The desperation being felt by Canucks GM Mike Gillis must surely be mounting. Yes, his Canucks won their second straight President's Trophy but a window to winning the Stanley Cup is closing and he needs the Roberto Luongo trade to keep it open.
Gillis is trying to appear calm and be patient but the need for a home run when it comes to this deal is obvious. In 2010-11 Vancouver lead the NHL in scoring but this last season a late tailspin scoring-wise that lasted into their brief playoff suggests their scoring woes need addressing and, other than someone in the system stepping up, his primary hope is the Luongo deal.
Gillis needs more than a prospect and pick, he needs someone who can score now. The Sedins turn 32 during camp and despite their compete level and durability - needed given the abuse they take, often uncalled by refs - they are slowing down. After taking turns winning the NHL scoring title with 112 points (Henrik in 2009-10) and 104 (Daniel in 2010-11) last season they had 81 and 67 points respectively. They need help and if Gillis doesn't find a top six forward the franchise is in danger of becoming like the San Jose Sharks, great teams for years, no Stanley Cup.
Vancouver Canucks: Scoring Defence
The Canucks still have a lot, quality goaltending in Cory Schneider - or Luongo should something strange happen and he be the last Canuck goalie standing - and a mobile and tough defence that boasts Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison as the top four. Last season Bieksa has 44 points and Hamhuis 37, while Edler had 11 goals and 49 points and in Florida Garrison had 16 goals, third among defenceman in the NHL.
But beyond Henrik and Daniel and Alex Burrows, given Ryan Kesler has dropped out of sight and will be missing until he recovers from surgery, they are lacking up front, with the rest of their forward group failing to achieve decent numbers. In 2011-12 David Booth, Mason Raymond and Chris Higgins managed 44 goals in 182 games between them. Add Jannik Hansen, Maxim Lapierre and Manny Malhotra's to those three and from that total of six forwards, regulars all, the Canucks got 76 goals, on average 12 goals a season from each.
Gillis Seeks Scoring up front
There will be no help via free agency. Vancouver did pitch for Jokinen to help at center, but given that the erratic veteran got 2 years at $4.5 million per from the Jets, sanity is more prevalent in Vancouver than Winnipeg. Center Jason Arnot is out there still but the 37-year-old's output has dropped faster than a Georges St. Pierre opponent. There's Alexander Semin, but the Canucks seem to have abandoned Russians around the time Pavel Bure abandoned them; besides, Semin is inconsistent, disappears in the postseason and will fetch far more than worth.
There are names on the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs, the two teams in the hunt for Luongo, that could help. One of either Steven Weiss, Thomas Fleischmann or Kris Versteeg from the Panthers might work, but would Florida give up a top 3 offensive player for Luongo? The Maple Leafs aren't going to give up Phil Kessel or Joffrey Lupul or likely Mikhail Grabovski, but they might part with Tyler Bozak, though he would hardly be considered a homer.
Teams know Gillis has to make this trade and that isn't helping to hit that home run. And the fact that both Florida, with Jacob Markstrom, and the Leafs, with James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, were not seeking a goalie for up to a decade, makes it all the more difficult. So a Tyler Bozak, or the Panther's Tomas Kopecky, with a young player, Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne from Toronto, or Nick Bjugstad from Florida, could be as close to the fence as Gillis is going to get.
Doubtless the Canucks GM is prolonging all of this in the hope he might get more, and doubtless the prospect of getting less has him concerned. Because without getting more scoring his team is likely to keep channeling all of those past teams from San Jose and their window on the Stanley Cup will slam shut.