Canucks Army Player Previews: Linden Vey

Acquired in a trade that saw Jason Garrison go to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa’s 2nd round pick (Roland McKeown) dealt to Los Angeles, Linden Vey became the second “Linden” drafted out of the Medicine Hat Tigers to don a Canucks jersey, and the second Canuck roster player to play for Willie Desjardins’ Tigers, after the club acquired Derek Dorsett in a separate deal.

The 23-year old playmaker doesn’t have much in terms of an NHL track record, but has previously performed well in the CHL and made major strides towards becoming a very good pro in the AHL. Can Vey translate his strong junior and minor pro play into a full-time NHL position with the Canucks? Read past the jump.

2013-2014 Performance

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To be honest, Linden Vey’s 2013-14 NHL numbers don’t really tell us much of anything besides what happened when he was on the ice. Vey broke even in GF%, had a slightly positive Corsi on a far above positive Corsi NHL team, and was pretty awful with his most frequent linemate in Trevor Lewis as far as puck possession goes.

Vey, however, only appeared in 18 NHL games prior to this season, so as far as determining what his actual talent level was last season, well, we simply can’t do that. Even though we want players that drive GF% and Corsi% generally allows us to make that determination sooner by rapidly expanding the sample of events we can look at, 18 games of pretty limited ice time isn’t nearly enough to form opinions on whether Vey was actually good or bad last season. Looking at WOWYs reduces this sampling further and creates a ton of noise, as evidenced by Vey’s WOWYs being all over the map.

As a result, Vey is still very much a prospect, and had he been rated in our Prospect Profiles series, he would have surely been among the top-5 guys the Canucks have in their system. The 23-year old centre/right winger was a point-per-game player in his draft year for Willie Desjardins’ Medicine Hat Tigers, but fell to the LA Kings in the 4th round due in large part to a fairly deep draft in terms of CHL forward talent – 80% of the CHL forwards drafted ahead of Vey have appeared in the NHL. Vey had a solid draft+1 season, narrowly eclipsing a point-per-game once more, before exploding for a WHL-leading 116 points and 1.68 pts/GP as a 19-year old in 2010-11.

While his CHL offensive totals were encouraging, they weren’t significantly different enough from what a guy like Brendan Shinnimin did during his WHL career to say that Vey was a definite NHLer. Unlike Shinnimin, however, Vey kept improving in the AHL, becoming a #1 centre and the top scoring threat on an extremely strong Manchester Monarchs team in 2013-2014. Although he wasn’t able to crack an incredibly strong LA Kings squad, this seems like it had more do to a stylistic choice by Darryl Sutter (going with guys like Kyle Clifford and Dwight King and Jordan Nolan in his bottom-6) than it did with Vey’s hockey playing ability.

2014-2015 Outlook

If preseason and the first couple of games (against admittedly weaker opponents) are any indication, Vey looks ready to be a strong contributor to Vancouver’s middle-6 forward group. His point totals throughout his career indicate that he’s a pass-first type of guy, so it seems like he could have good chemistry with shooters like Alex Burrows, Radim Vrbata, or Chris Higgins. He’s also started the year as the high-slot guy on Vancouver’s 1-3-1 powerplay, which has looked refreshingly not futile in the early going and through preseason.

If Vey continues to see time on the first powerplay unit, it’s not out of the question that he is among the NHL leaders in rookie scoring by season’s end. He was among Vancouver’s top scorers in the preseason, and has his first NHL goal and one assist through two regular season games as well. 50 points is first-line production, and that’s probably too much to ask of a guy with 18 NHL games under his belt, but production similar to what we expect from Nick Bonino – roughly 35 points – would be a very positive season.

