Who is this guy ?
Position: Centre, wing,( usually the right one ) wherever this utility forward is needed by the coaches.
Weight: 189 lbs
Born: July 17th, 1991 in Wakaw Saskatchewan, and drafted in the 4th round in 2009 by the Kings.
What'd He Do ?
This player is going to get some differences of opinion, no matter what, but I thought he took a step this year, for what it is worth. Whether it was because he was paired mostly with his one time junior teammate Emerson Etem ( it helped, but he was not just a product of that pairing ), or because he focused and got better as he got older is a point of conjecture, but the thing about Linden Vey is, you usually do not have to worry about his effort.
The Canucks were probably happy enough with his 10 goals and 24 points in 78 games last year ( hockey reference page here. One of the great features there is right at the bottom, where it lists players that have similar careers. Recognize ANY of those names? lol ) . Vey's production this past year ( 4 foals and 15 points ) through 41 games is slightly off on the goal scoring, but he increased his TOI from 13:10 to 15:45. Some of that is going to speak to need in a season where the training room was standing ( sitting, laying down, whatever ) room only, and he got banged up a few times himself as well.
When he played centre, he was his usual, not very good at the faceoff thing self. He may be in tough sometimes, what with being up and down the lineup, but when your percentage is 44.4 ( '14, in LA ) 42.8 ( '15 ) and 43 percent on 124, 503, and 449 draws respectively, the verdict is in. A solid "meh" in the faceoff circle is not going to make the management reach for the signing pen for a 4th liner.
Yeah, But Was He Any Good?
It is all relative with this player. I said above that I saw improvement in his play, and he is an NHL player. Again, your eyes tell you one thing, and the stats another. When in doubt, go to the guys with analysis in their name. Spend some time clicking around the table at hockeyanalysis.com here, and it is tough to say "good" in a relative sense. In almost every column, when you click the top and it rearranges the players by how they did, he is usually no better than 8th in a couple, and way down the list in others. For instance, in shots / 60, he was worst on the team. Not good for someone that is supposed to have offensive skills too. Playing responsible, like he does, is one thing. Averaging less shots a game than anyone else is quite another.
I like the player. I see what the coaches see, a hard working player who has shown some ( marginal ) improvement, and someone the coach's can depend on to move up and down the lineup. I get having a utility player for a coach. It is much like the utility player in baseball, every team has one or two on the bench. I am just not sure if this one will be able to withstand the youth movement and hold his spot here.
What Did We Like ?
It is not all bad. He hunted the puck pretty well on this goal versus the Islanders.
He showed some more of that offensive skill here, finishing off a nice Baertschi pass against Tort's team.
This one is the best. Total snipe show shot, even if it is against Cam Ward. Remember when he was really, really good?
What Did We Hate ?
I outlined a few things above, but I think what I hated most in relation to this player is that he gets the "Aaron Rome" treatment here. For the life of me, I don't get that aspect of our fanbase. There seems to be a need for some in our paradise by the sea to have a player that becomes a "whipping boy" . All of the sudden, some guy who, while maybe being a marginal NHLer, realizes his dream of being an NHL player and he is suddenly someone who everyone decides is at fault, even when he is not.
It has happened here ever since 1970 with Dale Tallon, and continues to this day. I sometimes wonder if folks realize that, in a world where there are thousands and thousands of players coming of age every year, and many many more than that are playing the game, that even a guy like Linden Vey is in the top 1% as far as hockey talent goes. Oh well, they get paid well to take those slings and arrows, right?
So, what now ?
Linden Vey made 1,000,000 dollars last year from the Canucks, and is a restricted free agent now. I would imagine if there is one player that is being discussed in those meetings Jim Benning et al are having, it might be Vey and whether he has a spot for next year in Blue and Green. Lineup spots are valuable currency.
If he does stay, you know the "coach's pet" stuff from the twitterati will go nuts on that day, and the unnatural levels of Vey "hate" will only escalate going forward. If he doesn't, which might be more likely, he will probably catch on somewhere as a fourth liner. Utility players do fill a need. Interesting times ahead for the one time Medicine Hat Tiger.