As a person gets up to switch chairs, they're more likely to lose a chair. But for Ryan Shannon, his version of musical chairs gives him a small advantage as he tries to secure a long-term position with the Canucks.
“[Being able to play several positions] makes me a more versatile player and possibly fill in spots as the season goes on,” Shannon said.
In Monday’s pre-season game against the Ducks, Shannon saw time on the point on the first power play unit. Coach Alain Vigneault said he was impressed with Shannon's versatility, and will continue to play him there tonight.
Shannon will likely center a line with Jannik Hansen and Michael Grabner as the Canucks battle the Flames.
“I haven’t played center at the NHL level, I played a little bit in Portland and I played a few years at Boston College as center,” Shannon recalls. “I feel comfortable there. There are different responsibilities: I’m going to be called to play more D-zone, so that’s something I can concentrate on.”
Shannon scored 51 goals during his four-year career at Boston College. He'll be counted on to score even more in Vancouver if he makes the opening night roster.
“Tonight we’re going to try him at in the center position,” said Vigneault. “Being versatile as a player is a bonus, it’s something that all organizations look for, so we’ll see what he can do in the middle and we’ll try him on the power play up front.”
THE NEW 3 MUSKETEERS
Finding the perfect linemates for Markus Naslund has been a work in progress, as the captain has seen no less than ten different linemates in the past season. Fortunately, Ryan Kesler and Taylor Pyatt hope to use big bodies to find themselves a permanent spot next to Naslund come October 5.
“It’s eminent that when you play with a big guy you get more room and I think that both those guys can play a physical game and open up a lot,” said Naslund.
Not only will Kesler and Pyatt create space for Naslund, but also, the speed and soft hands should create some stealthy plays and signature offence.
“We have a lot of speed,” Naslund said. “Both of them can skate. Pyatt can skate for a big man and I think he’s done really well in camp and I think he’s going to take another step. Kesler is hungry to get back for a healthy year. So, I’m going to try to keep up.”
Last season, Kesler and Naslund were paired up in hopes of generating some much-needed offence. Unfortunately, Kesler was only able to produce 16 points (6-10-16) when his season was cut short by an injury and Naslund finished with 60 points (24-36-60).
While it took Naslund and former linemates, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison, a few years to get into their groove, Naslund is optimistic that this lineup can help him get back to numbers similar to those in the 2002-2003 season, where he recorded a career high 104 points (48-56-104).
This season Pyatt is ready to step up as the Canucks search for the next big body. With 37 points from the previous season, there are high hopes that this year’s performances will reach beyond that.
“It’s going to be fun with Naslund and Kesler. We’ve got some great speed, so we’ll try to create as much offense as we can and get a power play goal,” Pyatt said.
“Tonight we get to see Markus with Ryan and Taylor, and I’m anxious to see what results we can get from that trio,” said Vigneault.
SAMPLE OF TALENT
Two years ago Pierre-Cedric Labrie was an "unknown" playing junior hockey in small-town Quebec.
Tonight he'll play in his first NHL game tonight as the Calgary Flames visit GM Place.
An impressive year with Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL got him noticed with the Canucks organization. His success earned him a contract with Vancouver this summer.
At 6’2, 212 pounds, Labrie’s size, strength, and skill are the features that made him stand out. Though he can play a fairly rough game, this gentle giant’s soft hands can produce some impressive numbers. He had a career best season in 2005-2006 recording 86 points in 54 games. Last year, he had an equally impressive 63 points in 68 games with Baie-Comeau.
“I have to play a physical game, dominate in the corner, and play with intensity,” said Labrie about tonight’s game.
He will once again skating on an ultra-gritty line with Matt Cooke and Alex Burrows.
“At the end of the intra-squad game, the best line we had was Labrie, Burrows, and Cooke,” Vigneault said. “So, put those three guys together, it’s more of a grinding line, and we’ll see what they can do tonight against NHL competition.”
Training Camp Info
5 - Players who played Monday and will play tonight
3 - Points from players on tonight's roster who played Monday (McIver, Shannon, Burrows)
7 - Years difference between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider
14 - Years between the oldest and youngest players on tonight's roster (Naslund, 34; Grabner, 20)
"I think just studying [Roberto Luongo] during the game. It'll be good for when I go in but it's a tough act to follow so hopefully, I'll do my best." - Cory Schneider on playing after Luongo.
"It's baby steps, I know all eyes are on everybody right now and really under the microscope. I don't feel comfortable yet, I'm not satisfied and I look forward to the next games coming up." - Ryan Shannon on his comfort level.
Morning Skate and Press Conference