Mike Gillis's contention was that the Canucks needed NHL depth at forward.
The key word (or acronym) there is 'NHL.' The Canucks were trying to get by with fringe-NHLers on the fourth line.
Cody Hodgson and Victor Oreskovich, both demoted to the AHL's Manitoba Moose Monday, were showing signs, but Alain Vigneault clearly didn't trust them. So the Canucks GM heeded his coach's word and acquired Chris Higgins (Florida Panthers) and Maxim Lapierre (Anaheim Ducks).
Hodgson still has a bright future as a top-six forward, and Oreskovich could well come back and play a role later this season (or next) because he's one of the few big fore-checking wingers in the organization. But the Canucks needed better options come the playoffs, and they definitely needed someone to push struggling second-line winger Mason Raymond.
Higgins can do that once he regains health, and Lapierre can fill the fourth-line centre void and be a fore-checker, nuisance, pest, etc.
Prior to these moves, the big worry for the Canucks was that their inconsistent secondary scoring would go quiet in the playoffs, and that they could be reduced to a three-line team and worn out during the course of the postseason. Higgins and Lapierre are buffers against those concerns.