Vancouver Canucks Did Not Drop the Ball on Michael Grabner

Kevin WContributor IIFebruary 2, 2011

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 29:  Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders skates on his way to winning fastest skater during the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition part of 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at the RBC Center on January 29, 2011 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In the 2009-10 campaign, Alex Burrows set a career high in goals with 35, Mikael Samuelsson set a career high with 30 and Mason Raymond enjoyed a breakout year with 25 goals. These three were expected to provide the same amount of production this season, if not more.

Instead, the brunt of the scoring has fallen on the shoulders of Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin. So far, Burrows has 12 goals, Samuelsson has 10 and Raymond has nine. They’re on pace for 20, 17 and 16 goals respectively.

While they are having a dismal season, former Vancouver Canucks first-round pick Michael Grabner is having a fantastic season as a rookie with the New York Islanders and through only 46 games, he has more goals than what Burrows, Samuelsson and Raymond are on pace for.

Mike Gillis may have made his first bad move as general manager of the Canucks.

He did not.

You have to give up assets to make a trade and the relatively unproven Grabner was one we had to give up.

Keith Ballard was a player that drew interest from many teams in the league, including the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. The Canucks were engaged in a bidding war with other teams for a top defenceman in the league who possessed untapped potential and led the league in blocked shots in the preceding season.

The Blues were rumoured to have offered Patrik Berglund in a package for Ballard. The Canucks had to offer up Grabner to even have a part in discussion.

Something we must also realize is the Canucks sent $2 million in salary the other way in Steve Bernier. In the post-lockout NHL, salary cap space is far more important than player assets.

The trigger was pulled on the Ballard trade as a security blanket in case we did not sign defenceman Dan Hamhuis on Jul. 1, the uncertainty of Willie Mitchell's status and to protect themselves from the seasonal injury depletion on the blue line.

Not take anything away from the success Grabner has had and his team, but he is playing on the New York Islanders, a bottom-dwelling team has provided him with the circumstances to succeed.

He is playing in a pressure-free environment in all situations, and spot duty on the penalty kill and power play.

The Canucks are a team pushing for a Stanley Cup, any gaffes by a rookie will result in a benching from the coach. This does not give Grabner the freedom to play his game and take chances offensively, like any pure goal scorer should.

Late in the game or on the penalty kill? Don't even think about it. Grabner's inability to play defensively and back check is stapled in the minds of many. It takes a lot to shake off the reputation.

Mike Gillis protected the organization by trading Grabner for an asset because he knew Grabner was waiver eligible for the upcoming season.

In the two previous training camps Grabner participated in with the organization, he was a major disappointment. Both times he ended up being sent back to the juniors or to the minors early.

There was no guarantee 2010 would be any different.

Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson and Mason Raymond were staples in the top six last year and they were expected to match, if not better their goal scoring totals from the previous year.

The top six on the team was set, so there wasn't much of a chance for Grabner anyway.

Dave Tallon dropped the ball on this one, not Mike Gillis.