The Manitoba Moose must be licking their chops at the thought of some very good prospects playing on their team this season.
With the Canucks having signed Joel Perrault, Jeff Tambellini, Jordan Schroeder, and Cody Hodgson, that foursome alone has the makings of a couple of fine lines.
Obviously this group will be given the opportunity to make the Canucks, but only Perrault really fits the mould of the bigger, tougher forward for the bottom six positions.
Moose GM Craig Heisinger has stated the need to fill several positions and one in particular that was taken by Michael Grabner on the left wing. Tambellini would be one that could fill that void and be a depth position player for the Canucks.
The signing of Manny Malhotra, who was asked about playing the wing instead of his normal centre position, allows Hodgson the opportunity to play centre at training camp and the preseason—but the jump from junior to the pros should not be expected.
There is no urgency this season for the Canucks to rush these first rounders (Hodgson and Schroeder) into the lineup, and the two would be best suited to learn their roles at the AHL level, where they will be given plenty of ice time and special team opportunities.
With the Canucks' top two lines pretty well set along with the special teams, what purpose does it serve for the young prospects to get the limited ice time they would be looking at?
Also, since these two are non-roster players, that means that their combined $2.6 million (approximately) hit against the salary cap would not have to be factored into the October 9 start date for the NHL season, when all teams must be below the $59.4 million cap.
This would open the door to add some NHL free agents with the experience, size, and affordability to build what Canucks management had in mind for the third and fourth lines after the playoffs ended.
They already have a cornerstone in Malhotra, so players like Arron Asham, Adam Mair, or Ruslan Fedotenko that have the experience and understand their roles could be added to form the third line or parts of the fourth.
Meanwhile, since it seems to be the norm in the NHL to go through injuries in all positions, these prospects and depth players are there for emergency situations.
So look for the Canucks to be patient and bring along Hodgson and Schroeder, as we know they will get their chance before the season is over.