The Vancouver Canucks have added another NHL veteran to their mix of forwards.
The Canucks signed winger Byron Bitz to a two-way contract Monday that pays him $700,000 U.S. at the NHL level. The 27-year-old from Saskatoon missed last season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in October, and experiencing complications in his recovery.
Previously, Bitz played 87 NHL games for the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers, and 104 American Hockey League games, after a four-year college career at Cornell University.
At training camp, Bitz is likely to vie for playing time on the fourth line, which lost Tanner Glass to the Winnipeg Jets in free agency. Glass had been a staple on the fourth unit for the last two years, although the emergence of Victor Oreskovich made him expendable this summer. Players such as Aaron Volpatti, Andrew Ebbett and others who don’t crack the top three lines will also be in the mix to skate a wing on the fourth line.
Bitz also fits Vancouver’s criteria to get bigger. He is 6-foot-5 and 215 lbs., and could make for an imposing flank with Oreskovich, who is 6-foot-3 and 215 lbs.
It should also be noted that Bitz comes from an Ivy League school, and that the Canucks under general manager Mike Gillis have long been enamored with players who have strong scholastic backgrounds, because they believe such players have the tools to understand what it takes to succeed in hockey, and in life.