For the past several seasons, fans, owners, organization and players have been frustrated at the Vancouver Canuck's inability to make it beyond the Western Conference Finals for the Stanley cup.
Last year, in a stunning and somewhat ill advised move, the team’s then-General Manager Mike Gillis traded number one goalie, Cory Schneider, during the 2013 Draft for practically nothing.
All the while, Gillis was still trying to unload Roberto Luongo's expensive and lengthy contract. At the end of the current season, he had both number one goalies gone (New Jersey and Flordia) and untested Eddie Läck was suddenly between the pipes.
Apparently, that was only a sign of things yet to come.
"Ryan felt like he needed a fresh start and we don't want someone who doesn't want to be here" - Benning #Canucks— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) June 27, 2014
There were rumors of trouble with Ryan Kesler; that Gillis was looking to trade the unhappy player around. Nothing happened, but today is NHL Draft Day. It's one of the few days where big things always pop up. (Please see Schneider.)
What does the day mean?
It means Ryan Kesler will be an Anaheim Duck in the next season. And what did Anaheim give up for the former Canuck? Center Nick Bonino, defensemen Luca Sbisa, and a 24th overall pick in the draft later tonight.
6'1", 196 LBS. Centre. Meet Nick Bonino. pic.twitter.com/UEDryjdB1p— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) June 27, 2014
For the past year, Vancouver has been looking to go younger, to bring up a team from the beginning and build a formidable stable of players.
The plan worked for the Los Angeles Kings, who won two Stanley Cups in the past three years with a mix of homegrown talent, smart trades, and signing strong unrestricted/restricted players.
"I wouldn't say it's a rebuild. We acquired players that are going to have an impact on us winning this year" - Benning #Canucks— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) June 27, 2014
Läck is a young goalie, but has been in the organization for years and stepped up admirably when Luongo was gone at this spring’s trade deadline. So it makes sense to quirk a winning plan.
Kesler’s no-trade clause allowed a lot of leeway in where he’d end up. According to ESPN’s Katie Strang in “Ryan Kesler headed to Ducks,” the Livoni, Mich., player quickly nixed any idea of the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Interestingly, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault led the Canucks for the seven years between the 2006-2007 and 2012-2013 seasons. And the coach did bring the captain-less New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals as the Eastern Conference champions earlier this month before falling to the Kings.
Now, want to say how excited I am to start fresh in Vancouver, for a great team in a great city. Very much looking forward to it. Can't wait— Nick Bonino (@NickBonino) June 27, 2014
With Kesler going to Anaheim, the Freeway Face-Off rivalry against the Kings will pick up. Anaheim snagged a veteran player who’s happy to be out of hockey-intense Vancouver while providing a “with a dangerous 1-2 punch on their top two lines” with Ryan Gretzlaf.
Vancouver also traded Jason Garrison, rights for Jeff Costello and a 2015 seventh round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for this year’s 50th overall pick.
Hello, fire sale!
And acquired right-winger Derek Dorsett from New York for 85th round pick.
The low NHL salary cap combined with owners wanting strong, veteran players means a lot of chess pieces will keep moving.