The Canucks trimmed their training camp roster by 11 players today, and as usual, PITB is here to break down every cut. What that in mind, here’s a detailed look at the factors that led to Corrado, Polasek, Schneider, Clackson, Longpre, and Legace getting bounced from the training camp roster.
Adam Polasek endeared himself to fans with a fight during the Young Stars tournament in which he broke the nose of Oilers’ prospect Colton Teubert. He endeared himself to the Canucks’ coaching staff with smart, hard-nosed (pun fully intended) shutdown defense and flashes of two-way potential. If he continues to improve, Polasek could reasonably develop into a heady, gritty, middle pairing blueliner.
He’s not there yet. As it stands right now, he simply isn’t fast enough for the NHL and I’m not just referring to footspeed. Polasek could stand to develop a smoother stride, to be certain, but the Canucks’ coaching staff spoke to him primarily about increasing the speed with which he does everything. As well as skating, Polasek needs to work at the quickness with which he cuts off angles, retrieves pucks in the corners, and makes passes.
He’s a smart player, and if he has the time, he tends to make the right play. That said, there isn’t much time at the NHL level, and his decision-making is far too slow to handle the immediacy with which NHL forecheckers arrive at the doorstep. In this regard, a year in the AHL will do him some good. If he can pick up the pace, he could reasonably see callup duty as early as next season.
In Penticton, Stefan Schneider showed that he was a decent stickhandler for such a big man (he’s 6’4″, 204 lbs), but any chance he had of further displaying his hands went up in smoke when he broke one of them in practice on Monday. Now he’ll be out four to six weeks, and he’ll have to start from scratch in Chicago.
He wasn’t going to make the team anyway, and he won’t until he gets a little stronger. Schneider may not have much natural offensive talent, but he has natural immenseness. Therefore, the task when he returns to the Wolves’ lineup will be developing the muscle to accompany his size. He may be listed at 6’4″, but he looks about 6’6″, and that long, lean frame could do some serious damage if he filled it out and learned how to throw it around. In 47 games with the Manitoba Moose last season, Schneider had nine penalty minutes. You can’t be a shrinking violet at 78 inches. If Schneider wants to make the NHL — and he could, reasonably, as a David Steckel type, he’ll have to show that he can crash and bang with the regulars at the bottom of an NHL depth chart.
Matt Clackson, who racked up 574 penalty minutes over four AHL seasons, was a longshot to make the fourth line. At camp on a tryout, it was going to take a standout performance from the former Philadelphia Phantoms’ pest to get a longer look, and it didn’t happen. With guys such as Mike Duco, Steven Pinizzotto and Owen Nolan outperforming him, there simply wasn’t room for Clackson.
That said, he hasn’t been released outright. Clackson will continue his tryout with the Chicago Wolves, where he’ll be fighting (probably literally) to earn a contract either with the Canucks proper or, more likely, with the affiliate on their own. The Canucks likely aren’t going to be willing to use up one of their 50 contracts on Clackson, but I’d be willing to wager the Wolves want some guaranteed toughness on the roster, especially with the revolving door the Canucks tend to have on their fourth line.
Nathan Longpre, too, has been released to the Wolves after coming to camp on a tryout. The speedy centre impressed at the Young Stars tournament, earning himself an invite to main camp and setting off speculation that he might be in line for an entry-level deal. However, he was only so-so in his first NHL preseason game, and some of the lustre surrounding him appears to have worn off. That said, it bodes well for him that, rather than release him outright, the Canucks chose to send him to Wolves’ camp. A strong showing there could still earn him a deal with either organization.
He’ll be in tough, though. Longpre isn’t a bottom-six guy, and if this preseason has shown us one thing, it’s that the Canucks have some promising skill guys in the system. He’ll need to pick up his play in order to stick with the Wolves.
Frankie Corrado clearly impressed in his brief run with the Canucks. While he isn’t ready for the NHL (especially when it comes to strength, which he lacks), the team is no doubt high on him, especially as a puck-mover. Prior to reassigning him to the OHL’s Subdury Wolves, the Canucks signed him to his entry-level contract.
It’s no surprise the Canucks were so quick to make his spot within the organization official. In his first, brief taste of NHL action, he frequently looked better than defenders well ahead of him on the depth chart, such as Yann Sauve and Kevin Connauton. On Thursday night, he even was given a spot on the top powerplay unit ahead of Sauve.
Corrado’s still got plenty of development to do, but he could turn out to be the steal of the draft.
And finally, let’s talk about Manny Legace.
Earlier this month, I speculated that Manny Legace was in camp as free trade insurance, primarily in case someone made an intriguing offer for one Cory Schneider. Later on, we realized that he was also (or only) here to pad out the number of veterans the Canucks iced for the opening three games.
Did Legace ever have a real shot at earning a contract? Probably not, but any remote chance he did have disappeared when Eddie Lack showed that last year was no fluke and invitee Karel St. Laurent established himself as a quality netminder and earned himself a longer look with the Canucks, and now the Wolves. Lack’s performance solidifies the Canucks’ suspicion that they’re three-deep at the goaltending position, and now, with Climie and Karel St. Laurent battling for the backup spot, there’s simply no room for Legace.