The Canucks made two key acquisitions before the trade deadline this afternoon, adding a coveted 4th line centre and some versatile depth on the wing.
Vancouver acquired centre Maixm Lapierre and minor leaguer MacGregor Sharp from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for centre Joel Perrault and a third round pick in 2012, then added left winger Chris Higgins from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Evan Oberg and a 3rd rounder in 2013.
“I think we added experience and we added a little bit of a different element than we possess on this team currently,” said Mike Gillis.
“With Chris Higgins we have a player who can move up and down the lineup and with Max Lapierre we have a 3rd line slash 4th line player that can add some sandpaper and a different dimension that we don’t currently have.”
Maxim Lapierre played last season with the Montreal Canadiens, registering 14 points in 76 games. He was an integral part of the Habs playoff success, killing penalties, providing grit and adding three goals in 19 games. Lapierre once played under Head Coach Alain Vigenault for the PEI Rocket of the QMJHL.
“I had a great time playing for him in Junior, I had a really good relationship with him,” said Lapierre. “He is the first coach that ever taught me system wise, really hockey was in the NHL. He helped me out a lot with my development when I was young and I’m glad to be back with him.”
Lapierre was quick to dismiss any claims that his antagonistic playing style wouldn’t fit in with the Canucks disciplined approach to the game.
“Coach is going to tell me what my role is and what I’m going to do,” said Lapierre. “If they want me to shut up, I’ll do it”.
Higgins, a three time 20 goal scorer, played two seasons with Lapierre on the Montreal Canadiens. He’s a speedy winger, with a strong north/south game.
“I’ve always been a versatile player, just looking to build chemistry with whoever I am playing with in Vancouver, and if I can score some goals, obviously that would be great,” said Higgins. “But just looking forward to finding my niche and trying to contribute every night”.
“It’s a big change of scenery for me, it’s always exciting to play in Canada, going to a team that’s first in the NHL right now it’s a great opportunity.”
Higgins suffered a thumb injury while blocking a shot last Friday against the Atlanta Thrashers. It’s unknown how long he will be out for, but a timetable for his return will be clearer after he visits with the Canucks medical staff tomorrow.
Lapierre is expected to suit up for the Canucks tomorrow night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Some additional quotes from this afternoon’s conference call:
“I used to play against Crosby in Rimouski,” ~Lapierre
“I’m a playoff type of guy, my experience last year was great, we had a good run and I did pretty good, so I am ready to go for another long run this year,” ~Lapierre
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be out, I don’t think it’s as severe as they thought it was right away, I just went down to block a shot and the guy followed through with his stick, hit me and jammed me pretty good, and I knew it was broken right when it happened, it felt kind of strange,” ~Higgins.
“I played with Ryan Kesler on the World Junior team, Rick Bowness coach me, when I was a lot younger, on the Island, when I was like 11 or 12, he coached a couple of my teams during the summer and Rollie Melanson was with Montreal when I was there as well.” ~Higgins
CANUCKS UNVEIL OLYMPIC EXHIBIT AT ROGERS ARENA
Roberto Luongo was on hand this afternoon, gold medal in tow, to unveil a spectacular tribute to both the Men’s and Women’s 2010 gold medal winning hockey teams.
The exhibit includes memorabilia from the games: Roberto Luongo’s goalie mask and stick, Haley WIckenheiser’s skates and gloves and the lucky loonie buried at centre ice.
The display features a modern design, sleek, and elegant, with photos from the post game celebration in Vancouver, a life size photo of the iconic ‘Luongo waving the Canadian flag’ image and a TV playing the final moments of gold medal game.
“This is the first time I’ve seen it and it looks really, really nice,” said Luongo.
“I was talking to my wife last night watching the replay of the last few plays and the goal and it still brings goose bumps that will probably never go away.”
“I can’t believe a year has gone already, but the memory is still fresh and that’s a good thing.”
ORESKOVICH AND HODGSON SENT DOWN
With the acquisitions of forwards Maxim Lapierre and Chris Higgins, Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that centre Cody Hodgson and right winger Victor Oreskovich have been re-assigned to the Manitoba Moose.
Hodgson, 21, has registered 18 points (12-6-18) in 34 games with Manitoba this season. In eight games with Vancouver, he registered two points (1-1-2) and was plus-one. The Toronto, ON, native was originally selected by Vancouver 10th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Oreskovich, 24, has collected 11 points (4-7-11) in 31 games with Manitoba this season. In eight games with Vancouver, he collected an assist and two penalty minutes. The Whitby, ON, native has played 58 NHL games, registering seven points (2-5-7) and 28 penalty minutes.