Centre Ryan Shannon, a man of many moves, got his first big break of the season last month when the Vancouver Canucks pulled their own zig-zag on him.
Earlier in the offseason, the Canucks re-signed Shannon, 25, to a one-year deal. As training camp drew near, Vancouver could see he was tilting more toward being a depth player again. That was the route Shannon took last season in 27 games with the Canucks and 13 in Winnipeg with the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose.
So the Canucks decided that freeing the talented sparkplug was better than burying him. They sent him to the Ottawa organization in exchange for defenceman Lawrence Nycholat.
"I was surprised. I'd been training, getting ready to go back to Vancouver," Shannon said. "With the change in management, they said there wasn't room for me. Instead of shoving me to the minors, they traded me to somewhere else."
Shannon is still caught in something of a roster squeeze. Last week, Ottawa demoted him to Binghamton. Although that's something of a forced marriage right now, it could also turn out to be one of the AHL's most beneficial ones.
Shannon tore onto the AHL scene three years ago as an undrafted free agent for Portland. He was the sparkplug for a great Pirates offence, shining with 27 goals and 59 assists. Shannon hasn't come close to replicating those numbers. He might have for the Moose last season, but he missed three months with a torn MCL. When healthy, he's been nudged out of his comfort zone and down to a third-line center role with Anaheim (11 points in 53 games in 2006-07) and Vancouver (13 in 27 last season).
That shouldn't be an issue in Binghamton. The team has a solid group of wings – hello, Denis Hamel – but missed the playoffs last season because the offence at times turned a little stagnant.
"He's going to be a real big part of our team. For as skilled as he is, he works just as hard or harder than anybody else," said Binghamton coach Cory Clouston, who got his first extended in-person look at Shannon this preseason. "He's a very focused athlete."
And considering Binghamton's desperate need for a top-two line middleman, a very busy one as well.
"You want high expectations on yourself. I feel confident about my game," Shannon said. "There's good skill players (in Binghamton). I think we have all the tools right here. I'd like to play the same way I did in Portland. I think I can do similar things here."
Author: Lindsay Kramer | NHL.com Correspondent