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Mike Gillis Deserves Praise As Offseason Moves Sparkle

Mike Gillis

It’s been a couple of weeks since Vancouver Canuck’s fans voiced their opinion towards their GM, Mike Gillis, on Bure night, as he listened to passionate boos aimed at him from a sellout crowd in Rogers Arena. Whether the frustration from fans was a result from Schneider being traded, no youth movement and/or lack of big moves to improve the present team, there are 3 very clear reasons why Gillis deserves at least a bit of credit on what he’s accomplished this off season. Those 3 reasons are Santorelli, Stanton and Richardson.

While we are approaching the ¼th mark of the regular season, the trio has probably been the most surprising story for the Vancouver Canucks. Santorelli, who has 12 points, 5 goals and 7 assists, in 20 games, is playing second line minutes while most Canuck fans and media thought he would be joining the Comets in Utica. He’s tied for GWG (2), both of which being OT goals, first on the team for faceoffs % (56.7%), and most importantly, he’s averaging around 19:21 minutes per a game. That is around 6 minutes more than what he was averaging with the Winnipeg Jets last season for 10 games (13:43) and close to 8 minutes more than the average 11:05 minutes he got with the Florida Panthers for 20 games of the 2012-2013 season. That’s not to be mistaken as a stab at the Canucks lack of centre depth as Santorelli has deserved every minute he has been receiving. The comparisons between Burrows and Santorelli have been brought up quite a lot in the young season, but another player you can compare Santorelli to is Higgins, in regards to potential. Both Higgins and Santorelli gained a lot of hype from their solid college and AHL careers and were emphasized to have top 6 potential but didn’t show it consistently with previous NHL clubs. Fortunately for the Canucks, they have been quite successful with these late bloomers. Santorelli, who averages around 26 shifts per game, is the type of player who looks like he just drank 5 energy drinks right before every shift, the 27 year old doesn’t give up on the puck as he isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas, control the puck, and set up grade A chances. We may actually have a set of hardworking triplets in Burrows, Santorelli and Higgins… if only they looked the same.

Stanton, who came off a very solid AHL season (25pts, +16), was a pickup late in the off season from waivers. He was also expected to start with the Utica Comets. And while most Canucks fans and media on Twitter didn’t even know who this guy was, there were a few Blackhawk fans who showed dissatisfaction after losing him and now we know why. Stanton has 7 points in 20 games and averages 13:54 minutes per a game. The addition of Stanton has allowed us to have 3 very strong pairings both offensively and defensively. While many will also make the comparison of Stanton to Tanev, you can also throw Corrado in there as mixture of both while Stanton plays a very physical and smart game. He is that calm presence in the defensive zone in which ability is also shared by both Tanev and Corrado, all three allow their d-men partner to feel more comfortable on both ends of the ice. It’s still unknown why he was on waivers for the Hawks, a evident observation would be because he wasn’t going to crack the top 6 anytime soon….though, if that was the case it would be equally or even harder to crack the Canucks top 6 but surely the Hawks might be regretting that decision now.

Richardson, known for his solid defensive style, has shocked Canucks fans and media as his offense just came out of no where. 10 points in 20 games, 5 of which are goals. He’s leading the team in shooting % (27.8%), shorthanded goals (4), third on the team in face offs % (53.6%), second on team for plus/minus stats (+5) and he’s making a very strong case for being our best penalty killer. Richardson has always been reliable defensively, but knowing he can offensively produce may give us the future fourth line that can pitch in on the scoring sheet every now and then, something Canucks fans have been waiting for a long time. He seems to be an upgrade of Maxim Lapierre.

The trio has given the Vancouver Canucks more depth in every area, how long they can keep it up is still an unanswered question but so far the three haven’t shown any signs of slowing down and these players bring the necessary pieces teams all around the league need to have for a successful regular season and stronger postseason. Mike Gillis, who is on very thin ice with Canuck fans, needs a bit more credit in this department as he eluded a cap problem by signing 3 depth players that weren’t sparkling players in free agency but are showing signs now and could very well be heading in the direction of a raise come their next contract.

Written by: Aisha D

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