Vancouver - September 24, 2014 - The NHL Preseason is underway and for Linden Vey of the Vancouver Canucks this means a whole new world and an opportunity in Vancouver to finally crack an NHL lineup. In the summer Vey was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks for the 50th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, a move that could end up being the best of Vey's young career as he makes the move from California to Canada.
In Los Angeles Vey had fallen behind a sea of great young players in the Kings deep system of prospects. This depth kept the highly skilled but slight of frame Vey saddled in the AHL and unable to crack the Kings lineup. Despite his high skill, Vey is an undersized forward who has spent his entire career being passed over by bigger, well-rounded forwards in the Kings system that have helped contribute to the success of the Kings in recent years. The Kings built a team that is hard to play against, intimidating and able to take over games with a combination of size and skill, Vey has the skill, but he didn’t have the grittiness needed to crack the lineup in LA.
In Vancouver there is an incredible opportunity for Vey to not only make the Canucks, but have an immediate impact this season. The Canucks are caught somewhere between a rebuild and a retooling, and have a need for offensive contributors on all but the first line. Linden Vey has a unique opportunity as he has spent three full seasons in the AHL working on his game against men; this experience may give him a leg up on the other young players in the Canucks system.
For Vey the most important impact he has to make is offensively as he has struggled in his limited opportunities in the NHL to show the level of production he has shown in the AHL. But maybe more importantly for Vey is that he has to show a willingness to commit defensively and a willingness to grind it out and not be pushed around by the bigger bodies on the ice. He must show an ability to compete, and last night as the Canucks opened up their preseason with a game against the San Jose Sharks it was Vey who came out with a great start on the offensive side of the puck. Vey scored one goal and added two assists as the Canucks took downed the Sharks 4-2. This was a great start for Vey who will no doubt be going deep in camp, and if he can continue to use his playmaking abilities and get his name on the score sheet he could be forcing his way onto the Canucks opening night roster.
It is important to remember this was the first preseason game, Elliotte Friedman just tweeted out that teams don’t put much stock in performances until the second week of training camps when rosters start to resemble what they will be on opening night. Nonetheless for Vey it is vital he shows a willingness to engage and a capability to contribute offensively early on in camp and last night he did just that with fellow youngster Hunter Shinkaruk alongside him, contributing to the offensive production last night. The Canucks are going to be searching for secondary scoring this season and Vey had a great opening preseason game to build some confidence in that regard. The games will get harder and more interesting as we move forward, and for Vey he needs to ensure that he doesn’t shy away from the increased intensity of the games moving forward and prove that he can continue to his playmaking abilities to create chances for himself and his line mates. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Vey, and both Vancouver and Vey are hoping beyond hope he seizes the opportunity and wins the day.