A few years ago, when the Vancouver Canucks were still riding high, it wasn’t hard to find a bargain on their roster.
Just to name four…
—- Alex Burrows was making peanuts while racking up goals with the Sedin twins.
—- Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler were a pair of inexpensive defensemen, at least relative to their sizable offensive contributions.
—- Cory Schneider was stellar backing up Roberto Luongo, and he was doing it for just north of the league minimum.
But those days are gone now. Burrows and Edler have since signed bigger contracts with the Canucks; Ehrhoff and Schneider have moved on to new teams.
All of which is why Vancouver — no longer flying very high — is desperate for new bargains to emerge in 2013-14.
If they’re going to emerge, it’s most likely they’ll come in the form of youngsters. Zack Kassian’s cap hit is still just $870,000; Jordan Schroeder’s is only $600,000. Prospects with an opportunity to make the club out of training camp include defenseman Frank Corrado and forwards Brendan Gaunce, Bo Horvat, Nicklas Jensen, and Kellan Lain. And, of course, there will also be a new backup for Luongo — probably either Eddie Lack or Joacim Eriksson.
“I think we’re at that stage where we have a very good team that is a veteran team, so those (younger) guys are going to play with good players, they’re not going to be exposed,” said general manager Mike Gillis.
“I would like to have spots available for those guys to compete for.”
For new coach John Tortorella — who had plenty of success developing youngsters with the New York Rangers — Kassian is a particularly intriguing project.
“I’ve seen him play for Buffalo and he didn’t play a lot, but I’ve done a lot of reading and asking what he’s about and everything that comes back to me is that there are a lot of things there — as far as his toughness and hands,” Tortorella said.
“Do I know where he’s at with our team? I don’t. We need to get to camp and I’m hoping the consistency stays with him and forces me to put him in spots that’s going to really help our team. He’s going to make those decisions for me. But he’s really interesting to me, just from the number of conversations I’ve had about him.”
Add it up and Gillis is certainly right when he says, “It’s going to be an interesting camp.”
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