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Vancouver Canucks right wing Mikael Samuelsson (26) and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (5) chase down the puck in the third period during their preseason NHL hockey game in Anaheim, California October 1, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (MIKE BLAKE)
Vancouver Canucks right wing Mikael Samuelsson (26) and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (5) chase down the puck in the third period during their preseason NHL hockey game in Anaheim, California October 1, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (MIKE BLAKE)

Canucks keep roster flexible Add to ...

For a training camp that wasn't exactly chock full of excitement, the Vancouver Canucks wrapped-up the month-long exercise with plenty of roster activity and some surprising decisions this week.

Their regular-season roster - which was submitted to the NHL on Wednesday, but will change before Saturday's home opener against the Los Angeles Kings - should ultimately include at least two minor-league journeymen and a veteran who hasn't played in the big leagues for three seasons.

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Internally pitted against one of the deepest talent groups in the league, Alexandre Bolduc, Guillaume Desbiens and Peter Schaefer have seemingly earned roles, toppling more-experienced and better-pedigreed players along the way. Defenceman Ryan Parent, acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators this week, may also make Saturday's roster after the Canucks are done complying with the NHL's $59.4-million (U.S.) salary cap with some procedural moves designed to maximize cap relief from Sami Salo's long-term heel injury.

"We built our opening roster to provide us maximum flexibility for the season," assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said.

Bolduc, Jeff Tambellini and Parent are not subject to re-entry waivers, thus can be temporarily sent to Vancouver's Manitoba Moose farm club and be recalled without being exposed. At least two forwards are expected to travel to Winnipeg and back before the puck drops against Los Angeles. Parent could also be at Rogers Arena on Saturday, depending on whether the Canucks keep eight defencemen.

There is also some question as to whether the roster will include the maximum 23 players, or whether it will stop at 22 because Vancouver will be tight to the spending limit.

Schaefer, who last appeared in the NHL for the Boston Bruins in 2007-08, is attending camp on a professional tryout agreement. The former Canucks draft choice was out of hockey last season, and spent 2008-09 in the AHL, and must still sign a contract. But there is little reason to doubt that a two-way deal near the league's minimum salary is in the offing.

The 33-year-old made the team on his ability to kill penalties, and because he suits a third-line role while Alex Burrows (shoulder) is sidelined for at least the first month.

Bolduc's size, physicality and penalty-killing ability paved a path to the fourth-line centre job. He has played just 22 NHL games, but seems to have a fan in head coach Alain Vigneault. Time will tell if Bolduc is a late-bloomer, or just the beneficiary of a good camp and a cheap salary.

The same goes for Desbiens, a hulking winger who is also 25 and has just one NHL game under his belt. Tambellini, 26, brings speed to the table, and is hoping that three 25-goal seasons in the minors finally translates to production at the NHL level, if he's recalled from the AHL.

Along the way, several suitors fell.

After initially impressing, fan favourite and former Canucks centre Brendan Morrison struggled in his final days in camp, and wasn't able to turn his professional tryout into a contract offer. (He's since signed with the Calgary Flames.)

Strapping winger Victor Oreskovich, specifically sought in a draft-day trade with the Florida Panthers, wasn't able to parlay his size and toughness - two elements on Vancouver's check list - into a job.

The same goes for centre Joel Perrault, signed to a one-way contract on the first day of free agency, and top prospect Cody Hodgson, who is recovering from back ailments that limited him for 14 months.

Some of them will get another crack it, but that won't be the case for defenceman Shane O'Brien and enforcer Darcy Hordichuk, two veterans jettisoned in trades this week because they didn't provide bang for the buck.

Hordichuk was sent to the Panthers on Wednesday for tough guy Andrew Peters, who will ply his knuckles in the AHL. O'Brien went to Nashville for Parent.

 

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