Is Linden Vey the Odd Man Out?

As the current Canucks roster stands, there will be lots to sort out down the forward lineup for 2016-17. With depth forward spots in particular, it’s a blurry thought for Canucks fans to make out which players will be best suited for different roles.

Okay, Derek Dorsett is a fourth-line winger – most can accept and certainly appreciate that. One other clear role might be that Markus Granlund plays a two-way game, and is best suited in a checking-line spot. Despite only two goals and three points in 16 games after being dealt for Hunter Shinkaruk, the team must like what the 23-year-old showed in his role, as they signed the pending RFA to an extension on Tuesday.

Granlund’s new deal could spell trouble for Linden Vey in particular.

The three big pending RFA forwards remaining for the Canucks are Sven Baertschi, Emerson Etem, and Vey. For centermen, meanwhile, Granlund looks now to cleary be ahead of Vey on the depth chart down the middle. It’s likely that even youngsters Jared McCann and Brendan Gaunce may be as well.

And it’s hard to say if any forward in Vancouver has had as much leeway as Vey in the past couple seasons. After earning a $1 million “show me” deal last summer, the 24-year-old started with the AHL’s Utica Comets, scoring three goals in 25 games, but would suit up for 41 NHL games, largely due to injury. Vey has impressed in spurts, but on the whole hasn’t contributed well enough in his role.

The story reads the same for Vey among depth forwards for the Canucks as it did a year ago. While players around him have grown and managed to adjust better, he’s been stagnant in his development. It may be time the Canucks move on from the Wakaw, SK native.

The Linden Vey Conundrum

There’s no denying Vey’s craftiness with the puck and playmaking ability. The problem is, this part of his game isn’t good enough to earn him a scoring role in the NHL, and other lacking parts of his game make him a liability as a bottom-six forward. Vey may be a more talented player offensively than Granlund or Etem, but he’s bumped in his skating, defensive play and work ethic by these two players – virtues which are more important when the Canucks are picking bottom-six forwards.

You can go down the prospective lineup. McCann has the potential to be brilliant offensively. Gaunce has grown in his all-around game, and could be a great fit as a depth forward down the road. Even recent signing Anton Rödin, whose first kick at the can in the Canucks system five years ago didn’t pan out, is the reigning Swedish Elite League MVP and could very well push for a roster spot.

What may be worse for Vey is that he’s failed to produce despite being given ample opportunities from Head Coach Willie Desjardins, his former bench boss with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. This season, Vey averaged 15:29 in ice time during Canucks home games – good for seventh among all Canucks forwards. Despite this, and frequently seeing powerplay time, Vey averaged 0.10 goals-per-game and 0.37 points-per-game, and was a minus-14 in 41 games.

Simply put, Vey isn’t good enough in any single facet of his game to earn an NHL job to this point, other than by consolation.

Should the Canucks Re-sign Vey?

Vey hasn’t done his part to earn a qualifying offer from the Canucks, but there’s a chance it could still happen.

Don’t forget, Benning dealt a second round pick to the LA Kings two seasons ago to acquire Vey. As a former scout with a strong draft history already in Vancouver, that’s likely not something the Canucks GM takes lightly. And from a coaching standpoint, Desjardins has seemed to be partial to Vey, giving him more opportunities than he should. It got to a point earlier this season where even the broadcasters voices were heard on Vancouver’s puzzling coaching decisions, largely revolved around favoring Vey.

You could argue that, should there be long-term injuries in the Canucks lineup, Vey is a player who could be called up from the minors to fill a temporary role. Although the team is almost certainly better off with a less-skilled player who is better suited for an NHL spot.

Above all, the Canucks front office could be in a tough situation with Vey, who they paid a substantial part to acquire in 2014 – a move they haven’t really benefited from at all. That being said, it wouldn’t be a huge loss at this point to let go of Vey. And if he’s given another year, he may soon be lost among depth players and the emerging group of young forwards in the Canucks system.