If you watched yesterday’s 2024 NHL All-Star draft, you would have noticed the absence of the reigning Stanley Cup champions and the abundance of players from a team scheming to crush the Golden Knights’ dreams of repeating. And no, it wasn’t Edmonton Oilers.
Feeling good about this lineup. 🤩
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 2, 2024
While the Toronto Maple Leafs are hosting the ASG, the team with the most representatives resides in Western Canada. The Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks were awarded five All-Star selections and traded for a sixth on Monday. Add in coach Rick Tocchet, and 26.9% of the West’s attendees are made up of Canucks. So, it’s understandable why Vancouver aggressively made a trade with the Calgary Flames for center Elias Lindholm. Like Vegas, Vancouver now boasts one of the stronger center units in all of hockey.
We all know the matchups going down the stretch here, the last 33 games. That’s where you need your four lines to be strong… in the two-way game. That’s where we felt that adding a piece like Elias here for the cost of what we paid, for now but potentially for the future as well, it was something that we felt strong about. –Patrik Allvin, Canucks GM in press conference
Clearly, the Golden Knights are in a win-now mode. They’re reigning champions, of course, they want to raise the Stanley Cup again. Vegas has company though. The Canucks made noise on Wednesday night trading for the 29-year-old Lindholm. It was an announcement to the Western Conference that they are in an expedited win-now mode. Forgot the years of playoff disappointments and growth, the Canucks front office proclaimed, ‘screw it, let’s win it now.’
Vegas trails Vancouver by seven points in the Pacific Division with three matchups remaining this season. There’s a strong chance those battles could decide which team captures the division.
The players and the coaches have worked hard to get to where they are, and we felt giving them a better chance to win was the right thing to do. And Lindholm was one of the top players that was going to be available in the trade market and we went out and got him. We’re not the same team that people were talking about (before the season) struggling to get into a wildcard spot. We’ve improved our team dramatically with some of the changes.- Jim Rutherford, Canucks President in press conference
Going into the second half of the season the Golden Knights are focused on their roster and their schedule. As Vegas’ lineup continues to heal, other Pacific teams are circling the waters. Edmonton is one win away from making history, Vancouver is attempting to pull away with the division, oh and they’re both partying up in Hogtown. Meanwhile, Vegas is refreshing and resting all week in preparation for a competitive second half of the season.
But let’s give them credit, making a move for a former 42-goal scorer, might have been Vancouver’s first official flex to the Pacific Division.