Since Jackson McDonald last asked what would you do, on a Wednesday, the Vancouver Canucks have added another to the fold, signing unrestricted free agent winger Thomas Vanek to a one-year deal valued at $2-million. So it should be no surprise to you that this week’s query is about the newest Canuck.
Now that the Vanek signing is official, let’s have a game of armchair coach. Where would you slot him in the Canucks lineup? Does he play a role on special teams? There are so many different ways you can answer this, so I’m curious to see where you all go with the question. Feel free to speculate on his linemates and how they’ll perform as a unit next season.
Last week I asked: Who’s your dark horse candidate to make the team out of camp?
Dark horse pick, surprisingly, is Jake Virtanen. Watching highlights of the tail end of his season in Utica I forgot just how fast he really is. And he can still shoot the puck quite well. If he comes into camp throwing his body around he could very well be the type of fourth line player we need right now, and could see some second unit PP if things go well.
I would say Anton Rodin, who’s behind the eight-ball after his complicated knee injury last year. I’m rooting for him for a strong recovery and for him to regain the form that allowed him to capture the SHL’s golden helmet in 2016.
This “wasted contract” played well in his five game with the Canucks last spring. His speed and defensive abilities came as advertised. Offensively he was a slippery player that didn’t mind going to the net. In college, his quickness and anticipation made him exceptional at the penalty kill, which the Canucks can use with Burrows and Hansen gone. An excellent line mate for Gaunce on the fourth line.
Do I really think he’ll make it onto the starting roster? Naw. “Asset management” concerns means that most waiver-exempt players will likely start in Utica.
My dark horse pick is… no one. There will be no surprise team-makers out of camp this year.
Benning & Co. have made sure the Canucks are overflowing with mid-roster players who the team won’t want to lose on waivers. The goal seems pretty clearly to let their prospects marinate another year in the AHL, SHL, and CHL. Unless someone absolutely blows the doors off, they’re going to stand pat. That means more AHL for Virtanen, more SHL for Dahlen, and more OHL for Juolevi (unless he goes to Europe for a year).
For me it is Goldobin. I think there is a place for him on the first line with the Sedins. I think the China trip could be good for some of the younger players. While the vets are off playing LA in Beijing, some of the prospects may get a better shot to prove themselves at home.
Andrey Pedan has shown speed a rocket shot and grit, all of which are needed upgrades for this roster. I think he can make the top four if he gets on a roll. If he makes the six spot paired with Gudbranson they could be a force with their size.