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'My fault' — Allvin takes responsibility for Mikheyev's struggles

“I'm not happy sitting here today. Definitely not satisfied,” said general manager Patrik Allvin at the Vancouver Canucks' end-of-year media availability.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin addressed the media on Thursday to wrap up the 2023-24 season.

The Vancouver Canucks had a fantastic season that blew everyone’s expectations out of the water. 

Predicted to be a team on the playoff bubble, the Canucks instead won the Pacific Division with just the third 50-win season in franchise history and pushed a Cup-favourite team to seven games in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For general manager Patrik Allvin, it wasn’t good enough.

"It's hard when you're sitting here and you lost."

“I'm not happy sitting here today. Definitely not satisfied,” said Allvin. “We lost our last game and it was only in round two.”

In other words, Allvin is aiming for a Stanley Cup in Vancouver; anything else is a disappointment.

Allvin was uncharacteristically forthcoming at the Canucks’ end-of-season media availability on Thursday and was blunt in his assessment of the season and of his own job performance. It was a refreshing change from the previous regime, which was quick to make excuses when things went wrong.

In Allvin’s case, so much went right, and he still wasn’t satisfied. 

So much went right, in fact, that Allvin is a finalist for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. So many of the gambles he made paid off, whether it was off-season free-agent signings or mid-season trades.

“It's hard when you're sitting here and you lost,” said Allvin about the honour. “Individual awards, I respect it and I'm happy that my peers voted, but I would rather have a team award.”

“It wasn’t his fault that he was put in a top-six position; it was my fault.”

There was one gamble that Allvin didn’t make, however, and it proved costly. The trade deadline came and went without Allvin making a move to bring in a top-six winger. That turned into a major issue in the playoffs, as the biggest thing the Canucks were missing was a partner for Elias Pettersson.

As a result, the Canucks were stuck with playing Ilya Mikheyev on Pettersson’s wing. Mikheyev scored just one goal in his final 50 games of the regular season and was held pointless in 11 playoff games, which played a role in Pettersson’s poor playoffs.  

When asked about Mikheyev’s struggles, Allvin was quick to point the finger at himself, with his most blunt quote of the press conference.

“It wasn’t his fault that he was put in a top-six position; it was my fault,” said Allvin. “I don’t think anybody was expecting Ilya Mikheyev to be a top-six player. He’s a good middle-six player.”

In other words, Allvin took responsibility for failing to find a way to upgrade the team’s top-six forward group and give Pettersson the winger he needed and also took some responsibility for Mikheyev’s struggles.

“I’ve never seen a guy working harder at his game to get better,” said Allvin of Mikheyev. “Obviously, it’s sad to somebody losing his confidence as he did. He created chances and played hard for us. I’m convinced that he’s going to come back and provide the value that he has and the intangibles that he brings with speed.

“But my job is to put players in a position where they belong for them to be successful.”

"It's a challenge to get the pieces in the puzzle."

Allvin’s explanation for not adding a top-six forward is that they had limited assets and cap space to work with and had to prioritize what they felt would lead to the most playoff success.

“We found strength in the middle was a priority with Elias Lindholm,” said Allvin. “Would I had access to more assets and money, I would definitely have added a top-six forward but we didn't have that opportunity and I think that's something we've got to look at here to see what part of our lineup we need to improve on.” 

Finding a partner for Pettersson has to be a priority for Allvin in the offseason but it won’t be easy. The Canucks have a plethora of free agents to re-sign and cap space limited by a jump in Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s buyout and Pettersson’s expensive new contract kicking in.

“The main challenge is to fit 23 players on the roster — that’s always the biggest challenge,” said Allvin. “Our job here is to build the roster, the lineup, and see what areas that we’re willing to put some younger players in or by allocating money…This is something we’ve got to talk about here over the next couple of weeks. It’s a challenge to get the pieces in the puzzle.”

"The fans gave us a win."

While Allvin was clearly disappointed that his team came up short of the ultimate goal, he wasn’t entirely negative. He was quick to say that he was blown away by the response from Canucks fans in the playoffs.

“I can't say enough about the fans and my experience being in Vancouver here,” said Allvin. “It was amazing what they did for us. The one game that stands out is when we're down 4-2 against Edmonton and the fans gave us a win, 5-4 with Garland's late goal, it was amazing. 

“Driving in game days and watching all the jerseys. I mean, guys talked about it — Ryan Johnson, my assistant GM, kept saying, like, 'Hey, wait, wait until a sunny day when the playoffs are in Vancouver, it's just amazing.'”

Now the goal is to bring those amazing fans the Stanley Cup.