Mike Gillis is Still Haunting the Canucks

The ghost of Mike Gillis reared its ugly head again over the weekend. On Saturday night the Columbus Blue Jackets romped the Boston Bruins 6-2, their first win against the B’s since 2010. The first star of that game was former Canucks prospect defenceman Kevin Connauton.

Connauton had a goal and two assists in the victory. He now has seven points in 14 games for Columbus since being picked up off of waivers from the Dallas Stars earlier in the season.

He has made a solid impression in Columbus ever since his debut. His first goal for the Blue Jackets was an overtime winner against the Philadelphia Flyers. With his goal against the Bruins on Saturday night, he now has two game-winning goals for Columbus since his arrival.

The Canucks drafted Connauton in the third round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, the second draft under the tenure of  former General Manager Mike Gillis. He would develop in their system for four seasons, until Gillis shipped Connauton away during the 2013 trade deadline.

Connauton was traded along with a second-round draft pick (Philippe Desrosiers) to the Dallas Stars for Derek Roy. The move was supposed to bolster the Canucks offence in order for them to make a post-season push.

On the surface the deal seemed like a steal for the Canucks. They traded away a draft pick and a player who had not seen any NHL action for a forward who had previously registered four straight seasons of 60+ points.

How did the deal work out for the Canucks? Roy scored six points in 12 regular season games for the Canucks. He then recorded a mere one assist in four playoff games for the Canucks as they were swept by the San Jose Sharks in the first round.

Roy’s career has gone downhill ever since. He played for the St. Louis Blues last year, before signing a one-year, $1 million contract with the Nashville Predators this season. He has scored once in 26 games for the Preds this season, and his short stint for Nashville has come to an end. After clearing waivers and being sent down to the AHL, he was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for Marc Arcobello.

While Roy’s future remains unclear, Connanton is quietly establishing himself as a bona-fide NHL defenceman. He finally has a regular spot in an NHL line-up since joining Columbus in November.

In eight games with the Dallas Stars this season, he was averaging under 12 minutes of ice time. However since joining the Blue Jackets, he is averaging over 16 minutes per game.

Kevin Connauton as a member of the Dallas Stars. He has flourished ever since Columbus picked up off of waivers from the Stars. Credit: Michael Connell/Texas Stars Hockey
Kevin Connauton has flourished for the Columbus Blue Jackers ever since they picked him up off of waivers from the Dallas Stars. Credit: Michael Connell/Texas Stars Hockey

 

General Manager Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars also deserves some criticism for giving up on the defenceman too soon, especially since Dallas has given up the second-most goals in the league. Only the Oilers have allowed more goals this season.

Connauton has only played 58 games at the NHL level thus far, and may continue to taunt the two teams who undervalued him far too soon.