Gillis reveals teams “showcase” players for trades

Over the last few years, I have witnessed several bloggy debates about whether teams really showcase players in an attempt to spark a trade. When a player’s ice time suddenly increases, there’s usually someone out there who will shout “showcase!”, and this is sometimes met with snarky dismissiveness by team representatives and/or journalists. If you think players get showcased, here’s your tin-foil hat. 

However, Canucks GM Mike Gillis has let the cat out of the bag. Maybe this cat has been let out before, but if so I’m not aware of it. At least not of a GM openly saying, yeah we did that. 

Vancouver Sun Sports Blogs: the Canucks gave Cody Hodgson two makeovers this year

You may recall Hodgson’s monster January, a streak during which he put up 6 goals and 4 assists, picked up an “NHL Rookie of the Month” Award, briefly waded into the Calder trophy discussion, and won the hearts of nearly the entire Vancouver fanbase in the process. It was his coming-out party, the month Canuck nation decided that, not only was this Hodgson kid was going to work out after all, but he was going to be an absolute stud.

You may also recall that Thomas Drance took a very close look at Hodgson’s numbers and determined that they were inflated based on some curious changes to his usage. Quietly, his icetime spiked by 2 minutes and his offensive zone start percentage went from 33% in December to 83% in January — a higher rate than even the Sedins, the league leaders in offensive zone deployment.

As it turns out, this deployment wasn’t just done to capitalize on Hodgson’s offensive abilities and get him away from his defensive weaknesses. It [was] done to make him look attractive to potential buyers, the hockey equivalent of staging a home. [Mike] Gillis […]:

“We built him into something we could move. We put Cody on the ice in every offensive situation we could, I don’t think he took more than 5 or 6 defensive zone faceoffs. That was by design. I don’t regret that move and I’d do it again.”

Sure enough, Hodgson’s value skyrocketed, to the point where the Canucks were able to get one of the 6 players they had determined some time ago they would swap for Hodgson […][:] Zack Kassian.

We know the Canucks use advanced statistics, but this adds a very intriguing dimension to how they use them and what they use them for. From Canucks Army:

“[…] Not only do the Canucks use advanced stats when thinking about what personnel to add, but they consider how they can use their ‘edge’ in understanding, to inflate player value on the trade market.”

You mean the other 29 teams don’t know that if you give a player more offensive zone starts, they will score more and get scored on less? Then Gillis should be fired for telling everyone.


  2 comments for “Gillis reveals teams “showcase” players for trades

  1. JamesFlagg
    April 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Also goes without saying that giving a guy more opportunities will likely increase his chances of success (see Purcell, T., Moulsen, M. etc.)…….

    Although it’s clear that it’s not a trade showcase, I also notice that Philly seems to go out of their way to give their young players ice time with the likes of Giroux, Briere etc. – and I believe anyone playing with Giroux will get lots of
    sweet passes and open nets that will convince them that yeah, I can score in this league…..


  2. Niesy
    April 26, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    I can’t believe how candid he was–I love it.

    Elliotte Friedman’s source said Cliffy was one of their targets. But all the others were from the Eastern Conference. That just seems far more likely. Unless they thought the Kings would be desperate for offense (more centers?)…

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