Brandon Prust

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After acrimonious January, Canucks waive Prust

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Looks like Brandon Prust‘s time as a Canuck could soon be coming to a close.

Prust, who made waves last month about his displeasure with his role in Vancouver, was placed on waivers on Monday, per Sportsnet.

Back in mid-January, Prust was set to be a healthy scratch as Vancouver took on his former team, the New York Rangers.

Yet when the game arrived, Prust was in the lineup ahead of rookie Jake Virtanen — a move team president Trevor Linden described as a “delicate dance.”

More, from what Brough wrote back then:

“It wasn’t the plan,” said Linden of the decision to sit Virtanen. “We deviated for other reasons. It’s not ideal, obviously. He’s a young guy that was playing well, but we’re changing things up tonight. He’ll be back in against Boston (on Thursday).”

And what were those “other reasons”?

“Obviously, there was some talk about Brandon Prust coming out,” said Linden. “And being at his former team, we thought it’d be the right thing to have him in. As a coach, you want to do the right thing for your room sometimes.”

So, did Desjardins change his mind after he saw the way Prust reacted? Because, according to what was reported on the radio station, Prust didn’t take the healthy scratching very well.

“No, I just think, in retrospect, you have other thoughts, maybe you go down a certain path and you go back,” said Linden. “It’s a delicate dance with the coach and his group and his room [with] maybe the ideas that we may have, so we try to manage those things.”

One week after the incident in New York, Prust’s agent, Claude Lemieux, said that if things continued they way they were in Vancouver, his client would likely be on the move.

Acquired last summer in the Zack Kassian-to-Montreal trade, Prust, 31, is in the last of a four-year, $10 million deal with a $2.5 million cap hit.

If he goes unclaimed on waivers, it stands to reason he could be on his way to Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica — where he’d be skating with another veteran carrying a reasonably large NHL salary: Chris Higgins, who’s been with the Comets for the last few weeks.

Lemieux told Vancouver’s News 1130 Prust will report to Utica if assigned.

Related: Higgins clears waivers, Utica coach ‘excited’ to get him

Prust wants to play, but that may only happen if Canucks trade him

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The delicate dance of scratching or not scratching Brandon Prust may end with a trade from the Vancouver Canucks.

Prust wouldn’t comment beyond saying he wanted to play, and his agent Claude Lemieux* said that the rugged winger hasn’t asked for a trade. Still, Lemieux admitted to the Vancouver Sun that it wouldn’t be shocking if the Canucks shipped Prust out of town.

“Brandon wants to play,” Lemieux said. “He understands the situation … But if this goes on, he is probably going to get moved.”

(The full article is worth a look, even if you just go there for the photo of Prust “play-fighting” with Jake Virtanen.)

At first blush, the reaction may be “What’s Prust really worth?”

Still, he’s a tough player who can score a little here and there, something teams value if the asking price isn’t too steep. Don’t be surprised if his name is bandied about sometime between today and the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

* – Weird, right?

Krejci activated, expected back tonight versus Vancouver

AP

The Boston Bruins have activated center David Krejci ahead of tonight’s home game versus Vancouver. In a corresponding move, the B’s have assigned forward Frank Vatrano to AHL Providence.

Krejci hasn’t played since Dec. 27 when he suffered an upper-body injury against Ottawa. The B’s went 5-4-1 in his absence. They enter tonight’s contest having won three in a row.

Though officially considered a game-time decision, Krejci is expected to center a second line of Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson, with Ryan Spooner dropping down to play between Joonas Kemppainen and Jimmy Hayes.

Spooner, who in the past has drawn the ire of Claude Julien, received some high praise today from his coach.

“Ryan has taken some huge strides here in this time where David Krejci’s been out,” said Julien. “You hope it makes our team better and that’s what we talked about, taking advantage of the opportunity and make yourself a better player.”

The Canucks, meanwhile, will be icing an even younger lineup than the young one they iced Tuesday at the Rangers. With Jake Virtanen, 19, and Mike Zalewski, 23, coming in to replace Brandon Prust and Adam Cracknell, Vancouver will have seven forwards under the age of 25.

The Canucks were going to scratch Prust, but it’s a ‘delicate dance’

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The original plan was for 19-year-old Jake Virtanen to replace 31-year-old Brandon Prust.

But when the Vancouver Canucks take on the Rangers tonight at MSG, Virtanen will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game and Prust will be in the lineup to take on his former team.

Why the change by coach Willie Desjardins?

Canucks president Trevor Linden was asked about it today on TSN 1040 radio (audio).

“It wasn’t the plan,” said Linden of the decision to sit Virtanen. “We deviated for other reasons. It’s not ideal, obviously. He’s a young guy that was playing well, but we’re changing things up tonight. He’ll be back in against Boston (on Thursday).”

And what were those “other reasons”?

“Obviously, there was some talk about Brandon Prust coming out,” said Linden. “And being at his former team, we thought it’d be the right thing to have him in. As a coach, you want to do the right thing for your room sometimes.”

So, did Desjardins change his mind after he saw the way Prust reacted? Because, according to what was reported on the radio station, Prust didn’t take the healthy scratching very well.

“No, I just think, in retrospect, you have other thoughts, maybe you go down a certain path and you go back,” said Linden. “It’s a delicate dance with the coach and his group and his room [with] maybe the ideas that we may have, so we try to manage those things.”

Translation: management wanted Virtanen, the sixth overall draft pick in 2014, to play. But the coach, for “delicate dance”-related reasons, opted for the veteran over the rookie.

Prust, by the way, is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Related: The Canucks are going to be rather young tonight

The Canucks are going to be rather young tonight

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Remember when the Vancouver Canucks desperately needed to get younger?

Well, with Henrik Sedin expected to be sidelined until after the All-Star break and Brandon Sutter still not ready to return from sports-hernia surgery, the Canucks could have a 19-year-old, Jared McCann, playing first-line center and a 20-year-old, Bo Horvat, playing second-line center tonight against the Rangers in New York.

Is that young enough?

“I’m probably going up against their best line and I’m going to take it as a challenge, and I always like a challenge, so it’s nice,” McCann told The Province yesterday. “I’m a competitive guy and I want to play every night, and I want to make the most of it.”

McCann is the 10th-youngest player to have appeared in an NHL game this season…

youth

…and remember that Daniel Sprong and Mikko Rantanen aren’t with their NHL teams anymore.

Vancouver winger Jake Virtanen, even younger than McCann, is expected to sit tonight. It was originally thought Virtanen, 19, may replace veteran Brandon Prust, but apparently coach Willie Desjardins decided otherwise.

Tonight’s Canucks are also expected to feature a 22-year-old rookie defenseman in Ben Hutton and a pair of 23-year-old forwards in Sven Baertschi and Emerson Etem.

Related: Etem on time with Rangers: ‘Sometimes you go in there and you just don’t fit in