VANCOUVER — With all the talk at training camp about Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce and Nicklas Jensen, it almost seems that another first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks is the forgotten man.
You remember Jordan Schroeder, don’t you?
The Canucks haven’t forgotten. They gave Schroeder a one-way contract this summer — albeit for only one year — and hope the player they picked 22nd overall in the 2009 draft is finally ready to blossom into a full-time NHL player.
Schroeder will compete for the vacant No. 3 centre position and finally having a healthy left shoulder should help his chances.
He underwent surgery May 21 to repair a torn labrum. The rehab for that type of injury is normally five or six months. Schroeder was cleared to play after just three-and-a-half months, thanks he says to a whole lot of hard work this summer.
For the last couple of years, Schroeder’s shoulder periodically popped out of its socket.
“It happened a bunch of times in games, “ he said Tuesday. “It would usually pop back in on its own, but it would just be painful for lengthy periods. … It progressively got worse and I decided to get it (surgery) done.”
Training camp is a piece of cake compared to the summer Schroeder endured as he desperately tried to get his shoulder ready to play. He knew there was an opening for a centre at camp and didn’t want to miss it.
So Schroeder worked, often from morning until night.
“It was a lot of work,” he said. “Post surgery, I was in a sling for a month and couldn’t really do much. I started to work out even with the sling on. I was doing leg stuff, anything I could, to keep my legs going. Then once I got the sling off I started to do a lot of physical therapy. On a typical day I’d work out in the morning, then skate, do an hour of physical therapy and then I’d go home and do an hour and a half more of physical therapy on my own. By that time, it’s a long day.”
Schroeder hopes all that hard work pays off. After getting a taste of the NHL last season, he wants the full-meal deal.
“I want to step up,” he said. “This is a good opportunity for me. I am really looking forward to it.”
Schroeder thinks the 31 games he played last season with the Canucks (he had three goals and nine points) will help him win a job.
“It’s huge,” he said. “You have never played a game before and I come up last year and got my feet wet a bit and got some confidence. It makes you feel more comfortable around the guys. We have got such a great group here and knowing you can talk to them and feed off them is always good.”
Schroeder must impress new coach John Tortorella, who acknowledged Tuesday he does not know much about the Minnesota product.
“A quick guy, he is probably going to play tomorrow,” Tortorella said, referring to Wednesday night’s pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena. “I am anxious to see him play. I like his speed, I like his tenacity, as far as on the puck. So now he’ll play and we’ll see where we go.”
There is lots of competition for the third- and fourth-line centre positions, including veterans like Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli as well as youngsters Horvat, Gaunce and Kellan Lain. Schroeder says he welcomes it.
“I’ll go out there and do whatever I can and control what I can control. Any kind of competition is good competition. You don’t want to be just handed a spot. It would be nice, but it’s not the case. You have to go out and earn it.”
To do that, Schroeder knows he has to become a more consistent player and prove he can he better in the defensive zone.
“I think the skill and speed and everything is there,” he said. “I think the will is the thing I have learned most over the summer just talking to (Zach) Parise and other guys I have looked up to. It’s all about consistency.”
While he may not have developed as quickly as the Canucks had hoped, Schroeder is hardly over the hill. He turns 23 later this month and acknowledges getting his one-way deal for $600,000 this summer helps his confidence.
“It’s huge. It’s an honour to get a contract like that from them. They didn’t have to do that. It gives you some confidence knowing you have got that, it just feels good. But there are a lot of guys on one-ways who get sent down and clear waivers and end up in the American League. I don’t want to be down there.”
ICE CHIPS: Tortorella says he will once again watch Wednesday night’s pre-season game against the Oilers from the press-box area … Roberto Luongo will start that game and play the first two periods … The Sedins will also see their first pre-season action and are expected to skate on a line with Zack Kassian … The Canucks cut their training camp roster by eight players Tuesday. Goalie Mathieu Corbeil, defenceman Sacha Guimond and forwards Ludwig Blomstrand, Alex Friesen and David Pacan were assigned to the AHL’s Utica Comets. Forwards Mitch Elliot, Jesse Mychan and Wes Myron were invited to the Utica training camp.
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