A couple of days ago, it seemed as though the competition for the fourth line had been settled and that Victor Oreskovich would join Aaron Volpatti and Maxim Lapierre for the Canucks season opener tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Oreskovich however, as AV was quick to point out in camp, had won his spot largely due to default over merit.
If Steve Pinnizzotto had not injured his shoulder in pre-season match with the San Jose Sharks, there’s a very good chance he would have won a spot over Oreo.
So it’s not surprising then that Mike Gillis claimed New York Rangers forward Dale Weise off waivers Tuesday and immediately placed Oreskovich on the wire (he cleared yesterday and will start the season with the Chicago Wolves).
Weise, according to ESPNs Pierre LeBrun, has been on the Canucks radar since last year and had contacted the Rangers over the season but were repeatedly rebuffed.
The 21 year old Winnipeg native offers a few advantages over Oreskovich. He’s younger, has put up more points in the AHL, and seems more willing to drop the gloves than Oreskovich during his career, although he hasn’t won a lot of those fights.
Weise’s breakout season was during 2009-2010 when he popped 28 goals and 50 points for the Hartford Wolfpack, adding 114 penalty minutes. His complete play drew comparisons to Ranger Brandon Dubinsky from Hartford head coach Ken Gernander.
Last season was more of a wash for Weise between injuries and call-ups but he still managed 18 goals and 38 points during his abbreviated AHL stint, improving his points-per-game.
With the organization high on Weise and low on Oreskovich, it’s no surprise then the switch was made.
Their contracts are identical, just over $600k on a two-way, so the move is purely based on perceived skill.
Weise loses a bit of size to Oreskovich but seems more willing to crash and bang, not to mention Weise put up more points in his short stint in the AHL last year than Oreskovich has managed during his entire career.
The knock on Oreskovich is that he’s a one-dimensional physical player who routinely doesn’t take advantage of his physicality, and that on paper doesn’t make for much of a hockey player.
Weise offers some more flexibility on par with perhaps the best Canucks fourth liner of the past few years, the Winnipeg-departed Tanner Glass.