Rambunctious Edmonton Oilers left winger Ben Eager has been waived and dispatched to the minors and the team's new muscle, Steve MacIntyre, has a knee injury.
So if the Vancouver Canucks are wondering who might be coming after them Saturday night, his name is Luke Gazdic.
"I know absolutely nothing about him," said Canucks right winger Dale Weise, a possible target after his hit to the head of Oilers star Taylor Hall during a pre-season game two weeks ago.
On the same night, Zack Kassian broke Sam Gagner's jaw with a reckless high stick and he'll be serving the fifth game Saturday of an eight-game suspension. Weise was slapped with a three-game suspension that has since been completed.
So what about Gazdic? According to a scouting report, he is 24, from Toronto, listed at six-foot-three and 240 pounds and routinely picks up more than 100 penalty minutes.
In his only NHL game - the Oilers' 5-4 loss Tuesday to Winnipeg - Gazdic finished one assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
He scored in the first period and fought Jets tough guy Chris Thorburn in the second. (In an interesting twist, Gazdic was picked up on waivers Monday from Dallas after MacIntyre was hurt trying to hit him in a pre-season game three nights earlier.) "I don't think there are going to be any repercussions but who knows?" Weise said following practice Friday. "We'll see what happens."
DANNY ON MANNY: Canucks blue-liner Dan Hamhuis became good buddies with Manny Malhotra when both signed with the team in the summer of 2010. They moved into the same Vancouver neighbourhood and their families became friends.
So Hamhuis was understandably pleased when Malhotra, his career in jeopardy because of his eye injury, received a 25-game tryout this week with the Charlotte Checkers, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Malhotra, of course, was shut down by Canucks general manager Mike Gillis nine games into lockout-shortened season earlier this year, feeling Malhotra was not safe on the ice due to his impaired vision. Malhotra was on an expiring contract and became an unrestricted free agent July 5.
"Obviously I'm really excited for Manny," Hamhuis said. "He's worked extremely hard over these last seven to eight months to put himself in a position when the opportunity came up. I know he was hoping to get a contract. Then he was hoping for an NHL tryout. Unfortunately, both of these things fell through. You have to give him a lot of credit for his perseverance."
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