After a seventeen-year hiatus, the Vancouver Canucks finally made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Their third visit provided the same result as the first two: a disappointing second place. But it was sign of promising things to come.
Going into the 2011-2012 season, the Canucks have kept the majority of their core group together. Gone are Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass and Christian Ehrhoff. Apart from Ehrhoff’s offensive production and Torres’ toughness, the Canucks are looking relatively unscathed.
They have also signed a number of new faces. The following is a list of players who will be fighting for a spot on the permanent roster come October.
Marco Sturm – Sturm is a thirty-two-year-old winger from Germany who spent his early NHL career playing for the San Jose Sharks. He was traded to the Bruins in 2005 and stayed there until he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 2010. Last February he was placed on waivers by the Kings and picked up by the Washington Capitals, who he scored one goal for in the playoffs. Sturm has had problems with his knees, resulting in two major surgeries. Sturm’s contract is for one year and will pay him $2.25 million.
Alexander Sulzer – Sulzer hopes to step into the skates of his fellow countryman, Christian Ehrhoff, picking up where Ehrhoff left off on the defensive line. Vancouver sports fans may recognize Sulzer from his appearance at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Sulzer failed to re-sign with the Florida Panthers and was picked up by the Canucks.
The Bloody Knuckled Ivy Leaguer
Byron Bitz – Originally from Saskatoon, Bitz attended Cornell University, where he played four years for the Big Red. In his final season he was honoured with an induction into the Quill and Dagger society (apparently this is kind of a big deal). He signed with Boston and played his first NHL game on January 10, 2009. His passion and fists made him a fan favourite in Boston. The following year he was traded to the Florida Panthers, where he suffered a number of debilitating injuries. The Canucks hope the worst of his physical troubles are behind him.