Considering the way that Mike Gillis is throwing around invites these days, you’d think he had just discovered Facebook events. Not long after word got out that the Canucks had invited former Bruin Steve Begin to training camp, we learned that Vancouver had reached out to former NHLer Manny Legace as well.

Legace spent last season with Germany’s Iserlohn Roosters, a team that also boasts former NHLers such as Sebastien Caron, Jassen Cullimore, and the Bra-barian himself, Jeff Cowan.

Poor Cowan. He’s lost without Bulis to set him up.

Until the Canucks called him out of nowhere, Legace was set on returning to Europe. From Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily Times, who originally broke the news:

“It’s a big twist, a whole different mindset,” Legace said. “I’ve got to get ready for an NHL camp.”

Legace said on Tuesday that was more than likely heading back to Germany to play this season.

“I was set in trying to find a European job and now it’s a total 180,” Legace said. “It feels really good. We’ve talked to a few teams, but Vancouver came out of the blue. They weren’t even one of the teams we were talking to.”

One wonders if Vancouver invited Legace simply because they felt bad for him, maybe via a Valentine’s Card that read, “I Choo-choo choose you“. They can’t really be all that interested in him, can they?

Like Cowan in the clip above, Legace won’t have a shot unless someone else opens up space. The Canucks are completely set from their NHL starter to their AHL backup. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider have the spots on the big club sewn up, what with that Jennings trophy they won last year. And meanwhile, back at the farm, Eddie Lack is the number one, and Matt Climie looks to be Tyler Weiman’s replacement as the Wolves’ number two.

Provided training camp yields no untimely season-ending injuries, the Canucks’ netminding situation is established.

The hasty assumption, then, is that Legace’s invitation means that Cory Schneider is about to be traded, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. If he was, the Canucks would be signing a goalie, not inviting one to camp.

As of right now, the Canucks likely don’t have a deal on the table to move Schneider. But next month, they might.

And that’s where Legace comes in. The tail end of training camp has become the unofficial third trade window (alongside deadline day and draft day). Last season, the Canucks made more moves there than at any other point in the year. Mike Gillis has said that he won’t deal Cory Schneider unless an offer blows him away, and there’s a distinct possibility that this offer comes during the roster shuffling of early October.

If it does, and the Canucks move Schneider, then a strong showing from Legace at camp means he’ll be offered a contract, barring a goaltender coming back in the deal. As a proven NHL/AHL bubble guy, he’d be able to lead the Wolves or spot Luongo, depending on what the Canuck deem best for Eddie Lack.

Heck, in this scenario, Legace could get a contract with a bad training camp, too. Who’s his competition? After Climie, the Canucks have no one in waiting. Two of the three netminders they’re sending to prospects camp are invitees. The third, 18-year-old David Honzik, is definitely not ready for the pros. If he was, he wouldn’t have fallen to 71st overall in this year’s draft.

When you view Legace as trade insurance, his invite appears a lot more clever than at first glance. He’s the freest insurance they’ll ever get.

More than likely, Schneider isn’t moved. If that’s the case, the Canucks aren’t forced to bury a guaranteed contract, as they would have, had they brought Legace to camp on a one-year deal. Furthermore, as we discovered last week, tryout contracts don’t count towards the 50-contract limit, so Legace’s not even taking up space on the roster.

In effect, if the Canucks start the season with the four goalies that have right now, Legace will be easy to disappear. But if there’s a move, they’ll be glad he’s around.

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  1. SteveB
    September 6, 2011

    “Considering the way that Mike Gillis is throwing around invites these days, you’d think he had just discovered Facebook events.”

    ^SteveB likes this.

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  2. J21
    September 6, 2011

    “The Canucks invite Manny Legace to training camp as free trade insurance”

    No hurry — Canada and the EU still have a ways to go in their free trade negotiations.

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