Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/17/13

NEW YORK - JANUARY 27: Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck against Andrew Alberts #41 of the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on January 27, 2010 in New York, New York. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
There’s video evidence to suggest unrestricted free agent defenceman Andrew Alberts can play the “more bite” game demanded by John Tortorella. But those clips are a little dated and a little faded. Those heavy YouTube hits on Pavel Datsyuk, Sidney Crosby and Logan Couture — bone-jarring collisions that either denied those opposition forwards the blueline or forward movement in the offensive zone — came years ago. Alberts played just 24 games for the Vancouver Canucks in the shortened season and all four in the playoffs after logging just 44 and 42 games respectively the previous two regular seasons. That’s a product of being the extra guy, that big depth blueliner every team needs, who gets into the lineup through injury or indifferent play. So when the Canucks got off to a 10-3-4 start last season, Alberts didn’t play. “It’s probably the most frustrating start to a hockey season I’ve ever had,” recalled Alberts, who logged 10 straight games to end the regular season with Chris Tanev sidelined by injury. “I came in top shape and they tell you how good everything is and then you sit there. So, it’s frustrating. You want to make an impression with the short time you get.” Alberts, 32, could command a two-year contract on the open market, but his agent and the Canucks are expected to meet again later this week or early next week to see if a deal can be struck. There are obvious salary-cap constraints with $5.174 million US left to spend under the $64.3 million ceiling to re-sign restricted free agents Tanev, Dale Weise and Jordan Schroeder — who had offseason shoulder surgery and may not be ready for camp — and perhaps Alberts. He had but one assist and was a minus-7, but if you pro-rate the pace of 39 hits and 31 block shots Alberts had in those 24 games, he’d rank among the top three on the Canucks’ back end if he’d played the full shortened season. And because Tortorella, the new and demanding bench boss, has few options but for his veteran-laden club to play “stiffer” next season, the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Alberts would seem to fill at least a support role. Especially with Keith Ballard bought out, Yannick Weber trying to restart his career after not being tendered a qualifying offer by the Montreal Canadiens, rookie Frank Corrado having played but seven NHL games and no interest in re-signing UFA Cam Barker. There are nearly 70 UFA defencemen on the market ranging in age from 22 to 40, who earned between $525,000 and $4.5 million last season in pro-rated deals. Alberts earned $1.225 million among 23 UFAs who made at least $1 million. The Canucks could go in other directions to flush out their defence, but they know what they have in Alberts. That’s why they’re talking. “There remains interest by a couple of teams and Andrew was hoping to come back to Vancouver,” said Kurt Overhardt, the blueliner’s Denver-based agent. “We especially think with the new coaching staff that he would fit in because he’s a big, strong warrior and knows his role. And he’s a physical player and will fit with the scheme and what the needs seem to be. That’s our opinion.”
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