Review: The Newbies

Marco Sturm is the most high profile player the Canucks have acquired this off-season.
Yeah. I’m underwhelmed too. But if he has a bounce back season, LOOK OUT.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

We’re almost two full weeks through the NHL Free Agency season, and the Vancouver Canucks have been nothing but a bit player. While teams like the Panthers, Sabres and Flyers have been crazy in the free agent and trade market, the Canucks have stood pat, choosing instead to build their organizational depth.

So who exactly have the Canucks acquired in the past two weeks? Let’s take a look!

And I’ll take a stab at trying to project how these new Canucks players will do with the team this coming year.

Marco Sturm – LW

Career NHL Numbers: 890GP 239G 243A 482Pts +72
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Excited: Sturm is a 7-time 20-goal scorer and has only been a minus player twice in his career (once in his rookie season, the other on a terrible Bruins team in 06-07). Sturm is a consistent goal scorer and a responsible two-way player. He will provide some much needed scoring depth. He has the potential to play 2nd line minutes with Kesler, but will likely slot in on the 3rd line to provide more balanced scoring across the top 9 forwards. He’s also likely highly motivated to get his playing career back on track, much like Raffi Torres did last season.
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Nervous: Sturm is coming of two out of three seasons riddled with injuries. In the last 3 seasons, Sturm has missed a total of 116 games, with a concussion and two separate knee injuries, including tearing his ACL and his MCL. That being said, Sturm says he feels better than he has in years and is fully recovered and healthy. Given how close the Canucks were (and still are) to winning a Stanley Cup, I can’t see why they would take a risk on picking up a player they knew was injured.
Season Projection: Assuming he plays a full season (or close to it 75 GP or more), Sturm could and should add an 8th 20-goal season to his resume. I’m predicting a bounce back season for the prolific German. 77GP 21G 28A 49Pts +12

Andrew Ebbett – C

Career NHL Numbers: 145GP 19G 33A 52Pts +2
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Excited: Ebbett is small and speedy – a likely replacement to all of you Canucks fans who fell in love with Jeff Tambellini during his brief time on the West Coast. Ebbett has put up some decent numbers in the AHL and will likely be stationed in Chicago with the Wolves. He’ll provide offense and speed to the Canucks’ farm club and help along the younger prospects.
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Nervous: He hasn’t exactly lit the goal light in the NHL, so don’t expect him to be doing that with the Canucks this season. He’ll probably put up some Tamby-esque numbers with the Canucks, which isn’t exactly anything to get excited about.
Season Projection: He’ll be a call-up for the top 9 forwards if one of them gets hurt. He may even see some regular shifts in the first month if Mason Raymond is still on the team and expected to play with Kesler on the 2nd line. 26GP 6G 5A 11Pts -3

Mark Mancari – RW

Career NHL Numbers:  36GP 3G 10A 13Pts -3
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Excited:  Mancari is big, tough and has a cannon of a shot. He has also put up some very impressive numbers in junior and in the AHL (5 straight 20 goal seasons in the AHL) and was fourth in AHL goalscoring last year with Portland. A tough center than provides some solid depth for the Canucks.
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Nervous:  Low risk here, really. Nothing is expected of him this season and is certainly expected to play the vast majority of the season with the Wolves. For Canucks fans worried about missing some toughness, Mancari is a definitely a potential solution to that. That said, he isn’t going to play many big league games this year.
Season Projection:  He’ll be recalled when the Canucks need to add some extra size and punchiness into the lineup (think, Edmonton, Winnipeg). 10GP 1G 1A 2Pts -2

