The Vancouver Canucks lineup for this upcoming is more or less set despite the promise of a ‘reset’ from general manager Mike Gillis.
The lineup appears to breakdown as:
Sedin – Sedin – Kassian
Booth – Kesler – Burrows
Higgins – Schroeder – Hansen
Sestito – Richardson – Weise
Hamhuis – Bieksa
Edler – Garrison
Alberts – Tanev
The only competition appears to be for depth positions on the roster rather than spots in the lineup. The 13th forward, seventh and eighth defence, and backup goaltender position are up for grabs.
The top contenders appear to be Mike Santorelli, Benn Ferrerio, Zach Hamill, Kellan Lain, and Nicklas Jensen at forward. On defence, Yannick Weber is expected to act as the seventh defenceman and Frank Corrado could win a spot in the top-six and force somebody like Andrew Alberts into the eighth position.
The most intriguing battle might be the position of backup to Roberto Luongo.
The Canucks had a succession plan in place for Lack when they signed him to a two-year contract in the summer of 2012.
He was supposed to get his feet wet in the NHL in the first year of the contract, which was two-way, in preparation for assuming the backup position to Cory Schneider in the 2013-14 season on a one-way contract.
A hip flexor injury caused him to struggle out of the gate last season. Lack was eventually pulled from the lineup after posting a 7-4-1 record with a goals against average of 3.00 and a .899 save percentage. Rest did not help the injury and he eventually underwent surgery shortly after the shortened 2012-13 NHL season began.
Lack was unable to make his debut last season and NHL experience would have been a characteristic that would have set him apart from his competition: 23 year old Joacim Eriksson. Both players enter training camp at a level playing field with zero NHL games played and Eriksson could give Lack a run for his money with a hot training camp.
The Canucks might want to have Lack start the season with the Utica Comets as a result of the injury.
Lack missed an entire season of hockey last year for all intents and purposes. They will likely want him to get back into game shape by playing tons of games with the Comets before settling into the backup role.
Eriksson has spent his entire career playing on the bigger ice surface in Europe. He will need to spend some time adjusting to smaller North American ice surface and shooter tendencies.
There’s a good chance Lack starts the season with the Comets and Eriksson starts with the Canucks.
It will be a win-win situation for both players and the team. Lack will get to play tons of games and Eriksson will get plenty practice time with some of the best players in the NHL.
Then again, the Canucks could give Lack the backup position simply of his seniority in the system and contract.
He has spent three years in the organization and is on a one-way contract. If Lack is dispatched to the minors, the Canucks would have to pay him his $850,000 salary in the AHL and Eriksson $925,000 in the NHL.
Eriksson’s salary drops to a paltry $70,000 if he is playing in the AHL. The Canucks have said many times in the past the best players will be with the big club, but when there is a difference of $855,000 in salary, expect contracts to influence decisions.