When Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis was first handed the top job, he stated 3 traits he wanted from his players – hockey intelligence, character and integrity. When Kyle Wellwood reported to training camp out of NHL shape, it called into question whether he possessed any of those traits. Guys in Toronto called him lazy. Fans called him fat. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault called him out:
“His commitment to conditioning and being a professional athlete probably wasn’t where it needed to be for him to have success,” said Vigneault. “His test results showed from early July [to training camp] significant improvements. That being said, it’s still not NHL calibre.”
What is NHL calibre, however, is Wellwood’s scoring touch.
In the Canucks’ 5-4 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks last night – by the way, the Canucks are now 4-0 in the preseason – Wellwood scored a beauty of a goal in regulation time and the shootout winner. In three preseason games, he has 3 points (1G-2A) plus 2 shootout goals. He’s won 59% of his faceoffs (22/37), including a whopping 70% over the weekend (14/20).
That’s not to say that Wellwood has played well. In fact, he’s been invisible for the most part and the only time I’ve noticed him is when he puts the puck into the back of the net.
It’s no secret that the Canucks need Wellwood’s offense – he has that in spades – but so far anyway, it doesn’t look like he has what Gillis wants in a player.
Is that enough to get him on the team?