Canucks sign college free agent Kellan Lain, hulking centre and Batman fan

Kellain Lain’s butt. (Photo credit: Rachel Lewis, USCHO.)

The Vancouver Canucks have made the first splash in the 2013 pool of college free agents, beating out other Western Conference suitors like the Ducks, Red Wings and Coyotes to sign massive centre Kellan Lain from Lake Superior State University.

Again, that’s Kellan Lain, not to be confused with Kellan Lutz, the actor who played Emmett Cullen in the Twilight movies. Lain is a hockey player. Lutz is an actor. Remember that for now and for always.

But Lain does have some similarities with Lutz’s vampiric alter ego Emmett Cullen. No, he doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight, but he is a big, intimidating figure, at 6’6′, 222 lbs. Plus, while he’s not a vampire, he’s clearly damned in some way. What do you get when you add the 2 + 2 + 2 that make up Lain’s weight? 6, which means his personal stats are three sixes in a row. Is it just a coincidence that Lain’s height and weight are a thinly-veiled number of the beast? Perhaps. But perhaps not.

Lain does have an evil streak. He had 210 penalty minutes in 108 games in the CCHA, 111 of them in the 32 games of his junior year. His last regular-season game with Lake Superior State University lasted all of 79 seconds, as he made contact to the head of Bowling Green’s Dan Desalvo on a hit in his first shift and was tossed from the game.

While we’re not about to praise a guy for a headshot, it’s an indication that Lain is the nasty sort, and the Canucks, like Janet Jackson, are always down for a little more nasty. Lain isn’t a scorer, but with that size and edge, he could be an effective defensive centre in the NHL. From Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus:

Lain is an older than usual Junior, a 23 year old who turns 24 in July. His main asset is his physical game, at 6′6′’ 222 not only is he tall and strong but tough as well. He’s a big center who can win battles and make opposing defensemen aware of his presence on the ice. He also skates at a decent level for a man his size. Lain doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive upside, notching 39 points over 108 NCAA games, but he does have some defensive value and I think he can stay at center at the pro level. He actually led Lake Superior in face off % this season, winning 56% of his 571 draws. That’s not a great sample, but it is nevertheless intriguing.

Stuart Dixon adds that Lain was one of just four LSSU players to finish with a plus/minus in the plusses. The usual caveat applies: plus/minus isn’t a great stat, especially from game to game. But over the course of a season, it can have some value in terms of identifying who is and isn’t an effective defensive player.

Now, you never quite know how these college projects will pan out — so far, only Chris Tanev and Aaron Volpatti have made an impact as college free agents signed by Mike Gillis — but this one has a fairly clear path ahead of him. Unlike a certain centre whose name rhymes with “Schmody Schmodgson”, Lain is likely to find Vancouver’s depth chart to his liking. (I’d go out on a limb and suggests the club’s relative thinness up the middle factored into his decision to sign in Vancouver.)

The Canucks are currently rocking a top-four of Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Andrew Ebbett, and Maxim Lapierre with very little coming up the pipe behind them. (Jordan Schroeder is a skill guy. Brendan Gaunce is likely still a year or two away.) Worse, Ebbett and Lapierre are free agents at the end of the year. Even if the Canucks acquire a third-line option in the inevitable goalie trade, if Lain can impress in his first half-season with the Wolves, whom he will join early next week, he could conceivably be an option for fourth line next season.

In closing, Lain’s favourite superhero is Batman and his biggest fear is sharks, in case you were wondering.

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  1. real Cam Charron
    March 17, 2013

    plus/minus has zero value in evaluating defensive players.

    it can properly evaluate TWO-WAY players, given a good enough sample size. on it’s own, though, a +2 player can be just as good “defensively” as another +2 player. The caveat is that the first +2 player has been on the ice for 3 goals for and 1 against. The second has been on the ice for 13 goals for and 11 against.

    The first player is the better defensive player.

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  2. shoes
    March 17, 2013

    Well we shall see, I would settle for a mean Alex Burrows that grows with the game.

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  3. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    March 17, 2013

    “While we’re not about to praise a guy for a headshot, it’s an indication that Lutz is the nasty sort,…”

    Hey, no one brought this Lutz guy into the discussion but you guys, so you have no one but yourselves to blame for errors like this.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 18, 2013

      Hahaha incredible. Arrr, I suck at this.

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  4. steveB
    March 17, 2013

    “Schmody Schmodgson”
    He’s got around 24 points, not unlike some guy named Sedin.

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