Today’s cuts from the Canucks roster aren’t the least bit surprising, except in that they happened today.
Seriously, did anyone know that Joseph Labate and John Negrin were still on the Canucks roster? Anyone?
Neither player appeared in the pre-season, taking their (extremely) slim chance at making the team down all the way to non-existent. Their biggest mistake? Running into Jim Benning in the halls of Rogers Arena, reminding him that they exist.
Snark aside, it is surprising that Negrin in particular hadn’t already been cut. The 26-year-old defenceman does not have an NHL contract and is only signed to the Utica Comets. He played 35 games for the Comets and 5 for the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL and did not appear in the playoffs. He’s a depth AHL defenceman, so I’m not sure why the Canucks felt the need to keep him around through two pre-season games.
Labate, on the other hand, does have a Canucks contract and is just about to enter his first professional season. The 22-year-old got off to a good start in the NCAA, putting up a respectable 20 points in 37 games, but he never really progressed. He completed his college career with seasons of 23, 22, and 18 points.
It might be worth noting that his 18 points in his senior year meant he was second on the University of Wisconsin Badgers in scoring last season. They won 4 games all season. They were really bad.
If Labate has any NHL future, he’ll need to prove it in the AHL. He wasn’t going to make the Canucks this season, but it might have been nice to see him in a pre-season game to see how he stacks up. At 6’4”, he’s certainly got NHL-ready size, aka. Brawndo (“Brawndo: it’s got what Benning craves”). Now it’s just a matter of proving that everything else is NHL-ready as well.