As the Canucks center’s continue to drop like flies, management has been grasping at straws for an immediate response to this recent run of injuries down the middle. And according to Sportsnet, they may have found their answer in 38-year old forward, Vinny Prospal.
— Sportsnet Pacific (@SNETPacific) January 24, 2014
The 16-year veteran of the NHL has yet to play hockey this season, and as per the above tweet he will have to start on a PTO with the Canucks AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets. In Prospal’s 1108 games, he amassed 255 goals and 510 assists for a total 765 points alongside his career -57.
While Prospal’s prolonged off-season could make it harder for him to hit the ground running, the fact that he was never that good of a skater and has spent several years playing for Tortorella in Tampa Bay and New York might just as easily make that a moot point. Prospal and Tortorella’s paths last crossed in New York as members of the Rangers in 2011; all in all Prospal has played about five seasons under Torts.
According to Columbus Blue Jackets beat reporter, Aaron Portzline, the two have a “love/hate relationship”, which is about as good as anyone could hope for when considering the two fiery personalities in play.
In Prospal’s last season with Columbus, he tallied 12 goals and 18 assists, for a total of 30 points.
Prospal’s underlying numbers are equally impressive, as he was a +2.3% rel. Corsi on a bad possession team, playing against relatively good competition. Of considerable importance to the Canucks is Prospal’s power play experience; he played just under 3mins a game on the power play last season with Columbus and had a none-too-shabby
Has Dan Hamhuis‘ reign of terror on the first unit come to end? Yeah, probably not, but it was nice to dream for a second.
The impetus for this decision was likely the uncertainty surrounding the timeline of Mike Santorelli‘s recovery from injury. But based on what little information we have, and the now imminent signing of Prospal, it could be a while before we see Santo again.
When it’s all said and done points have to be given to Canucks management for creativity here. They lack the desire to trade any of their new pieces in the prospect pipeline, a wealth of cap space and are saddled with no-trade clauses throughout their roster.
Picking up offensive help through any means other than free agency would have proven difficult, and realistically there’s no reason to complain with what they did find there.
This is a low-risk high-reward type deal, and based on Prospal’s production last season and his history with Torts, it just might work out.