Sep 3, 2011, 4:49 PM EDT
Last season, Marco Sturm battled back from injury to find his way back to the ice after missing most of the season recovering from knee surgery. The Bruins sent him to Los Angeles and while there he scored four goals in just 17 games before being sent to Washington. With the Capitals, things didn’t get much better for the 32 year-old German scoring just one goal in 18 regular season games and one more goal in the playoffs.
For a guy who was a consistent 25-goal a year player, scoring just five goals in what was essentially a rehab season was a huge let down. With a new season ahead of him and a new contract to play in Vancouver, Sturm wants to show that he’s still got the offensive ability that helped make him a useful second line player with the Sharks and Bruins in the past.
Sturm is hoping to show Canucks GM Mike Gillis and coach Alain Vigneault that their $2.25 million investment in him for this season won’t go for naught.
“I still think I’m young,” he said. “It should be a good time.
“I worked hard enough in the summer. I want to stay healthy. Last year I probably came back a little bit too early. I could never catch up. Now I feel good. I had all summer to get stronger again.”
Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis thinks Sturm is eager to prove he has more gas left in the tank.
“I think he’s overcome the injuries,” said Gillis. “I think we got him at a point in his career when he was very excited to be playing on a team he knows is a good hockey team.
“He’s very excited to start the season here and get established. We’ve got high expectations of him and he’s got high expectations for himself.”
Sturm will have hard work ahead of him to prove himself. Playing in a new system and not having Ryan Kesler there alongside him to start the year as he recovers from offseason surgery will make the start of the season a bit more difficult. Luckily for him he’ll have plenty of veteran help with him. Mikael Samuelsson will be back from injury and guys like Manny Malhotra, Maxim Lapierre, and Chris Higgins could find their way on to the second line while Kesler is out.
That said, Sturm will need to show he’s still got something because the Canucks will need his production. Kesler’s absence coupled with Mason Raymond still recovering from his injury in the Stanley Cup finals means their depth at forward will be tested greatly. While it was defensive injuries that hurt the Canucks last year, it’s forward issues that will hurt them to start the season. The Canucks’ top line of the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows remains in tact, but everyone else will need to step up to make sure that line doesn’t get buried nightly. A healthy and scoring Marco Sturm can make those woes dissipate to get Vancouver off on the right foot.
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