For many, it’s surprising that it took until late January for Vinny Prospal to get at least a shot at resuming his NHL career, but it looks like the Vancouver Canucks will give him a chance to prove he can do it.
The Canucks announced that they signed the veteran winger to a PTO, allowing him to try out with the AHL’s Utica Comets.
Canucks GM Mike Gillis said that Prospal might get 8-10 games to prove himself and that the opportunity opened up thanks to some injuries for the team, according to Sportsnet Pacific.
Beyond his quietly impressive production (at least for an unemployed hockey player), the most interesting aspect of this situation is his relationship with John Tortorella, who coached him with the Rangers and Lightning.
Gillis notes that Torts “likes him a lot,” even though the 38-year-old memorably gave this slightly NSFW interview about the fiery coach back with Tampa Bay on Feb. 12, 2008.
While Prospal’s lack of speed is a frequent critique, he’s found a way to be an underrated producer. He’s a seven-time 20+ goal sorer, including 33 in 2007-08. He also peaked with 80 points in 2005-06 as a member of the Lightning (while also generating 79 and 71-point campaigns in his career).
It’s not all in the past, either, as only Rick Nash (59) scored more points than he did in Columbus (55) during the 2011-12 campaign.
Maybe you don’t break the bank for a player like that, especially at an advanced age, yet he seems like he’s worth a shot.
… And that’s not just because he might have another memorable confrontation with Torts.
Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.
Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.
Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.
The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.
It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.
Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.
That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.
“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”
Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.
“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.
“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”
Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.
As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.
He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.
His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.
Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.