When GM Mike Gillis offered Marco Sturm a one year, $2.25 M deal two hours into Free Agency, both parties knew it was an opportunity for redemption.
Over the past three seasons, the Dingolfing, Germany native has averaged less than 50 games a season due to knee injuries. The speedy left winger has made a couple of stops, including Los Angeles and Washington, but never really found his groove. Much was still expected from him after procedures on both knees to repair torn ACL and MCL ligament damage. One can’t help but see similarities between the Mikael Samuelsson signing and the addition of Marco Sturm. Sturm recognizes Gillis was rolling the dice when he offered him a contract. “I wanted the one year contract because they have been rough years and I know that, and I want to prove to myself and everyone else that I can play again,” noted the 8 time 20-goal scorer. “As long as I stay healthy and get back into the shape I was in before, I’m really confident that I can really help the team out and score a lot of goals. I want to be one of the top players like I was before.”
Sturm’s “staying healthy” was in reference to a string of injuries that have hampered the speeding, playmaking winger. Trouble started in 2003-04 during a career season when he was injured, then required left knee surgery midway through the 2008-09 season. During the first game of the Eastern conference semifinal a year ago, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee, which required surgery.
“Even last year when I came back, I could tell that I was just not ready,” lamented Sturm, who was upset when placed on waivers after scoring 4 goals in 17 games with the Kings. “For me now, it’s a huge difference. I’m working out pretty hard and it doesn’t affect anything on my knees. I’m pretty excited to be healthy again… Like 10 years before I got hurt and do everything I could before.”
Gillis commented on the move to bring in Sturm despite his medical history that incited other teams to give up on him. “It’s a bit of a gamble, but we checked it out thoroughly. As long as it’s a short-term deal, we can kick the tires and see how he does. He goes into the tough areas and is a very strong skater and gives us some versatility.”
No matter the gamble, it appears Gillis has signed a very motivated individual that wants to play Canuck hockey. “Vancouver was pressuring pretty hard, but as soon as I heard it was going to be the Canucks, I still think it’s the best team in the league, and for me there were no other choices. It was an easy decision.”
Canuck Free Agency notes: Both Alex Bolduc and Rick Rypien have signed with Phoenix and Winnipeg. Gillis has $4.6 M to sign restricted free agents Jannik Hansen (who could file for arbitration) and Victor Oreskovich, and add defensive depth. That projected cap space doesn’t include Chris Tanev or Cody Hodgson, which could indicate a trade for top six help could be imminent.