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Canucks look to Beech for depth

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks added another piece to their already intricate puzzle of a line-up on Thursday, claiming centre Kris Beech off waivers.

The 26-year-old joins the Canucks from the Columbus Blue Jackets where he played 16 games this season, recording nine points (5-4-9) with a rating of plus-3. The 6’3”, 211-pound native of Salmon Arm, BC, started the season with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, but after registering 15 points (5-10-15) in 16 games, he was recalled by the Blue Jackets in mid-November.

A first round pick, seventh overall, by the Washington Capitals in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Beech brings 189 games of big league experience to Vancouver and is sure to add some much needed depth at centre to the Canucks.

“We’ve been banged up down the middle, both here and in Manitoba, and Kris has some experience, “ said Canucks senior vice-president and general manager Dave Nonis Thursday afternoon. “He’s played in the league a significant number of games, he’s played pretty well this year and we thought it was a good opportunity to improve our depth. It gives Alain another option, and how much Kris plays will be up to him. “

Nonis feels this is a necessary move because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find trades this time of year. Vancouver’s roster has been a work in progress all season, so the Canucks’ GM isn’t afraid to pick up players with potential and he’s noticed some in Beech. Nonis is impressed with Beech’s ability to play with some of the league’s best players in a variety of situations.

“He’s played this year with Zherdev, with Nash; he’s played on their power play, he does have that skill level where he can be a secondary unit player and you can never have too many guys that have that ability, “ said Nonis.

“I think it’s a lot easier to find a checker, than someone who does have the ability to play with good players. He’s done it before, and again, I think that from a coaching standpoint, I think the coaches like to have as many possibilities as they can get. “

The affect this acquisition will have on Vancouver’s offence is yet to be seen, but at worst Beech will compete for a roster spot, forcing those lagging in the Canucks’ line-up to step up their game.

The addition of Beech will also force Coach Alain Vigneault to make some difficult decisions regarding who, of the 16 forwards on Vancouver’s roster, to put in his line-up.

Nonis said that ultimately there will be a decision made, but that for right now the team will most likely stick with their full roster.

“Coach has to get to know some of the combinations that might work, and where Kris might fit in, so I think at this point we’ll carry the full compliment of players.

“I think that the guys who have come up from Manitoba have done an excellent job filling in for some injured players and they deserve every opportunity to stay as well. So again, from my standpoint, and discussing it with our scouts, was that it was just a good opportunity to increase our depth. “

Beech, who is set to arrive in Vancouver on Thursday, is signed to a two-way contract so the Canucks also have the option of assigning the forward to Manitoba of the AHL. He’d be more than a welcomed addition to the line-up as since Mason Raymond and Jason Jaffray were called up to Vancouver, the Moose have struggled on offence averaging only 2.41 goals per game. Although the Moose have won seven of 12 games since the duo left in early December, the team isn’t about to say no to Beech’s services.

“If you look down at Manitoba, they’ve done a very good job there as well, but they’re as depleted as we are and we don’t have a lot of bodies to call upon, “ added Nonis.

Beech has 65 points (24-41-65) in 189 career games in the NHL. Of Beech’s four assists this season, two were for game-winning goals, while another was to Rick Nash for a goal that helped Columbus pull off a come from behind win in Colorado.

  4 - Different teams played for since 2000

  9 - Points this season (5-4-9)

26 - Points last season, a career high

65 - Career points in the NHL

111 - Career penalty minutes in the NHL

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