Vancouver Canucks top prospect Nicklas Jensen likely to remain in Sweden even if NHL lockout ends
Notebook: 2011 first-round draft choice has scored eight goals in first 15 games with Elite League’s AIK
VANCOUVER — It’s highly unlikely the Vancouver Canucks would summon prospect Nicklas Jensen from Sweden to attend a quick training camp before a lockout-shortened NHL season.
General manager Mike Gillis said the team hasn’t made a definitive decision, but certainly indicated that the organization is leaning toward allowing Jensen to play the entire season with AIK of the Swedish Elite League.
“He is doing really well there,” Gillis said. “He’s leading their team in goals and he’s a 19-year-old. He is getting better and better every week.”
Jensen is doing more than leading his team in goals. His eight goals are second only to the 11 scored by Linkoping’s Carl Soderberg in the entire Swedish Elite League.
“As our team is positioned right now we have a couple of extra forwards,” Gillis said. “He is doing extremely well there and to bring him over here for a short training camp, he’d be flying for 18 hours, you get here and it’s going to be pretty hard for him to crack our lineup.”
In his most recent outing on Tuesday night, Jensen had a goal and an assist in AIK’s 5-4 loss to league-leading HV71. Stockholm-based AIK has struggled in the early going this season and currently sits ninth in the 12-team SEL with just five wins in 16 games.
Jensen, Vancouver’s first-round pick (29th overall) in the 2011 draft, has three assists to go along with his eight goals this season.
STILL DREAMING: Some dreams take longer to come true than others. Steve Pinizzotto knows this better than most.
The veteran winger has spent several years toiling in the minors and after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury, Pinizzotto likes to think he’s close to realizing his life-long dream of playing in the NHL.
“I’ve thought about it for 28 years now,” Pinizzotto said this past weekend after the Chicago Wolves had concluded their two-game series with the Abbotsford Heat. “If they come to an agreement, then if I get my chance, I get it. If not, then I’ll just keep working for it.”
Chances are, Pinizzotto would have logged his first NHL game last season if he hadn’t required shoulder surgery. He impressed in training camp and coach Alain Vigneault likes his combination of toughness and skill.
Pinizzotto dished out plenty of hits this past weekend and even fought 6-foot-7 Abbotsford defenceman Chris Breen.
Gillis was clearly impressed with what he saw of Pinizzotto on the weekend.
“He would have played for us last year, he made our team.” Gillis said. “People know when he’s out there. He is involved with somebody every shift and he’s got a high skill level, shoots the puck really well, handles the puck and knows how to play.”
DUTCH TREAT: For those wondering how good the Dutch League is, Canuck winger Dale Weise may have provided an answer. Weise had eight points in his first two games with the Destil Trappers. That’s exactly how many points Weise had in 68 games of fourth-line duty with the Canucks last season.
TRADE TALK: The new collective bargaining agreement, whenever it gets done, will have much to say about what the Canucks actually get in a Roberto Luongo trade. The most recent NHL proposal to the NHLPA included a provision designed to punish teams like the Canucks that signed players to lengthy back-sliding deals.
Luongo has 10 years remaining on a contract with an annual salary cap hit of $5.33 million. He is only scheduled to make a total of $3.6 million over the final three years of that deal, with the assumption he would likely be retired by then.
But the NHL proposal would leave teams who signed the player to such contracts on the hook for the salary cap hit — even if the player has been traded — after he retires.
That would be bad news down the road for the Canucks, who would then be on the hook for Luongo’s salary-cap hit post-retirement. But the upside is it should increase his value in a trade as a team acquiring Luongo would know it would only being paying him for as long as he played.
Luongo, by the way, will be back in Vancouver this weekend. He is scheduled to compete in a World Series of Poker circuit event at the River Rock Casino in Richmond. Luongo is playing in the event as part of his endorsement deal with the B.C. Lottery Corp.’s Playnow.com gaming website.
ICE CHIP: Brendan Gaunce, Vancouver’s first-round pick this past summer, is out three to six weeks after separating his shoulder. The Belleville Bulls captain suffered the injury in a OHL game last Friday against Sudbury.
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