With Aaron Rome close to returning to game action, Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault is going to have plenty of options when it comes to his defence.
Rome would give the Canucks eight healthy blueliners, which is okay roster wise because they are only carrying one extra forward (Andrew Ebbett). With that being said, it’s not easy to keep guys happy who aren’t playing all the time.
Right now Alex Sulzer appears to have bumped Andrew Alberts out of a starting job and considering that he can play the right side it’s not a guarantee that Rome will step right in when he’s ready to go.
Vigneault doesn’t seem to trust Alberts or Ballard on the right side and Rome has usually been a left side guy as well. It’s conceivable Rome could replace Ballard in the lineup, as Vigneault seems to like the bigger, more dependable D-man.
I will say this about Ballard though: he is fun to watch. He’s always looking to make something happen and is not afraid to take chances.
Vigneault could base his decision on the opponent as well. If the Canucks are playing a team with bigger forwards then Rome could step in, as he’s strong enough to pin guys to the boards. If it’s a more up-tempo game he’s looking for, then Ballard – and his great skating ability – could be the choice.
We shouldn’t forget about Chris Tanev, either. He was a victim of the numbers game earlier this season and was sent down to Chicago essentially because he didn’t have to clear waivers. The Canucks felt if they tried to waive Alberts or Sulzer, they would either get plucked or have to be buried in the minors. There is no chance one or both of those guys wouldn’t be claimed on re-entry, as a team would only be on the hook for half their salary.
It’s not the last we’ll hear from the young, talented Tanev, as he’ll undoubtedly be back with the big club sometime this season and could get playoff reps once again. It’s good to have options, I guess; you can never have enough healthy D-men.
You have to feel for Canucks forward Steve Pinizzotto. Here’s a guy who, despite never having played an NHL game, was pursued by nine NHL teams in free agency. He picked the Canucks because he felt there could be a spot open because of the departures of Tanner Glass and Raffi Torres.
Pinizzotto had himself a good camp and it looked like he was going to win a roster spot until he hit that tank on skates, Douglas Murray, in a pre-season game and injured his shoulder.
Enter Aaron Volpatti (and Dale Weise for that matter) into the fourth line equation. Volpatti, to his credit, has stepped in and played very well with the opportunity he was given. And the fourth line has been one of the few early positive stories for the Canucks. Unfortunately for Pinizzotto it doesn’t look like Vigneault will be busting up that fourth line anytime soon. And even worse for Pinizzotto, he tweaked his shoulder at practice on Monday and did not travel with the team on their six-game road trip as was initially planned. Here’s hoping it’s just a minor setback and we see the 27-year old fulfill his dream of playing in the NHL sooner rather than later.