After skating at UBC this summer and throughout the lockout without a contract, Jim Vandermeer has put pen to paper on a deal with the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver signed the 32-year-old defenceman to a one-year, two-way contract that was announced Monday morning.
The Canucks are Vandermeer’s seventh NHL team. He suited up in 25 games for the San Jose Sharks last season, scoring once and adding three assists. But it’s his toughness and character that attracted the Canucks.
“It took a little bit longer than we wanted to but we just want to make sure we talk to every team,” Vandermeer said.
“This was by far the best fit, so we got a deal done.”
The Canucks might have their top two defensive pairings set – Dan Hamhuis with Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler alongside Jason Garrison – but there is now a logjam of blue liners vying for the final two pairings.
On Monday, Keith Ballard skated with Chris Tanev, while the newly signed Cam Barker was paired with Andrew Alberts.
“He’s an experienced NHL player that brings an identity to the table,” head coach Alain Vigneault said of Vandermeer.
“He’s a physical, tough defenceman that has got a lot of experience. Obviously he’s fighting for seventh, eighth, ninth spot on our team and we’ll sort that out here as we move forward.”
INJURIES BECOMING A CONCERN FOR CANUCKS
It’s just the second day of training camp and already injuries are becoming a pain in the groin for the Canucks.
Vigneault told reporters at Rogers Arena that winger David Booth was going for an MRI Monday afternoon with an ailing groin.
Booth, 28, was absent for both Sunday and Monday on-ice sessions.
“He tweaked his groin a little bit (Sunday) and we’re not quite sure how severe it is,” Vigneault said.
The good news for the Canucks: Hamhuis was back on the ice after missing the first day of camp also due to a sore groin that he first detected late last week while skating with teammates at UBC.
“We were just being precautionary,” Hamhuis said.
“It’s a short camp. Saturday’s going to come quick so we decided it would be the best thing is not to do the testing day (Sunday) and give it an extra day of rest. Felt really good today on the ice.”
Having Hamhuis back at practice keeps Vancouver’s top two defensive pairings intact – at least for right now – as the Canucks prepare for Saturday’s home and season opener against the Anaheim Ducks.
General manager Mike Gillis said during his Sunday press conference that injuries are “going to be the biggest factor” in shortened season, which will see the Canucks play 48 games over a 99-day period.
“Like we talked about a lot, rest and recovery is important, and managing injuries,” added Hamhuis.
“That’s why we tried to get on this right away and not take any chance of making it worse in the testing and so far that strategy (has) worked.”
However, the Canucks might not be so fortunate with Booth, who, according to Vigneault, told the coach he was skating four to five times a week during the lockout.
Booth is slotted to play on the Canucks second line, which is already missing centre Ryan Kesler, who had off-season shoulder and wrist operations.
There is no exact timetable for Kesler’s return, however he did skate late in Monday’s second session.
Zack Kassian, who was also absent during Sunday’s practice due to lingering back spasms, skated Monday with Mason Raymond on the left side, and Andrew Ebbett and Jordan Schroeder taking turns at centre on what is perceived as the Canucks makeshift second line.
“Obviously there’s going to be injuries, we’re just trying to limit those,” said Kassian.
“You never want to see a guy go down first day of camp but that’s the way it is, especially in a shortened season. Hopefully (Booth) gets back into playing shape soon and obviously I’m just here to work hard and fill voids.”