Expectations were high for Linden Vey when the Canucks dealt a second-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings to acquire him in the summer of 2014. There were ups and downs during his first full NHL season, but fans hoped that with a year of full-time NHL experience and a full summer of training under his belt, he would be able to build on a 10-goal, 24-point campaign.
Unfortunately those hopes were dashed when he was a surprise cut on the last day of training camp, losing his spot to rookie Jared McCann.
The numbers don’t shine a positive light on Vey, posting negative relative goal, scoring chance, and shot-attempt differentials across the board. (Though it’s important to note just how awful the entire team was down the stretch when Vey was recalled.) The traditional boxcars look a little better, however, showing a modest uptick in points per game from his previous campaign.
To say that Linden Vey had a rough season would be an understatement. Not only did his on-ice performance lag well behind expectations, but we now know he was struggling with some pretty serious off-ice issues as well. With the emergence of Jared McCann, the acquisition of Markus Granlund, and the possible addition of Pierre-Luc Dubois at the draft, it appears as though Vey could be the odd-man out heading into restricted free agency.
That being said, the team would be wise to tender him a qualifying offer. His underlying numbers are in the wheelhouse of fellow reclamation projects Markus Granlund and Emerson Etem, two players the team will likely roll the dice on in the hopes that they can improve their overall game. It’s hard to envision a scenario where things could go any worse than they did this past season for Vey, so he likely deserves another chance in the same way that they do.
While Vey has refused to use his family situation as an excuse for his disappointing performance, it seems reasonable to think he can be a more effective player with all of the off-ice distractions put behind him. Truth be told, I’m of the mind that Linden Vey is closer to being what management seems to think Markus Granlund is than Granlund himself: a responsible, versatile bottom-of-the-lineup piece that can play up the lineup if need be. And even if he struggles again to prove himself at the NHL level, he’s proven to be an elite AHL contributor, something every organization can find use for.
There weren’t a ton of memorable moments for Vey this season, but he did score a nice power play goal against the Blue Jackets:
Next season will likely be Vey’s last shot at proving he belongs in the NHL. I think it’s well within the realm of possibility that Vey can carve himself out a role in a team’s bottom-six next year if given the opportunity.
What remains to be seen is whether or not he gets that opportunity in Vancouver.