The Vancouver Canucks aren't a "banners fly forever" franchise and never have been during the Aquilini Group's tenure as owners. The club, which is only two years removed from winning their second consecutive President's Trophy, had a down year last season, but isn't rebuilding and is stubbornly committed to pushing for the postseason in the loaded Pacific Division this upcoming season.
"I think you always want to build something long-term," new Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said during an appearance on Vancouver Sports talk radio station the Team 1040 on Thursday. "But you're also really short-term in what you want. We want to be a good team and make the playoffs and that's our focus."
To that end, it's expected that the Canucks will make it difficult for highly touted prospects like London Knights center Bo Horvat to crack the roster.
"We have a set number of spots and those (young) guys have to be able to win that spot," explained Desjardins. "If they're good enough to beat out other guys, then they'll make the team. Because we're playing to win, that's what we're here for, and we'll go with our best lineup."
While Desjardins explained that a "tie" would go to the younger guy - "because you want him to develop, you want to get him in there" - the rookie NHL bench boss made it clear that a young player will face an uphill slog in their efforts to break camp with Vancouver's NHL club.
Even Linden Vey, who the team has all but penciled into their third-line since acquiring him on the second day of the 2014 NHL entry draft, is going to have to earn his keep, explained Desjardins:
He's another guy who has to prove it. He's proven it in spurts when he was up with Los Angeles. In the American League he's proven it. Now you have to prove it on an everyday basis, like you have to come in and show what you can do...
Sometimes when you know you might get a longer look, and you don't worry about making mistakes you play better, sometimes you don't, we expect him to play, it's his spot to take, but he has to be ready at training camp and I expect him to be ready.
Based on Vancouver's insistence on competing for a playoff spot next season, it would seem that a player like the 22-year-old Vey would have an advantage over a 19-year-old like Bo Horvat in the competition to center Vancouver's third-line. Whoever wins the job, they'll look to stabilize a position on the Canucks roster that has been something of a black-hole ever since Manny Malhotra sustained a freak injury in the 72nd game of the 2010-11 season.