Next chapter for Big O

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

VANCOUVER - The old adage "don't judge a book by its cover" clearly applies to Victor Oreskovich.

One look at the Canuck forward's 6-foot-3, 215-lb frame and a college degree holder doesn't come to mind.

His name doesn't necessarily give the impression of a Canadian-born kid of Italian- Croatian descent.

And after a quick glance at his career, including the two years he was out of hockey, it's hard to fathom where he is now.

But that's Oreskovich for you.

Born in Whitby, Ont., and raised in Oakville, the 24-year-old graduated from the University of Notre Dame.

After signing with the Colorado Avalanche on a two-year, entry-level deal, he was sent down to the minors following training camp. He then quit hockey, citing burnout, returning to school to finish his finance degree.

"I wanted something to fall back on," he said, stressing the importance of education in his family. "In this business, there's no guarantees."

But with a desire to return, he began his comeback with the Florida Panthers last season where he played 50 games. He was traded to Vancouver at the 2010 draft in a deal involving Keith Ballard.

"I was in the real world for a little bit and it's interesting to see how competitive that is," the former Kitchener Ranger said. "I'm really fortunate to have that second opportunity to come back and play hockey."

At the moment, Oreskovich is a bubble player trying to crack the Canucks lineup.

Tuesday in Vancouver, Oreskovich will skate alongside Peter Schaefer and Rick Rypien against Calgary in an exhibition game.

If he sticks to his style - which he says is to make the opponent's life difficult -and stay consistent throughout preseason, a bottom six role is within grasp.

"My ability to skate well at my size and my weight, that's my best attribute," he said. "I really want to be aggressive. I like to play physical and that's when I'm at my best."

And if he needs any extra motivation, the upcoming season is the final one of his contract prior to becoming a restricted free agent in the summer.

"This is the year I want to establish myself as a good NHL player," he said. "I want to be here."


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