While 10 goals and 14 assists aren’t exactly terrible numbers for a rookie, Linden Vey knows that his first season with the Vancouver Canucks did not match expectations.
Though he started relatively well, registering 12 points in his first 22 games, his production fell off dramatically. In the end, he was a healthy scratch for five of Vancouver’s six playoff games, and it was fair to question whether he could play center in the NHL.
“Sitting out (in the playoffs), I already had a lot of time to look at where things went wrong,” Vey told TSN.ca. “I was really honest. My preparation last summer wasn’t what it needed to be.”
Vey, who just turned 24, was acquired last summer in a trade with the Kings. He was essentially gifted a spot on Vancouver’s roster, despite having skated in only 18 NHL games up to that point.
Vey should once again be given a chance to play regularly in 2015-16. While centers Henrik Sedin, Nick Bonino, and Bo Horvat remain in Vancouver, the options beyond those three are limited, as the Canucks don’t have Brad Richardson or Shawn Matthias anymore.
“I’ve already worked the hardest I ever have in a summer,” Vey said. “In every league I’ve played in, I made a big jump in my second season. … Last season, I wasn’t the same player that got me to the NHL.”
With Paul Martin gone and current unrestricted free agent Christian Ehrhoff unlikely to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 21-year-old defenseman Derrick Pouliot has been presented with a golden opportunity.
The top-end blueline prospect got his first taste of NHL action last season, scoring two goals and seven points in 34 NHL contests. It made him realize that he needs to be in even better physical condition going forward, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In order to do that he’s been training with fitness guru and former NHLer Gary Roberts. He’s also made substantial changes to his diet.
“It’s about getting my conditioning up so if I get caught out there I’m not dying trying to keep up,” Pouliot said. “It’s a little bit of a lifestyle change. I mean I’m not really a picky eater.”
Pouliot’s goal is to become a two-way defenseman and take on more, or at least “harder,” minutes after averaging 17:32 minutes per game last season.
Even with two veteran defensemen gone though, he will still be competing with Olli Maatta, Tim Erixon, and Brian Dumoulin for one of potentially two or three roster spots.
The Washington Capitals really beefed up on Thursday.
After making the Zac Sill signing official, the team also announced that Chris Brown agreed to a two-year, two-way contract.
Perhaps they’ll need Brown on nights when Sill and/or Tom Wilson need to ice their knuckles?
Brown hasn’t really piled up penalty minutes during his sparse NHL appearances (21 PIM in 22 career NHL games spread out over four seasons, most recently with the Capitals). He wasn’t shy about dropping the gloves last season, getting into six fights in the AHL during the 2014-15 regular season and two preseason bouts at the NHL level.
The 24-year-old showed a dash of scoring ability in the AHL last season, too, with 28 points in 64 contests as a member of the Hershey Bears. Brown also played five games with the Caps in 2014-15, scoring one goal.