The Canucks have trimmed the training cam roster yet again this morning, reassigning defenceman Kevin Connauton to the Chicago Wolves and releasing forward Steve Begin outright. As usual, PITB is here to break down the cuts, and as usual, these ones are pretty easy to explain.

The morning after scoring the lone Canucks’ goal in Saturday night’s loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Kevin Connauton finds himself en route to Chicago. He said so himself:

Connauton’s an interesting case, especially since, offensively, he’s NHL ready. At the Young Stars tournament, Wolves’ coach Craig MacTavish raved about him:

You have a kid with that skill set, a highly intelligent kid, a highly determined kid, I’d bet on that, that he’s in on the discussion at the end among the Canucks coaches and managers whether he’s going to stay or not.”

Connauton’s been reassigned with four games to go in the preseason. Was MacTavish wrong about him? No, not really. There are plenty of NHL teams on which Connauton might already be a starter, and many more on which he would have been in the discussion for much longer than he was here.

But, as it stands, he isn’t making an Alain Vigneault-run team. Vancouver scored a lot of goals last season, but I can tell you that Vigneault was prouder still at the fact that they allowed the fewest. He remains a defense-first coach, the Canucks remains a defense-first team, and when it comes to prospects, the offensive side of their game will always be held against their ability to defend. Please, please, please remember this the next time the Canucks don’t call a guy up the moment he scores a hat trick for the Wolves.

Connauton has the tools to be a formidable two-way defenseman at the NHL level, but he has yet to show that he can be an NHL defenseman proper. The good news? He already boasts a skillset you can’t teach. He just needs to improve on the stuff that can be learned.

When Steve Begin‘s tryout contract was announced, we speculated that he might be able to provide some additional depth at the centre position. Unfortunately, he never really got a chance to support the claim.

Begin played in the away portion of the Canucks’ split-suqad adventure with the Calgary Flames, but he was sidelined with back problems immediately after. When it became apparent that he wouldn’t be able to get into a game this weekend, the Canucks had no choice but to cut him. The veterans return to the lineup next week; the tryout portion of the preseason is effectively over, and Begin missed it.

You’ve got to feel for the guy. It’s going to be tough to get an NHL job anywhere when no one got a chance to see him play.

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