Since the Aquilini Group secured full ownership of the Vancouver Canucks, their various decisions have been questioned—including the naming of former NHL player agent, Mike Gillis, as the club's new general manager replacing Dave Nonis.
Gillis comes to the organization with a huge upside in player negotiations and the financial side of the hockey club. His former client list includes such talents as Ottawa Senators star forward Jason Spezza, and unrestricted free agents Pavel Demitra of the Minnesota Wild and current Canucks' captain Markus Naslund.
With the huge financial upside Gillis brings, comes a negative reputation within some of the league's general managers including Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe. Lowe has said in the media that he will refuse to deal with Gillis regarding any sort of trade negotiations between the Canucks and Oilers. Lowe is only one of a number of current and former NHL GMs who have discussed, off the record, about previous negative experiences with Gillis.
Gillis has already made waves in the press as of late with the comments that the only player that is protected from being traded is Roberto Luongo.
When asked about the Canucks franchise players Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Gillis stated, "They are front-line players, but I don't know if they're players that the team will be built around going forward. That doesn't mean that the twins are gone, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility."
With the uncertainty of the Sedins, current captain Markus Naslund, and the rest of the free agents, the Vancouver Canucks will surely have a new look when the team takes the ice in September for training camp.
Is Gillis the right man for the job?
Only time will tell, although he has already shared his outlook for the club's upcoming season.
"I think this team needs to get faster, I think it needs more grit, and I think it needs to be more competitive," Gillis told the Vancouver Sun. "If these get addressed well, this team won't be far off. A couple of very good decisions, or a couple of really bold decisions, might put this team in a position to win almost immediately."
Gillis' first test comes in June when he takes part in his first NHL Entry Draft as a general manager.
If he can mend some fences and make the bold deals, the Canucks are sure to become contenders in the NHL Western Conference.
Let the rumor mill begin!
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