VANCOUVER--What has been the difference in the newest version of the Vancouver Canucks compared to the same time last year?
Let us take a quick look at who's in and who's out in the bottom-six roles:
Manny Malhotra, Mark Parrish and Dave Scratchard were invited on professional tryouts with the hockey club. Malhotra quickly left UBC and caught on with the Sharks training camp and signed a contract with the club soon after. Neither Parrish or Scratchard managed to hang on with the Canucks.
Kyle Wellwood was signed to a 1-year deal worth 1.2mil. Steve Bernier was on his second year of a 3-year deal worth a total of $7.5 million. Darcy Hordichuk, Rick Rypien, Ryan Johnson remained as fourth line incumbents.
In camp, Jannik Hansen, 23, stood out and became a Canucks top call-up, reserve option as season stood on.
Mason Raymond and Tanner Glass were two other players trying to prove themselves that they belong on the team. Raymond had to prove he can utilize his speed to create havoc and put in some points, while Tanner Glass had to continue to impress the coaches he can play in-your-face and not afraid to finish his checks every shift.
Tanner Glass - Kyle Wellwood - Steve Bernier
Darcy Hordichuk - Ryan Johnson - Rick Rypien
Let's turn the page and look at the projected line-up for 2010-2011 season.
Mike Gillis went out to sign a quartet of free agents: D Dan Hamhuis, C Manny Malhotra, LW Jeff Tambellini, C Joel Perrault.
Of the four, Malhotra was signed to a $7.5mil/3-year deal, which just about guaranteed his spot on the 3rd and checking line.
Jeff Tambellini and Joel Perrault are not guaranteed a spot, and will be given an opportunity to make the team come training camp and pre-season to let Alain Vigneault's job difficult. Tambellini signed on to a league minimum 2-way deal, and Perrault also signed a 1-year deal close to the league minimum ($510 000).
At the entry draft in June, Victor Oreskovich was the only other player that was acquired from Florida along with Keith Ballard in exchange for young forward Michael Grabner, Mike Gillis bust Steve Bernier, and 1st round pick in 2010--Quinton Howdon.
Oreskovich's scouting report suggests that he skates very fast, and likes to play a physical game. He is on record of saying he will drop his gloves if his team needs him, but will not take stupid penalties to hurt his teammates.
Free agent prospect, Billy Sweatt, who was sent from Chicago to Toronto with Kris Versteeg decided to walk away from Brian Burke's pressure tactics to sign elsewhere on Aug.15. He ended up joining the Canucks on Aug.19 to be in the same organization as his older brother Lee Sweatt. Sweatt is a speedster who can wheel. He will be a future 2-way player dependable in his own zone, but may require grooming in the AHL to start the year. He is coming out of Colorado College of NCAA as a 21-year-old.
Canucks signed 28-year-old forward, Raffi Torres, to a 1-year deal worth $1 million. Torres was a former-Oiler and will be familiar with how the Northwest Division and the West Coast operates. Torres spent last season splitting time between Columbus and Buffalo. He will be a versatile winger who can chip in on offense occasionally and play a rugged style. Although not great defensively, he may get a long look on Malhotra's wing in training camp and pre-season.
Cody Hodgson, the 2008 first round pick of the Canucks, may finally make his debut as a Canuck. If he makes this team, it is likely in the second or third line. So look for him to start the season with a smaller role to adjust to the professional game.
Joseph's Outlook for 2010-2011 Bottom-six Line-up:
Raffi Torres - Manny Malhotra - Cody Hodgson
Jeff Tambellini - Rick Rypien - Jannik Hansen
I believe Torres will begin the season on the third line with Malhotra, and Hodgson barely makes the Canucks in October. That means he plays on the third line, which forces him to be responsible defensively and offensively.
Jeff Tambellini will skate and play his butt off in training camp, and the coaches should see his passion coming home to Vancouver to play hockey. He doesn't want anything less or more than to stay a Canuck. Rypien will replace Ryan Johnson as the centre of fourth line. Hansen make this roster from Day 1 on his usual RW spot.
That is my call. What is your take?
Does Cody Hodgson make the team? What about Jordan Schroeder? Also, what will the Canucks do with Glass, Hordichuk, Perrault or Bolduc remains to be seen. Give us your take in the reservation area for your personal comments!
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