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Canucks Watch: Swing and a miss on deadline day

The Vancouver Canucks can take solace in the fact they were the supposed silver medalist in the Brad Richards Sweepstakes at yesterday’s NHL trade deadline.

And the prize for their efforts? A lump of coal in the form of Matt Pettinger, who is bigger, slower and cheaper than the player he replaced in Matt Cooke.

The Canucks swung and missed in their pursuit of Peter Forsberg and lost out on Richards, so the trade deadline activities should be viewed as nothing short of a failure for the Canucks and GM David Nonis.

In fact, it could be argued the Canucks enter their game tonight against the Colorado Avalanche a lesser team than they were before yesterday’s deadline. Even though Pettinger had 16 goals last season and 20 the season before, he has taken an enormous step back in his offensive game this year and certainly doesn’t bring the physical attributes Cooke does to the game.

But with the emergence of Alex Burrows, the Canucks already had a good amount of the pest element in their lineup.

For a team that already has enough trouble scoring goals, the Canucks certainly didn’t take a step forward. They are getting healthy and will benefit from the additions of Aaron Miller on defense and Brendan Morrison up front when they return to the lineup, but does anyone out there truly think the Canucks have enough secondary scoring beyond the Sedin twins and Markus Naslund to make a serious run in the playoffs?

To try and get Richards, the Canucks reportedly offered the Tampa Bay Lightning Ryan Kesler, Luc Bourdon and Cory Schneider, but were unwilling to part with young defenseman Alex Edler. If that’s the case, the Lightning definitely got a better deal from the Dallas Stars, who gave up two roster skaters and a goaltender who could be key to their future plans.

The upside of the Pettinger-for-Cooke deal is the Canucks were able to extract something for a player who was undoubtedly headed for unrestricted free agency this summer. Cooke and coach Alain Vigneault never seemed to be on the same page, which is exactly the situation Pettinger found himself in with the Capitals and their new head coach Bruce Boudreau.

If Pettinger can once again find his scoring touch, the Canucks will have made a great deal, particularly since Pettinger is under contract next season for just $1 million before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2008-09 season.

But it’s doubtful Pettinger will come in and have much of an impact this season so, once again, it will be up to Roberto Luongo and the defense corps to deliver the goods in the post-season.

This column also appears in the Vancouver Metro Newspaper.

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

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