Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/18/13
How will blue line look opening night? The Vancouver Canucks opened their 2013 training camp over the weekend, beginning a six-day sprint towards opening night on Saturday. As veteran players are given a chance to find their ice legs, younger teammates are prepared to battle for the few available spots on a talented Canucks squad. While the absence of Ryan Kesler in Vancouver’s top-six provides opportunity for forwards to embrace new roles up front, the Canucks appear to have little room for competition on the blue line. Bieksa – Hamhuis Vancouver’s top pairing of Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis return to patrol the blue line together in 2013 and should have familiarity on their side to start the year after playing together for two consecutive seasons. Both Bieksa and Hamhuis chose to be patient during the lockout and did not play professional hockey elsewhere this winter, so expect a touch of rust to be visible over the first several games. If anything, at least Bieksa’s love for ball hockey may have kept him in shape. Edler – Garrison Vancouver’s second defensive pairing could face the biggest adjustments in 2013 as Alex Edler learns to play alongside off-season acquisition Jason Garrison. Like Edler’s former defensive partner Sami Salo, Garrison brings a big shot to the ice and is expected to play a large role in Vancouver’s power play in the future. Edler and Garrison both spent the off-season rehabilitating back and groin injuries respectively, but were both given medical clearance to play in mid-December. Hamhuis is expected to be ready for opening night (Photo – Rich Lam/Getty Images The NHL is sure to be rife with groin injuries due to the season’s sudden start, but as long as Garrison hasn’t been receiving rehabilitation tips from new teammate Ryan Kesler he should be healthy to start the year. Tanev – Ballard – Alberts – Barker With two defensive pairing seemingly set in stone, Vancouver’s final set of roster sports on the blue line come highly contested in the shortened 2013 season. Keith Ballard, Chris Tanev and Andrew Alberts are all familiar with the position and are expected to collectively make up Vancouver’s third pairing, but youngsters Kevin Connauton and Cam Barker are also expected to put the pressure on the team’s returnees. Connauton will be hard-pressed to crack the Canucks’ roster during a short six-day training camp, but Barker’s previous experience seems to have convinced the Canucks of his value, earning him a one-year $700,000 deal. Oilers fans who witnessed Barker’s struggles last season will tell you the Canucks are foolish to commit a year to the young defenceman, however the deal is ultimately structured to expose Vancouver as little as possible. Under the new CBA the Canucks can send Barker down to the AHL to avoid his cap hit without having to risk re-entry waivers. Derek Joslin and Peter Andersson are not expected to compete for a spot in Vancouver’s starting six anytime soon but could be called upon in a depth role as injuries pile up in a sudden and compressed season. UPDATE: The Canucks have signed defenceman Jim Vandermeer, who is expected to join the cast of depth defenceman fighting for time on Vancouver’s third defensive pairing. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSPORTSBEAT!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Utah paying tribute to past with throwback jerseys

WATCH: Western Kentucky scores on throw by WR

WATCH: 400-pound Baylor TE makes defender miss for TD

WATCH: Braxton Miller triple-jukes Maryland defender

UCLA punter suspended indefinitely arrest in rape case

Oregon walk-on QB Taylor Alie reportedly to start vs. WSU


FSU fan posts 'missing' signs for Miami's football program

Greg Hardy stars in rap video, fires back at critics

Report: Chip Kelly in danger of losing Eagles locker room

Ronda Rousey issues warning: Call me fat and I'll kill you

What does Tevin Coleman’s return mean for Devonta Freeman?

Antonio Cromartie: Odell Beckham Jr. a ‘one hit wonder’

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dwight Howard, image & Houston's title chances

10 unheralded NFL players who will impact Week 5

Five potential upsets in NFL Week 5

Why the Carolina Panthers are the NFL's next super power

NHL Department of Player Safety inconsistent in disciplining players?

Explaining the silence on Thabo Sefolosha’s police brutality trial

Six biggest matchups in Week 6 of CFB

Joe Maddon's defensive calculus

Sepp Blatter appeals FIFA suspension

Looking at four NHL goaltenders who debuted for new teams

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker