Decisions await Canucks

HOSEA CHEUNG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

From now until Sept. 30 when a final 23-man roster has to be submitted to the NHL, the Canucks have plenty of decisions to make.

There are already guarantees on this team, such as Roberto Luongo and the Sedins, but there are also those contending for different positions and spots.

So with training camp starting Saturday, let the battles begin.

"We're looking forward to a very spirited camp," said Assistant GM Laurence Gilman. "I think there will be tremendous competition with respect to who's playing with whom, who is going to be playing on the powerplay, and who will be used in different situations."

Fans attending the on-ice sessions at UBC from Sunday to Wednesday - admission is free - will want to keep an eye on some of these players:

- ANDREW RAYCROFT- CORY SCHNEIDER:

The battle of the backup is one to watch, considering Luongo's commitments to the Olympics mean less games for the captain, in order not to overwork him. And although Raycroft has more NHL experience than Schneider, anything can happen. "[GM] Mike Gillis and [coach] Alain Vigneault have showed that the best players will play," said Gilman. "Whoever comes to camp and out-performs those other players in their position, whether that's forward, defense, or goaltending, that person will play."

- JANNIK HANSEN:

The Danish forward had a strong preseason last year but not only will he have to be even better this time around, he'll have to do it on a consistent level. "[Hansen] proved himself at the beginning of last season," said Gilman. "He came in, he was physical, he worked hard, and he's got to do the exact same thing to be on this team."

- CODY HODGSON- SERGEI SHIROKOV- MICHAEL GRABNER:

With Pavol Demitra out another six weeks, a top-six spot has opened up, and there's a good possibility that one of the higher-rated rookies can earn their way onto the opening night roster. "That position could be filled by one of our existing players, who moves up if you will, or in the alternative, could be filled by a new player," said Gilman. "It will be born out of the competition of camp."

- SHANE O'BRIEN-BRAD LUKOWICH

It's not narrowed down to just these two but the blueline will definitely have plenty of capable candidates vying for those top-six spots. It's just that O'Brien and Lukowich might have to stand out more than the others.

- ALEX BURROWS-MIKAEL SAMUELSSON

Barring injuries, both players will be on the main roster, but it's the battle for who plays with the Sedins that could get somewhat intriguing. Look for Burrows to get the upper hand, at least when it's even strength, and Samuelsson to be on that top line during the powerplay.


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