Another shot at NHL

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

The European vacation can wait, Lee Goren is coming back for another shot.

His first shot will be at making the Vancouver Canucks and having a greater impact than he had last season.

And if that doesn't work out, Goren will return to the Manitoba Moose.

Goren had considered heading to Europe -- Switzerland was his most likely destination -- but ultimately decided to give it another go on North American soil. The parent Canucks officially announced the signing of the 28-year-old Winnipegger yesterday.

"At the end of the season, I was kind of set on going to Europe but I was told Vancouver was still interested in having me," Goren said yesterday from his off-season home in Minneapolis. "Whether it be as a depth guy or a full-time guy. We'll wait and see what happens with that. Worst-case scenario I play in Winnipeg all year, best-case scenario I get to play in Vancouver. It's a good thing."

After scoring 32 goals and 62 points in 79 games with the Moose in 2004-05, Goren opened last season with the Canucks. But Goren couldn't find his offensive groove while playing a fourth-line role with limited playing time, finishing with one goal and three points in 28 games before he was sent back to the Moose.

With the Canucks looking a little thin on the right side to date, Goren might get a chance to play a larger role if he has a strong training camp for head coach Alain Vigneault.

"I haven't even looked at their depth chart," said Goren, who had 22 goals and 41 points in 42 AHL games last season. "If I go in and play well and do what I can do as a hockey player, I'll have a fine opportunity to make the hockey team and hopefully with Alain being there, it may give me an opportunity to play more minutes and maybe show what I can do."

Canucks general manager Dave Nonis expects Goren to push several other players for work this season.

"Lee is a quality player," Nonis said yesterday from Vancouver. "He's a guy who's shown he can play at the (NHL) level and he's a guy who plays, no matter where he is. He's a great teammate and he's a guy we wanted to keep in our organization."

The Canucks also signed three 20-year-old Western Hockey League graduates who should open the season with the Moose, along with veteran minor league defenceman Joe Rullier.

Defencemen Alexander Edler and Shaun Heshka and forward Jannik Hansen were signed to three-year entry level contracts yesterday.

Edler, the Canucks third round pick (91st overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, had 13 goals and 43 points in 62 games for the Kelowna Rockets and was fifth in scoring among blue-liners in the WHL last season. The product of Sweden added three goals and eight points in the playoffs.

Hansen, the Canucks ninth round (287th overall) selection in 2004, had 24 goals and 64 points in 53 games with the Portland Winter Hawks. He also suited up for Denmark at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Heshka, who the Canucks signed as an undrafted free agent, spent the past three seasons with the Everett Silvertips.

He was a key contributor last season, finishing second among defencemen in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Heshka had 10 goals and 59 points, then added three goals and 13 points in 14 post-season contests.

Rullier, a fifth round pick (133rd overall) of the Los Angeles Kings in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, has 20 goals and 77 points and 1,129 penalty minutes in 398 AHL games.

"He's a good tough player, a guy who is widely regarded for standing up for his teammates and doesn't back down," said Nonis.


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