VANCOUVER - What Mason Raymond and Ryan Shannon lack in size they more than compensate for in speed.
Their quickness and puck-handling skills were enough to earn the pair a spot on the Vancouver Canucks' roster to begin the NHL season. Raymond, 22, and Shannon, 24, were among the 24 players that remained with the Canucks when the team trimmed its roster Monday.
"Players that deserve to be here are here," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "Both those players had good camps and they are going to start with us.
"We think they are good players and they will have a chance to prove it in the regular season."
Raymond has proven to be a smooth fit on a line with Swedish twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The six-foot, 165-pound native of Cochrane, Alta., collected a goal in the Canucks' final exhibition game Saturday, a 5-4 win over Edmonton.
"I just wanted to stick to my game," said Raymond, who played college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth last season. "I concentrated on what I do best, skating and that kind of thing.
"Those guys are one of the most dynamic duos in the NHL. It makes my job a lot easier when I'm with those guys."
The five-foot-nine, 180-pound Shannon had two goals and nine assists in 53 games last year with the Anaheim Ducks. He combines his blazing speed with the ability to send crisp passes and make good decisions with the puck.
Shannon is expected to start on a line with Markus Naslund and Ryan Kesler when the Canucks open the regular season Friday at home against the San Jose Sharks.
"It makes the game a lot easier," the Darien, Conn., native said about playing with skill players. "I can rely on my instincts more playing in an energy role.
"With grinders, where you are just dumping and chasing, it kind of seems a waste of energy sometimes. Now, when you have skilled players on your line, you can take advantage of the mistakes of other teams and contribute and some goals."
Shannon, who the Canucks picked up in a trade for Jason King and a draft pick, also scored against the Oilers.
Injuries to defencemen Sami Salo and Alexander Edler means Nathan McIver will start the season with Vancouver.
"Nathan is going to be here as long as we are a little bit banged up," said general manager Dave Nonis. "I expect once we are healthy he may end up back in Manitoba."
Salo is still out with a fractured left wrist while Edler has a hip injury.
McIver, of Newton, P.E.I., was taken 254th overall in the 2003 draft. He played 63 games with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League last season, collecting 139 penalty minutes.
Vigneault likes McIver's six-foot-two, 195-pound size and his hard-nosed attitude.
"He made a case for himself," said the coach. "He's not a scorer but he scored two goals (in exhibition). He's a safe defenceman and he fought four times. He deserves to start with us."
Among the players sent to Manitoba was defenceman Luc Bourdon, a former first-round draft pick, and feisty centre Rick Rypien.
Bourdon, 20, was taken 10th overall in the 2005 draft. He showed great potential in his first camp as an 18-year-old but has struggled to earn a spot with the team.
"Luc did OK during camp," said Vigneault. "We still believe we have a great hockey player there.
"He needs to do like all young kids. He needs to play in the American league and be a dominate player at that level. In the near future we will have a very good defenceman."
Rypien battled injuries during training camp but made his presence felt in the two exhibition games he played.
He fought Calgary winger Warren Peters in Friday night's win over the Flames, then unloaded a questionable hit on Edmonton's Mathieu Roy Saturday. That resulted in Roy being taken off the ice on a stretcher and Rypien being given a five-minute charging penalty and game misconduct.
Vigneault expects Rypien will be back with the Canucks sometime this season.
"When we picture our team we picture that type of player on our team," he said. "He's got speed and grit. He doesn't mind using it and fighting when he needs to fight.
"If he goes (to Manitoba) and does what he's shown us in the two games he did play, he'll be back with us in the future."