Battle to be the Physical Depth Winger:
Derek Dorsett vs. Darren Archibald
Derek Dorsett has always been rather small to play the style of game that he plays. He’s no more than six-foot tall and is a shade under 200 pounds. Especially after last season’s neck surgery, Dorsett can’t be too far from meeting former Canuck Brandon Prust‘s fate as a rather small grinder who no longer has a place in the NHL as a 30-year-old tough guy.
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Enter Darren Archibald, the six-foot-four 27-year-old winger who led the Utica Comets in scoring last year with 23 goals and 47 points in 76 games.
Archibald won’t be even close to becoming a scoring threat in the NHL. He has had just 16 games at NHL level, all with the Canucks, and has just three NHL points in his entire career.
It should be surprising for many that he was not among the ten players sent back to Utica this past weekend. Archibald was almost always sent back to the AHL at that point in camp and in the past three+ years has not seen NHL time.
But this season with his former Utica coach Travis Green now behind Vancouver’s bench, Archibald may have his last sliver of hope of being an NHL player. He will most likely have to beat Derek Dorsett to the job, only to be a healthy scratch on most nights, especially if Jake Virtanen’s physicality makes the Canucks.
Dorsett had two hits in the first preseason game against the Kings. Albeit against weaker opponents, Archibald had four hits and four shots against Vegas and followed that up with four more shots against Calgary and four more hits against Edmonton to go along with two more SOGs.
Archibald has all the reasons to beat Dorsett to the job. He is younger, bigger, more aggressive, and even cheaper, cheap and developed enough to be fine as a healthy scratch on many nights.
Dorsett, however, is a veteran who will be extremely difficult to trade (unless the Canucks take back significant salary, perhaps?) and very troubling to put on waivers. A short stint in the AHL to get his hockey sense back after a huge surgery might not be bad for Dorsett, though.