September 17 2010 01:32PM
Let's hope the Canucks camp attendees are a lot more excited than this group.
Vancouver Canucks' main training camp opens the weekend. With it, we see the return of past Canucks, current players who've set new standards within the organization, and new young talent looking to claim their place on this year's roster.
So who really has a shot of making the Vancouver Canucks this year?
As we look into the Canucks 2010 training camp roster, we see many familiar faces and fresh ones ready to break through. The full list of camp attendees is shown in the Canucks current roster list here.
Returning to the Fold
The are a couple of surprising additions to the Canucks training camp this year. Former Canucks Brendan Morrison and Peter Schaefer both signed Professional Tryout contracts with the club to appear at training camp. Morrison himself has stated (from an article in the Vancouver Sun) that he is trying out, not to showcase his talents, but to make the club which he feels has a real shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Scheafer has not publicly stated what his goals were in attending the Canucks camp, but by all reports (ex. the Globe & Mail), he wasn't exactly getting offers from left and right. Morrison has a much better shot at making the club this year, although he would have to be willing to take a pretty sizable pay cut, given the Canucks need to squeeze in players under the cap. If he does make the club, I suspect Morrison would indeed take a smaller paycheque. He wants to win a Cup, and he knows that Vancouver has one of the best teams in the league. Unfortunately for Schaefer, I don't see him having much more to offer to the Canucks that they don't already have in spades, but younger and cheaper.
Improving on Near-Perfection
How the hell do you improve on a season where you won the Hart and the Art Ross? How do you improve on your greatest statistical season yet? The Sedins are faced with that dilemma. Honestly, how could they improve? They finished at the top of the league in almost every offensive statistical category the NHL has. Daniel's only drawback was being hurt, but his per-game totals were in the top 3 in the league.
Henrik will once again be without one of his top linemates for a significant stretch as Alex Burrows misses the start of the campaign recovering from shoulder surgery. But Daniel and Henrik will find that old spark, we're sure. And no matter who their temporary linemate is, they'll create some magic. Is it really necessary for either of them to improve on last season? Yes, in the post season. They couldn't do much more in the regular season. But as the Canucks enter the playoffs this year, the Sedins need to dig deeper and start dominating as they do in game #22, #62 or #82.
The Sedins have done what they need to do in the regular season. They need to focus ALL of their energy on putting this team on their backs once the playoffs start. Canucks fans need to see the Sedins play beyond the second round, and they need to see Henrik and Daniel truly lead the Canucks to a Cup. THAT'S how you improve on last year.
The Canucks have a LOT of young talent trying out this year. A LOT. They have 20 skaters entering camp who have either never played in the NHL or have played less than 10 games total. By all accounts, the Canucks really only have 4 permanent roster spots up for grabs (5, if you could Burrows' spot, which he will reclaim sometime in November). The 4 places being contested would be the three 4th line spots, as well as the 3rd line RW spot. Some feel that even that 3rd line RW spot is Jannik Hansen's to lose, but Hansen just hasn't taken that noticeable leap into NHL calibre play yet.
Does Jordan Schroeder have enough in him to take a spot on the top 2 lines, while Burrows heals? What about Cody Hodgson? Has his back healed sufficiently to allow him to play to the best of his ability? Will it be good enough to land him a roster spot? What about new signings like Tambellini and Oreskovich? Will they make up the 4th line?
I think that Schroeder will battle it out with Brendan Morrison for that temporary opening while Burrows is out. Once Burrows returns, Schroeder would be sent to Manitoba, and Morrison could move down to the 3rd or 4th line. I do not think that Hodgson is making the team this year. He needs a year of pro play in the AHL to get his game back after missing such a significant amount of time. The 4th line will be hotly contested. The staff seems to really like Tanner Glass, so I would see him on the 4th line, joined by Oreskovich. That last spot is too hard to call, so we'll wait to see who emerges from training camp to claim that last spot. Given a draw, it would likely be a returning vet such as Rypien who keeps that last spot.
As for the defense, there is just too much depth and too many bodies there already for any of the rookies to have a real chance of making the team. Their time will come mid-season, when someone goes down to injury or Gillis pulls the trigger on a trade. But don't count on seeing Connauton or Tanev or Oberg or any of the others much past October 1st.
Sitting on the Sidelines
The Canucks and General Manager Mike Gillis had some interesting problems as the summer ended. First, while Gillis was madly acquiring talent, he was pushing his team closer to the brink of the salary cap, and finally over the limit. Meanwhile, Alex Burrows has off-season shoulder surgery and will miss the first month of the year. Then we learned that Sami Salo was injured, tearing his Achilles tendon and will be out for at least the first 5 months of the season. All this while Canuckland is going crazy to trade Kevin Bieksa in order to make room under the salary cap.
With all this said and done, it looks as though the Canucks may not have to trade Bieksa (or anyone for that matter) in order to fit under the salary cap.With cap relief coming with the absences of both Salo and Burrows, the Canucks appear to be very tight to the limit without actually exceeding it.
So what goes through the mind of Burrows and Salo as they sit sidelined, watchhing the goings-on of training camp? Burrows will return first, well ahead of Salo, and will miss around 15 games. His tenacity and energy will be missed, but he'll have to time to regain his form as the season progresses. As for Salo, I honestly hope he simply retires. Not for the cap relief or anything GM-related. For the simple fact, that the poor man is broken and fragile. He is one of the most injury prone professional athletes I have EVER seen. Between bad luck, bad bounces, and just bad injuries, Salo is aging and will have a hard time recovering from this latest setback.
Who takes the mantle this year? Do we see Schroeder or Hodgson crack the lineup for October 9th? Do one of the old soldiers returning to home base have a chance of seeing time on the front lines?
We'll see as we start the real push for real hockey in real short order.