Zac Dalpe is excited for his new opportunity.
Like really, really excited.
The last thing any player should do during a practice run by John Tortorella is smile, especially as gleefully as Dalpe did Tuesday morning at Rogers Arena, but the 23-year-old couldn’t help himself.
The Paris, Ontario, native, who was acquired alongside Jeremy Welsh from the Carolina Hurricanes over the weekend, skated with new team for the first time and he enjoyed every minute of it.
Being in the Canucks dressing room, head to toe in Canucks gear, after practicing with the Canucks, is a smidge surreal to Dalpe, a lifelong Canucks fan.
“I’m excited for the fresh start,” said Dalpe, who had three points in 10 games with the Hurricanes last season. “Obviously stuff didn’t go as well in Carolina, but it’s a change of scenery and there’s no better way to come to the team I grew up adoring and watching, I was a big Vancouver Canucks fan growing up, so it’s good.”
Dalpe was drafted 45th overall by the Hurricanes in 2008 and in 41 games in Carolina, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-winger had five goals, five assists and four penalty minutes.
Things haven’t exactly played out as Dalpe had envisioned, but he’s determined to turn his NHL career around.
“As a second round pick back in ’08, I wouldn’t say that I failed, but obviously stuff didn’t go as planned and I’m happy with my development, I’m happy with where I am as a player and hopefully I can show that in Vancouver.
“Being this is my fourth year as a pro, there are some things to prove and I’m looking to do that. I want to be a consistent NHL hockey player, that’s my goal.”
Dalpe skated between Tom Sestito and Dale Weise on Vancouver’s fourth line in practice Tuesday; if he begins the season as a grinder, he’s prepared to make the most of it.
“There are things that you’ve got to do on the fourth line that you can’t do in any other spot, but I’m not looking at that as a bad thing. I’m here to put on the Canucks jersey and play and hopefully work my way up.
“I’m here to win and I’m excited.”
THE OTHER NEW GUY
The Canucks are now carrying eight healthy defenceman with the addition of Ryan Stanton off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks Monday.
Stanton also practiced for the first time with his new teammates Tuesday, paired with Andrew Alberts. He too enjoyed the pace of practice and is also pleased to be presented with a new opportunity.
“It was great news yesterday when I got picked up, best thing for my career and I’m looking forward to it,” said Stanton.
The 24-year-old, who dressed in one game with the Blackhawks last season, spent the majority of the year with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs amassing 25 points (3-22-25) and 126 penalty minutes.
Now with the Canucks, the 6-foot-2, 196-pound Alberta product knows consistency is the key to remaining in the NHL.
“I think I need to work hard and show consistency, I think I have the game that I can play in the NHL, but it’s a challenge to bring it every night. That’s something I have to do and play solid defensively, block shots and just do the things I did down there to hopefully stick up here.
With only one practice day remaining before the Canucks open the 2013-14 NHL season, on the road in San Jose, not a lot has changed in Vancouver’s dressing room.
The core of the team remains intact, but there’s been a definite mental switch, according to captain Henrik Sedin.
“I think the team is pretty similar, but we play a different style and I think we have a little bit more jump in our game, a little bit more aggressiveness and it’s been feeling pretty good so far,” said Hank.
“We want to be a hardworking team, a team that’s tough to play against, strong along the boards at both ends and just a tougher team overall, being tough on pucks and hold onto pucks not only in our end, but in their end as well.”