Always a bridesmaid, never a bride? Not this time.
It seems like it was only yesterday that the Canucks lost out on the Justin Schultz sweeps, and as a fan of the Canucks it is the type of thing you have come to expect. That’s not to say that they’ve never gotten a coveted free agent, I mean they did land Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malhotra a few years ago.
They were also able to land Jason Garrison last season, but it just seems like there’s a level of “Oh? Coveted free agent out of college? Hmm, no chance with the Canucks” that goes on when these type of things happen.
I’ll admit, when I first heard about the Canucks interest in Lake Superior State Lakers center Kellan Lain I didn’t hold out hope that he would be a Canuck at the end of the process. Thanks for souring me on that one, Schultz, ya bastard.
But, here I am, eating crow now that the Canucks and Lain agreed to a one-year deal on Friday. Crow tastes awful by the way, even when you don’t mind eating it for the great good of your favorite team.
I’ll be honest, until I heard the Canucks had interest in Lain I had no idea who he was. I will never say that I diligently follow college hockey, because I don’t. But after hearing the team was interested in a 6’6, 220lb center my interests had peaked to say the least, so naturally I looked into what kind of player he was, what his skill set was and what he could potentially do for the team.
When I finished reading about Lane I definitely had my hopes up.
According to Cory Pronman of Hockey Prospectus:
Lain is an older than usual Junior, a 23 year old who turns 24 in July. His main asset is his physical game, at 6′6′’ 222 not only is he tall and strong but tough as well.
He’s a big center who can win battles and make opposing defensemen aware of his presence on the ice. He also skates at a decent level for a man his size. Lain doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive upside, notching 39 points over 108 NCAA games, but he does have some defensive value and I think he can stay at center at the pro level.
He actually led Lake Superior in face off % this season, winning 56% of his 571 draws. That’s not a great sample, but it is nevertheless intriguing.So obviously the first thing that jumps out at you is his size.
The guy is a monster, AND a center? Yes please.
He also wins face-offs and plays to his size, something the Canucks could really use. What doesn’t jump out is the lack of offense he brings, 39 points in 108 NCAA games doesn’t make you jump out of your seat and take a swing at someone, but it doesn’t appear that this signing is meant to add scoring depth, but add in a position of great weakness.
Having said that, we would be fools to assume that Lain comes in and runs away with a roster spot. What will actually happen is he’ll join the Chicago Wolves soon and play out his one-year contract with them.
Should he impress the Canucks management then he could be called up and used as a fourth line center.
The Canucks also announced today that they’ve signed winger Ludwig Blomstrand to an entry level deal. Blomstrand, 20, was drafted by the Canucks in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Though he isn’t a coveted college free agent, it’s nice to see the Canucks lock up some of their draft picks.
Blomstrand is a 6’1, 198lbs left-winger who spent this season in Sweden’s second-tier league. While I don’t know a ton about him, I was able to find this little bit from Cory Pronman.
Blomstrand is a decent lower-role player, but I didn’t really see much in terms of skill from at the Under-18′s.
So take it for what its worth; a decent lower-role player. Who knows, sometimes players like this turn out to be a diamond in the rough. That or they don’t pan out at all.
Lets hope for the Canucks sake he pans out.