
Draft picks alone were not going to help the Canucks this spring down the stretch and into the playoffs. While the Canucks could definitely use some help to improve their prospect pool for the future, draft picks would have absolutely zero impact on the playoffs this spring.
With 12 games in the next 23 days to close out the season, the backup is going to be getting four or five starts. With every point being important for playoff positioning, trusting those games to a goalie called up from the AHL wasn’t a good option.
Keeping Luongo allows the Canucks to have a better chance to win those games when Schneider is getting the night off and also gives them an insurance policy in the playoffs. Lest we forget, Schneider has only started four NHL playoff games in his career.
Luongo can presumably still be traded for draft picks and prospects during the summer or at the draft itself, and this way the Canucks get to retain his services down the stretch, rather than calling up a goalie from the AHL to backup Schneider.
Mike Gillis gambled that he could get a better deal by waiting to the trade deadline, but the desperate teams he was hoping for didn’t translate into the blockbuster deal he was hoping for.
Rather than taking a subpar deal just to make a deal, he made the right decision for this year’s playoffs to keep both his star goalies.