Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful off-season and maybe enjoyed the incredible sunny summer we had here in Vancouver. If not, I still hope you had good off-season regardless. In just over 24 hours, the puck drops officially to start the regular season for the NHL. For the Canucks, they start off where it ended last year, in Calgary. Flames centre, Sam Bennett is now 19 years old, and I’m sure if it’s a nationally televised game, we are all sure to be reminded throughout the broadcast of that fact.
The Canucks are looking a little different than last year. Gone are Eddie Lack, Kevin Bieksa, Nick Bonino, Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias. A few surprises from training camp and the commitment from management to get younger came to fruition as we head into opening night. This is the first preseason since 2009 that I’ve actually cared enough to watch because the roster was less predictable. Here are some the players I want to focus on that are now gone, new for the season to the Big Club and those stuck in limbo.
Ben Hutton : A nice surprise out of training camp and the pre-season. Defenseman, Ben Hutton (22) manages to take the roster spot that was penciled in for Frank Corrado. Hutton had a three helper game during the preseason and played extremely well to garner a spot with the big club, at least momentarily.
Jared McCann: Picked later in the 2014 draft, sames as Jake Virtanen, the draft-mates make the Canucks 23 man roster. McCann has shown some hands, some grit and a whole lot of enthusiasm in the preseason. So much so, it was a factor in putting Linden Vey on waivers to make room.
Jake Virtanen: Virtanen has been put on the ice with a few different combinations but he made it work for him no matter who his linemates were. He even scored a goal with his head vs. the Edmonton Oilers.
Jakob Marstrom: With the departure of Eddie Lack in an off season trade to Carolina, another Swedish goalie takes his spot as the team’s backup to Ryan Miller. Jakob Markstrom brought the Utica Comets to the Calder Cup final in the AHL and was within a game of winning it all. Markstrom has looked sharp this preseason and eased the minds of some of the doubtful, for now.
Eddie Lack: A huge fan favourite, Eddie Lack, with an incredibly likable personality was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes to bring up Jakob Markstrom from the AHL. He played with all his heart, even during the tough games. It’s a big reason why he will be missed here in Vancouver. Slotted into another back up job in Carolina is Lack, but who knows, perhaps Cam Ward will be best advised to be on his toes. Lack can get a lot of people excited, but unfortunately for Eddie, the amount of arena regulars is significant drop from what he was used to in Vancouver. While in Raleigh, he can discover some great southern cooking.
Kevin Bieksa: Another fan favourite has left, but it was probably the best for the team. Bieksa, in my opinion, has lost a lot of what made him such a good player in the prime of his career. Let’s not also forget the injuries he has sustained since the 2011 run. A little slower of foot, and some lapse in judgment on the ice sent him packing to Anaheim. His third pairing spot has been taken by the man with some fast wheels, Matt Bartkowski, from the Boston Bruins. However, I have a strange feeling Kevin Bieksa will find his way back to Vancouver once his playing career is over.
Frank Corrado: A bit of a surprise here, Frank Corrado has been put on waivers with the intent to be sent down to Utica. At the beginning of training camp, many fans and media alike, were expecting to see 26 in a Canucks uniform. Corrado played just fine, but Ben Hutton stole the show and Frankie’s job. Also on waivers with Corrado are centre, Linden Vey and defenseman, Alex Biega. ADDITION: Corrado was picked up on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Chris Higgins: The untimely injury for Higgins, one of our better defensive forwards, made training camp interesting. It allowed Virtanen and McCann to get a spot on the roster. Higgins’ recovery is ahead of schedule and will make for a very interesting juggling game for management and the coaching staff.
With these changes to the Vancouver Canucks roster, we will see different team. There is more speed, more youth, and more uncertainty. We don’t know whether they are going to be a good. They might end up being terrible. Either way, with the infusion of some of our prospects playing on opening night, this season sure will be more interesting. I’m just itching for the puck to drop already! Go #Canucks go!