This season will be an important one for Linden Vey.
Penciled in as the fourth-line centre for the Canucks heading into the regular season, Vey has a lot to prove after signing a one-year, one million dollar deal with the club this summer. The team had high hopes for him when they traded a second-round pick to the Kings for him in the summer of 2014, and his new contract gives Vey another year to show that he be a vital part of the team.
Much was made about Vey’s history with head coach Willie Desjardins throughout last season; Desjardins coached Vey for three years in Medicine Hat of the WHL. Vey was a point-a-game player in the WHL under Desjardins, and scored 158 points in 191 games with Manchester in the AHL.
With the Kings ravaged by injuries at the start of 2013-14 season, Vey was given a chance to play with fellow prospects Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson for a few weeks. Thus, for better of for worse, his career will likely be linked with his Kings’ counterparts for the foreseeable future.
In making those comparisons, one could argue that last year was disappointing for Vey. He started off well, amassing 13 points in his first 22 games with the Canucks. Many of those points came on the power play while flanked by the Sedins and Radim Vrbata as the Canucks started the season with a 4-forward alignment with the man advantage.
For the rest of the season, Vey struggled with his offence, tallying just 11 points over the final 53 games to finish with 24 points in 75 games. He also was inconsistent defensively and a team worst 42.8% in the faceoff circle. He bounced between lines, played both centre and on the wing and appeared in only one of the Canucks’ six playoff games.
Vey worked extremely hard over the summer and has added some bulk to his smallish frame (he’s listed at 6’0, 189 pounds).
As he told Ben Kuzma of the Province:
This is the year I’ve got to prove to myself and everyone that I belong, and be a guy that the organization needs going forward. I’ve gained a lot of strength and that’s the biggest thing I had to work on. It’s winning puck battles and battles down low.
Vey could be an integral player for the team this year. He gives the Canucks good depth in the middle of the ice behind Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter, and Bo Horvat. With Derek Dorsett and newly-acquired Brandon Prust flanking him on the wings, he’ll not only have some protection but he should also get some decent time and space on the ice to make plays.
The Canucks won’t require Vey to light up the goal light and be an offensive superstar. What they will need is for him to be a reliable two-way forward who can play a smooth transition game. In essence, to be exactly how Vey described himself when acquired by the Canucks last summer:
It will be interesting to see if Vey will be able to hold his own against some of the bigger centres in the league (and especially in the Pacific Division). With Desjardins’ penchant for rolling four lines, Vey should get a good opportunity to show his stuff during the first part of the season.
For his sake – and the team’s – I hope he does well.
Besides, I still have a #7 Canucks jersey with David Booth’s name on it that I wouldn’t mind getting re-done.