Four battles to watch heading into Canucks training camp

It’s the start of training camp, which means it’s time for rampant speculation. Who will shine in the pre-season? Who will fall flat on their faces? Which player will excel, looking to have a spot sewn up, then get a brutal injury in the final game of the pre-season and never play for the Canucks again?

The truth is that we have no earthly idea what’s going to happen, particularly in this coming training camp and pre-season. Thanks to the off-season shake-up both on and off the ice, my Canucks-branded Magic 8-Ball keeps returning “Reply hazy, try again.” Admittedly, that’s better than when it was telling me, “You know what to do: burn ‘em all!”

Here are four training camp battles to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

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Eddie Lack’s bandaged finger indicates some sort of finger injury [Video]

When Eddie Lack was invited to play for Team Sweden at the upcoming Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk, Belarus, he was understandably excited. He called it a “dream come true” on Twitter, which makes sense. Just four years ago, Lack was a backup in the Swedish Elite League (behind his new backup, Jacob Markstrom) and putting on the blue and yellow to represent his country must have seemed like an unreachable fantasy.

Regrettably, it turned nightmarish just a week later when he had to pull out of the tournament due to injury. What injury, you ask? That’s the thing: we don’t know.

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How big a role will Frank Corrado play for the Canucks this season?

One of the main concerns I’ve heard from Canucks fans about Frank Corrado starting the season in the NHL is what it will do to his development. The thinking is that Corrado would be better served playing 20+ minutes per night in the AHL with the Comets than playing third-pairing minutes with the Canucks.

It’s an understandable concern, particularly when you look at how John Tortorella deployed his defencemen in New York. His top defenceman — Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal when he was healthy — played big minutes, averaging 23+ minutes per night. His bottom pairing, however, saw far fewer minutes. While Anton Stralman oscillated between 10 and 20 minutes throughout the season, the Rangers other defenceman averaged under 13 minutes per game.

With Corrado assumed to be sixth at best on the depth chart, he might end up with minimal minutes in his first professional season, which would be far from ideal. But there’s reason to believe that Tortorella won’t be deploying the defence in the same way he did with the Rangers and, if Corrado makes the opening night roster, he may be in for a lot more ice time than expected.

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Steve Montador on waivers; might the Canucks be interested?

The Chicago Blackhawks placed veteran defenceman Steve Montador on waivers Monday, a testament to how quickly things can change in the NHL. 21 months ago, just two days before Montador was set to hit unrestricted free agency, the Blackhawks were so desperate to have him that they gave the Buffalo Sabres a draft pick in exchange for his negotiating rights. But now they’re giving him away for free.

Expect to hear Montador’s name bandied about the Lower Mainland until Tuesday’s waiver deadline, because there are a few reasons that Montador would be an appealing claim. He’s a right-handed defenceman, for one, and the lefty-heavy Canucks could use one of those. Plus, he’s from Vancouver.

These are the same reasons Montador appeared to be a fit two years ago when he was headed for free agency. But a lot has changed since then to make acquiring Montador much more problematic, largely because the Blackhawks got involved in the first place.

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Talking heads stop making sense in Roberto Luongo trade speculation

If you’ve been easing yourself back into Canucks coverage, there’s a good possibility you’ve missed something amidst the batcrap insanity that this Roberto Luongo storyline has managed to become. Yes, we’ve only been back since Sunday, but there have already been so many developments in this Snakes-and-Ladders saga that keeping track of everything is next to impossible.

It began the moment the new CBA was announced. Immediately, hockey fans and media washed their hands of that unfortunate diversion and picked right back up where we left off: speculating tirelessly on Roberto Luongo’s next destination. And I do mean tirelessly. We’ve heard a lot about the soon-to-be-announced compressed schedule, but the real story of this week has been the compressed baseless speculation. In what can only be interpreted as a collective bid by the hockey world to make up for lost wasted time, these last five days have been like an episode of American Horror Story: flashbacks; flash forwards; nuns possessed by Satan; Nazi doctors; a murderer that wears a mask made of human skin; Adam Levine; aliens; zombies; a psychotic Santa; a woman that thinks she’s Anne Frank.

All of these things and Tyler Bozak have been rumoured to be part of a package for Luongo.

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Brian Burke fired as Leafs GM: this (might) change everything

In what can only be described as a flabbergastingly shocking move, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired Brian Burke as their General Manager. Go ahead, try to describe it as anything else. I’ll wait.

What’s truly bizarre is that they waited this long to make the move, firing Burke after he played an instrumental role representing the Leafs in the CBA negotiations and just before training camp is set to open. If Leafs ownership were unhappy with the results from the past few seasons (and why wouldn’t they be), then why allow Burke to work through the free agency period, putting his stamp on the team for another season?

Unless, and this is pure, rampant speculation, this has something to do with Roberto Luongo?

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Marlies visit to Abbotsford draws Canucks’ brass, perchance on Luongo trade scouting mission?

On Wednesday, Daniel rolled out a novel mindset that might allow even the bitterest of Canucks fans to cheer for the Abbotsford Heat while still thumbing his nose at the Northwest Division rival Calgary Flames. The worse the Flames are, the better the Heat will be, Daniel espoused.

But there are other reasons for Canuck fans to take in Abbotsford contests besides Schadenfreude from concentrate. As strange as it sounds for a game that features 50% future Flames, a trip to the city in the country might also yield a glimpse into the future of the Vancouver Canucks, and I’m not just talking about when the Chicago Wolves come to visit.

For example: the Toronto Marlies are in Abbotsford this Thursday and Friday, and if the rumours surrounding Roberto Luongo’s future are to be believed, then at least one or two players currently suiting up for the Marlies — Toronto’s best professional sports team, by the way — should become Vancouver property shortly after the lockout ends.

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What does the Anders Lindback trade mean for Cory Schneider’s value?

After Dwayne Roloson’s disastrous performance last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning desperately needed to acquire a goalie in the offseason. In fact, Tampa Bay was one of the top destinations for a potential Roberto Luongo trade, according to a legion of armchair GMs. After all, Luongo has family in Florida, right? It made perfect sense.

Instead, Steve Yzerman went a completely different route and traded for Anders Lindback of the Nashville Predators, Pekka Rinne’s still-unproven backup, to fill their number one spot. The trade has ramifications for both Canucks goaltenders: first, it removes a potential destination for Luongo, and second, it sets the bar for Cory Schneider’s trade value.

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Jeff Tambellini Is Pretty Accurate From There

Sometimes, Jeff Tambellini gets the puck in his Magic Shooty Spot, an hypermagical vortex of wonder just above the dot by the right side boards, wherefrom a Tambellini shot equals instant goalification. No one knows why he possesses a connection to this glorious patch of universe, but legend has it, one night, Tambellini dreamt of [...]

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