What remains to be seen is if Vey’s 200-foot game is complete enough to enable Willie Desjardins to play him in every 5-on-5 situation. Young players aren’t frequently in the black for puck possession, but Vey isn’t quite a young player any more. At 23, he’s approaching his prime years, so an acceptable two-way game isn’t too much to expect from the rookie.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Vey out-perform Nick Bonino this year, which would be very promising for Vancouver. They’ll never have a second line centre as good as Ryan Kesler was, but if Vey develops into the solid middle-6 player he has the potential to be this season, it will go a long way to taking some of the pressure off of Henrik Sedin, and giving Vancouver some of the depth scoring they sorely lacked last season.

  • Burnward

    The Canucks may never have another 41 goal Selke award winning 2nd center! but bothe Vey and Bonino give the team quality depth we haven’t had in a while.add in Horvat Mattius and Richardson the center depth is pretty good.this team won’t be top heavy anymore which is a big plus.

    Vey is the kind of sly acquisition that Benning will bring to the table. He convinced Garrison to waive his NTC and saw the log jam the Kings had at center. Vey would have languished in the AHL and probably lost on waivers at some point, so Benning pounced.he has brought a lot to the PP in the high slot and should do well in a third line role. Good player for a second round pick

  • Burnward

    Since Vey has a good history with Desjardins at the Hat, I am expecting that the coach will be able to develop Vey into a top 6 forward over the next couple of years.

    Vey’s already had a lot of seasoning in the King’s organization and I think that his success in the minors will give him the confidence that he can also taste success in the NHL.

    He’s looked good so far and will hopefully will help make our powerplay into an elite unit.

  • Burnward

    Not having seen any of the Canucks’ games yet (caught ’em on web radio), I’d have to say that either Vey or Vrbata will be off the PP sooner rather than later. There was what–four or five SH rushes against the top unit in two games?

    That unit needs to either get better quickly, or get blown up quickly. We only get one more warm-up game before we start playing heavyweights.

  • bossram

    Talking to a couple of Manchester watchers – they proffered the opinion that while Vey should ultimately be successful at NHL level, it will be as a winger.

    Having watched his last couple of games, I tend to agree. Gets smashed on faceoffs and lacks a bit of size. I think he could become quite a good second line winger with his playmaking skills.

  • bossram

    Linden BAE.

    This was one of the few Benning moves I liked. It’s a decent gamble on a guy with high upside who already has a lot of pro experience and is NHL ready.

    I think 35 points would be a success. And I think it’s in the realm of possibility, especially with 1PP time. The only questions are whether Vey can handle the defensive responsibilities at this level and not lose the possession battle.

    40+ points and breakeven Corsi would be a huge win for the Canucks.

  • bossram

    Love the Vey trade but Roland McKeown would have been a nice add with the 2nd round pick as well. That kid has a bright future on an already ridiculously deep Kings D!

  • bossram

    ” 50 points is first-line production, and that’s probably too much to ask of a guy with 18 NHL games under his belt, but production similar to what we expect from Nick Bonino – roughly 35 points – would be a very positive season.”

    Maybe I was spoiled with Sedinery and the President’s Trophy years, but is 50 points really the average for a first liner? (Granted, I’m assuming it would be higher for a first liner on a playoff team)

    Ditto 35 points for second liner?

    • bossram

      hmm, to answer my own question, I just eyeballed last year’s stats for the top 90 forwards in scoring…

      100+ points = 1 forward
      90-99 points = 0 forwards
      80-89 points = 6 forwards
      70-79 points = 9 forwards
      60-69 points = 23 forwards
      50-59 points = 45 forwards
      40-49 points = 6 forwards

      So yeah, I guess we were spoiled more than I thought when the twins were putting up the production of an average top line just between the two of them.

    • bossram

      Can’t find my notes on this, but there was an article a few months back that cited 40-50ish as median 2nd line production, and 60+ as median first line. 35 is a good 3rd line or a crappy 2nd line.

      So those citing 40-45 pts for Bonino are saying he’ll provide NHL-average second liner performance; those saying 35 pts are saying he’s a ‘tweener’ who is 2C on a bad team & 3C on a good team.

      But yes, yes we were spoiled. Our 2C gave us consecutive 70+ point seasons and 3 years back-to-back of 1st line production.