Canucks Roster Decisions
Continuing in the conversation of surprising training camp performances of first round picks, Niklas Jensen has also been turning a few heads this preseason.
The 18 year old Dane has already secured his first pro contract and as of yet has not been returned to Oshawa Generals.
Jensen has certainly made the most of his first training camp and may very well be playing in his first career NHL game October 9.
Much like Jordan Schroeder, and to a lesser extent Cody Hodgson, Jensen may have an opportunity afforded by injuries. Byron Bitz has been sidelined with a groin injury all of camp while Steve Pinizzotto dislocated his shoulder in a preseason match with the Sharks earlier this week.
Still, Oreskovich, Volpatti, Duco, and Mancari remain very much in the mix to line-up on the wings.
While Jensen may not be the traditional type of player Vigneault loves for his fourth line, the Vancouver Canucks coach’s comments seem to indicate the young power forward may have a leg up on his competition.
Vigneault has gone on record as being displeased by Oreskovich’s efforts during camp and concerned about the quality of Mancari’s skating. He has however not been shy to pump Jensen’s tires, stating simply that he “loves him” and feels Jensen possesses tremendous upside and work ethic.
In the same breath, Vigneault also mentioned the ethos that will determine Jensen’s immediate future; that of the responsibility to develop him along the right paths towards determining his full potential. The Vancouver Canucks hold the benefit of not being forced into rushing Jensen into the line-up.
While Jensen’s play thus far may have earned a roster spot on a bottom feeding club, the Canucks are so deep at forward that it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Jensen sticks with the team the entire year, especially if he burns a year of his entry level deal playing limited minutes between visits to the press box.
It wouldn’t be a beneficial scenario to the long-term success of either party.
More likely, with the fourth line still in flux and the possibility of injuries ever present, Jensen will find himself in a few games to start the year before being returned to Oshawa.
Jensen will get some more time to train with a professional club and view the habits of the veterans, while the Canucks get a bit more time to see exactly what they might have in a few years.