Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
It has been a busy 24 hours for the Vancouver Canucks management with all the players either placed on waivers or released and assigned to their farm club in Manitoba.
Yesterday D-man Shane O’Brien and enforcer Darcy Hordichuk were placed on waivers and if not claimed by Monday, would be eligible for reassignment. Those two players combine for $2,375,000 million worth of cap space, which was the exercise in all this.
Even with the release of these two, the Canucks are still $733,333 over the cap.
If the NHL salary cap has done one thing, it has made life difficult for fringe players to remain with one team for very long. I really liked Shane O’Brien, and when he first arrived in Vancouver a couple of seasons ago he added some toughness to a very soft defensive group.
O’Brien understood his role, stood up for his team mates and brought a physical style to the D-group at that time. Yes he did run afoul of management at times, late for practice, butted heads with Coach Alain Vigneault, popped off to the media, but had progressed to number six on the depth chart.
On one hand O’Brien received a contract ($1.6M – 1 yr.) which showed that Canucks management thought enough of him to sign it, and on the other hand, it proved to be too high in today’s cap era for a player that had fallen down the depth charts to number eight.
In Darcy Hordichuk’s case it was also a matter of dollars ($775,000), for someone that seemed to have lost a step at today’s NHL pace. The enforcer’s job is not a glorious role and if you’re taking untimely penalties and are not scoring between 7 to 10 goals a season, then your days are numbered.
Looks like ‘Nucks management has decided that Tanner Glass has shown that he can play the enforcer role, comes at a price tag of $150,000 cheaper but he will be on a short leash also, if his offensive stats don’t improve.
Let’s not kid ourselves here, Glass and Hordichuk are about the same size at 6’1”, 210 lbs. and are small in relation to the mammoths that fill that role elsewhere. For example, a comparable player that skates with the Edmonton Oilers, Steve MacIntyre, comes in at 6’5”, 250 lbs. and the Oil have more than one of these types.
But I digress.
Getting back to the other Canucks players released, which were not unexpected – Bill Sweatt, Lee Sweatt, Sergei Shirokov, Yann Sauve and Victor Oreskovich were all assigned to the Canucks farm team, the Manitoba Moose.
Sauve, who had been in a minor traffic accident, was struck by a car while trying to cross at an inappropriate time and place. Although he was not injured significantly, he was not able to attend training camp or play in any pre-season games.
So this promising rookie that the Canucks had high hopes for never did get to show management anything, except a discretionary lapse in decision making.
Bill Sweatt, of the two brothers, has the best opportunity of returning to the Canucks, just maybe not this year, as he needs some seasoning in the minors. Sweat has great wheels, and shot, plays physical enough, just not enough experience at the NHL level.
Sergei Shirokov, who I watched light up the training camp and pre-season last year, came into camp this year over weight which did not impress Canucks management one little bit. In today’s high stakes world of professional hockey and players training in the off season, makes one wonder about Shirokov’s commitment.
The five above names mentioned were all non-roster players and unless they made the team, did not count against the team’s salary cap.
Just about three hours ago at the time of this writing, the Canucks released Brendan Morrison from his professional tryout. That shows you how deep the Canucks are at centre and their commitment to be a tougher team to play against on the third and fourth lines.
Peter Schaefer, who is also on a professional tryout, caught enough eyes with his versatility at being able to kill penalties, play the wing and still can motor, may be offered a two-way contract.
If Schaefer can get back to his production of a couple of seasons ago (2007-08) when he scored 12 goals or even 2005-06 when he scored 20, then he will be a great addition to the third line left side.
Victor Oreskovich came over in the Keith Ballard trade and Canucks management was hoping that with his size he would compete for a spot on the fourth line or possibly the third. Turns out he just did not compete period.
Quite invisible in most games, the only thing noticeable was that he is a great skater. But for someone that is 6’3”, 215 lbs. he did not use his size to his advantage and that’s not what management was looking for.
At the time of this writing, I have no word on the status of Cody Hodgson who is expected to be assigned to Manitoba. Jeff Tambellini and Joel Perrault are other players that management must be contemplating because there has been no decision there also.
I would think that the odds are against Tambellini since the Canucks did not use him to kill penalties, while Schaefer had success there. For Perrault, he just did not play better than Alex Bolduc at centre.
The Canucks still have plenty of cap juggling to do because two non-roster players that look headed for the fourth line, Alex Bolduc at centre and Guillaume Desbiens on right wing, carry between them $1,050,000 in contract.
Oh to have the capologist position in the NHL these days!
As always you can find me at http://twitter.com/nucksiceman and on alternate days, at the Vancouver Sun at http://communities.canada.com/VANCOUVERSUN/blogs/iceman/archive/2010/10/02/vancouver-canucks-2010-11-and-now-for-the-final-cuts.aspx
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