Free agent defenceman Jim Vandermeer is hoping to join the Vancouver Canucks if there is an end to the National Hockey League lockout.
According to Ben Kuzma of the Province, Vandermeer’s agent Brad Devine had discussions with the Canucks prior to the lockout. League general managers are not allowed to negotiate contracts and trades during the lockout so it remains to be seen if the Canucks are still interested.
Vandermeer feels his toughness would make him an ideal fit with the Canucks.
“We’ve talked a little bit to Vancouver when we could, and it was the same as when we talked to other teams,” Vandermeer said. “We picked the ones who would have a need for a guy like me. Hopefully, when we start talking, they [Canucks] feel the same way.”
This past summer, the Canucks lost the versatile Aaron Rome to free agency after failing to offer him a contract before July 1st. Rome ended signing a three-year deal with the Dallas Stars worth $4.5 million—term and value the Canucks were not about to give to a depth defenceman.
Whether you liked Rome or not, he did provide the Canucks with plenty of versatility. He could play both the left and right sides, power play and penalty kill, log 20-plus minutes a night on occasion, play physical and with toughness, be a puck-mover or a stay-at-home defenceman, and even up front as a left winger.
The Canucks opening night top-six (if there is season) will likely consist of Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Alex Edler, Keith Ballard, and Chris Tanev. Andrew Alberts will be the team’s seventh defenceman, but the Canucks have carried eight defenceman on the roster under head coach Alain Vigneault.
Joslin and Mullen are both candidates for the spot, but their performance in the minors with the Chicago Wolves has been underwhelming so far. Mullen has only skated in two of the team’s 15 games so far this season and has no points.
Kevin Connauton is also a candidate, but the Canucks will likely opt to keep him the minors rather than keeping him as the eighth defenceman if they cannot give him regular ice time.
As Kuzma points out, the Canucks could be taking a defenceman or two back in a potential Roberto Luongo trade as well.
Both Edler and Garrison are still nursing back and groin injuries respectively and it is unclear if both would be ready in the event the lockout ends, so the Canucks may need some bodies on defence. Plus you could never have too much depth.
Vandermeer should be a perfect fit for the Canucks given the parallels between his game and Rome’s. He’s a versatile player with experience at left wing and playing both left and right defence. The characteristic that sets him apart from Rome is his willingness to engage in the fisticuffs and he’s not too bad at it.
The Canucks have tried to get tougher since being outmuscled in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals by the Boston Bruins. They added Zack Kassian last season and Vandermeer will be another piece of the toughness puzzle.
Last season, Vandermeer played in 25 games with the San Jose Sharks on a one-year, $1 million contract.