Steve Pinizzotto – RW

Career NHL Numbers:  N/A
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Excited:  Steve Pinizzotto is full of energy. I mean, FULL of energy. He compares his style to that of Brad Marchand and recognizes that he is the type of player that is difficult to play against. That’s a good thing, as Canucks fans know full well what a gigantic pain in the ass Marchand was in the Stanley Cup Final. And boy, does Pinizzotto like to flap his flippers – ranked 20th in the AHL last year in total PIMs. He also played on some terrific teams in Hershey over the past years, so he has seen some team success and will hopefully bring that to the Wolves this season.
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Nervous:  Stevie P is already 27 years old, so his track to the NHL has been slooooooooow. Given his propensity for taking penalties, he would likely be a liability on the ice when he’s out there. But he probably wouldn’t be out there long. Face off, drops mitts, punchpunchpunch, raises hands to crowd, sits in sin bin for 5 minutes, rides pine for rest of game.
Season Projection: I actually don’t think he’ll see a game for the Canucks. He’ll be in Chicago to help along the younger guys and to stand up for his teammates. 0GP 0G 0A 0Pts

Alexander Sulzer – D

Career NHL Numbers:  62GP 1G 6A 7Pts -4
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Excited:  The Canucks have refilled their quotient of German defensemen. I know, I’m the 800th person to make that joke. Sorry. Sulzer is the only defenseman the Canucks have picked up so far in the off-season, choosing to focus on re-signing their existing blue line corps. Sulzer cut his chops in the Predators organization, a team renowned for the defensive system, so he comes from solid, sound positional hockey.
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Nervous:  He’s had a short career and has already suffered three injuries causing him to miss significant time.  But as a depth defenseman, he probably won’t play too much. Right now he would project as the 8th or 9th defenseman.
Season Projection: Assuming that the Canucks top 8 project as Bieksa/Hamhuis, Edler/Salo, Ballard/Tanev, Rome/Alberts, Sulzer would be the 9th D. But given the injuries the Canucks blue line tends to suffer, he’ll probably see a handful of NHL games this year. 6GP 0G 1A 1Pts -1

Matt Climie – G

Career NHL Numbers:  5GP 2W 2L 0OT .892 Sv% 3.25 GAA
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Excited: His NHL numbers are skewed heavily because of one bad game. But his AHL numbers are quite decent, and the Canucks needed another netminder on the farm club after deciding to let go of Tyler Weiman. He’ll provide some excellent depth behind Eddie Lack in Chicago and appears to be a pretty good upgrade of Weiman for the Canucks’ AHL team.
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Nervous:  He’s fourth in the goaltending depth chart in the Canucks organization. If he sees any NHL time this year, Canucks fans should be worried that some type of alien virus has infected their goalies, or that some evil Gillooly-like character is running around smashing goalie kneecaps.
Season Projection: 0GP

Mike Duco – RW

*** (still unsigned RFA)

Career NHL Numbers: 12GP 0G 0A 0Pts -4
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Excited:  For his on-ice production, they shouldn’t. For his use of social media, they should. Duco (@Duco87) is an avid Twitter user and has posted some gems, including some chronicled chirps about the Canucks during the playoffs.  Frankly, I think the brouhaha around his tweets is absolutely meaningless. He played for another team at the time. And besides, nobody in the league likes the Canucks, so this should hardly be a surprise that an opposing player took umbrage with the Canucks antics and failures during the playoffs. I just hope that Duco gets back riding the Twitter train and spits out some quality tweets from his time with the Wolves. His acquisition was quite interesting through. He was acquired from Florida in exchange for another RFA, Sergei Shirokov. Shirokov already went on record, saying that he had no intention of staying in North America this season, opting to return home to the KHL instead. So the Canucks traded a commodity (albeit a much better commodity) that they knew wouldn’t play for them for a player that will happily help fill  out their AHL roster. Good deal.
Why Should Canucks Fans Be Nervous:  It’s pretty unlikely that Duco will see any NHL time this season, so there isn’t much to be nervous about. And if he does, go see my notes on Pinizzotto.
Season Projection: Well, first the Canucks have to sign him, since he is still a restricted free agent. He’ll sign a two-way deal but there won’t be any NHL time for the smallish pugilist. He’ll get his mitts plenty dusty in the AHL. 0GP 0G 0A 0Pts