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Vancouver Canucks

Ice Wars The Battle For Vancouver

Vancouver Canucks

The first puck drops to start the new season on October the 1st 2009. This is when war starts to break out across North America. Teams will fight to earn enough points to open up the gates to the playoff’s and beyond. Before any of this can happen a bigger conflict must run its course. For those on the front line this is more than a fight for points that will help their team compete for a slot in playoff’s, this is personal.

All thirty NHL teams are currently in preseason mode. Coaches will be trying to evaluate which players, as yet not guaranteed a spot on the team’s roster, deserve a chance to play in the NHL. For those players it’s time to try and catch the eye of their coaching staff. Perhaps by scoring a goal with a lightening speed slap shot, or by dekeing the opposing goalie, so much that he needs to have a lie down between periods, or may be administering bone shaking checks, to poor unsuspecting forwards. Player’s are now competing against there own team mates for a position on the roster. This can be a very stressful time, which some can naturally excel at while other’s will fall to the wayside along with their dreams and maybe NHL careers, as they sent back to the minor leagues.

For the Vancouver Canucks coaching staff this couldn’t be any more apparent. After Mondays game against the Edmonton Oiler’s during the post game press conference, head coach Alain Vigneault said by this Friday he will reduce his current roster to around 30 –32 players with more cuts by Sunday. So lets now have a look at the job Vigneault and his staff has on their hands. I shall focus on the players, which are on the outside looking in, and only the most noteworthy.

When starting goaltender Roberto Luongo recently signed a contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks, 23 year old Canucks goalie prospect Cory Schneider must have felt that his aspirations of playing in the NHL took a step in the wrong direction. Schneider Vancouver’s first round pick of the 2004 entry draft has been touted as an eventual starter for the team that drafted him. He is currently the starting goalie for the Canucks farm team of the AHL. Last year he was voted the goalie of the year in that league and many thought he could have been Luongo’s backup for the new season. That might have been the case if Vancouver didn’t sign goalie Andrew Raycroft this off-season, Raycroft a former Calder Memorial Trophy winner for rookie of the year. So now we have a battle off the backups, both players could be reasonable replacements in goal when needed. Although Raycroft may be the most suited for the job as he has more experience at the NHL level. When Schneider played 8 games for the Canucks last season, he only recorded two wins and at times really seemed out of his depth sinking deep in to a quagmire of inexperience, then on other occasions displayed pure talent. I personally feel that Raycroft could be the winner of this contest, as he has looked sharper in the preseason. Even Alain Vigneaualt said that Schneider could have played better than he did in a 5-4 win against Calgary. If Schneider looses this competition I’m sure his name will arise in the trade rumor discussions again.

At twenty-three Sergei Shirokov is another player trying to crack the team. Shirokov was drafted by the organization in 2006 and is struggling with his English but not on the ice. When he played his first preseason game against the New York Islanders, he made sure he would be on his coaches radar, scoring both goals in the 2-1 win, he was also the first star in that game. In his next game he was on the scoreboard again this time, with two assists playing on the first line with the twins. Last Season he played for CSKA Moscow he had 17 goals, 23 assist’s in 53 games. I really think that it will be very hard for the coaching staff to ignore this player I believe he has a good chance of becoming a fixture on the roster.

The favorite of most Vancouver fans Cody Hodgson has been less impressive only scoring two goals so far. Alain Vigneault has already been a little critical of his play saying he could have played better. This is his second attempt to make the transition from junior to pro, with only 3 games remaining he will have to pull some more tricks out of the bag to ensure that becomes a reality.

Also fighting to make the team is Jannick Hansen a regular member in the line up last year, until breaking his finger and then he was in a constant battle to keep his spot. He has shown skill as a checking forward who can raise his fists if needed. He may spend time oscillating between this organization and their AHL affiliate. On the other hand Mason Raymond has been playing really well, further solidifying his chances of playing on the roster come October 1st. Other player’s to keep an eye on are Christian Ehrhoff, Tanner Glass and Aaron Rome. All choosing to make the coaches jobs harder. For some players on this team their place is set in stone, for others the epic journey continues. In the words of Alain Vigneault “I’m not going to cut players they shall cut themselves”.

In addition, Alain Vigneault was awarded a 3-year contract extension and the Canucks have reduced their roster by nine players.

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One comment for “Ice Wars The Battle For Vancouver”

  1. I am surprised Van is not doing better. But happy none-the-less!
    Go Flames Go!!

    Posted by Club Penguin SecretsNo Gravatar | November 2, 2009, 4:52 am

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