The Canucks reduced their roster to 29 players today. Among the players sent down to Manitoba were Cory Schneider and Michael Grabner. Very disappointing for both players, considering that Schneider’s competition for the backup job was not very stiff (Andrew Raycroft) and two forward spots opened up with injuries to Pavol Demitra and Jannik Hansen. Hansen broke his hand last night in a fight with Gilbert Brule. For the first time, the word “bust” is being whispered about Grabner. Grabner is the only player taken in the top 18 of the 2006 draft that has yet to play his first NHL game. While it’s disappointing for Schneider also, it’s premature to call him a bust, as goalies typically develop slower than forwards.
So who will be on the opening night roster? Well, of the 29 players remaining, three will be on injured reserve (Demitra, Hansen and Schneider). So that leaves 26 players, meaning that three more players will have to be sent to Manitoba, or in Cody Hodgson’s case, Brampton. Michael Funk and Lawrence Nycholat are virtual guarantees to be sent to Manitoba. Top candidates to be cut include: Cody Hodgson or Tanner Glass. Glass has been a pleasant surprise in the preseason, providing a lot of grit and even the odd goal. I believe the team will want to keep Aaron Rome (at least until Mathieu Schneider returns) and Sergei Shirokov after their impressive preseasons. If they decide to keep Hodgson, it will not be because of his play in the preseason. It will be because they believe he was hampered by his injured back and will keep him with the big club to sit in the press box for the most part. I believe that would be a mistake. The kid simply isn’t ready yet. Don’t buy the argument that “there’s nothing more that he can accomplish in junior” that has been popular lately. He had an excellent season last year in junior, but it was by no means the most dominant season in OHL history, nor did his team win a Memorial Cup. Any junior-aged player that can’t play at the NHL level can still accomplish something in junior. This is not to suggest that Manitoba isn’t the best place for him. It would be nice if the NHL could have some sort of exception for players in Hodgson’s position (three years of major junior and a first round pick).
And now in case you missed how Jannik Hansen broke his hand…
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