Sturm could be Canucks' missing piece

The Vancouver Canucks are hoping new addition Marco Sturm can add an extra dimension to the squad that won the Presidents' Trophy, but fell a Game 7 short of lifting the Stanley Cup.

Oft-injured forward aiming to regain top form with Vancouver

New Vancouver Canucks winger Marco Sturm, right, battles with Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry during pre-season NHL action. Sturm is healthy and ready to prove himself with the Stanley Cup runners up this season. ((Jae Hong/Associated Press))

For the last four months, the Vancouver Canucks have been searching for the answer to a question uniquely their own: How do you change a team that won the Presidents' Trophy and fell one game 7 short of lifting the Stanley Cup?

Add to this question the complications of injuries incurred by that deep playoff run. Mason Raymond won't return until November at the earliest after suffering a vertebrae compression fracture and Ryan Kesler will also miss some early games recovering from hip surgery.

Then there's the other holes left by free-agent departures Christian Ehrhoff, Raffi Torres and Tanner Glass to name a few that would make a 'repeat plus one' even more difficult.

While the team will get healthier and the core nucleus is intact, the Canucks still need to figure out what was missing.

Enter Marco Sturm.

The native of Dingolfing, Germany, was Vancouver's most notable signing in the off-season, inking a one-year, $2.25 million US contract on the opening of free agency. The signing had a few people scratching their heads, however, wondering how the oft-injured Sturm, joining his fourth team in three seasons, make a difference? 

But the Canucks — a team looking to go the distance — could just be the perfect fit for the 33-year-old winger, who is looking to find some measure of redemption.

Healthy and ready to go

Like the team he's joining, Sturm knows about injuries. He's undergone two major knee surgeries over the past three years, but the Canucks are banking on a return to form.

"I think he's overcome the injuries," Canucks' GM Mike Gillis said. "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 also knows how close you can come to a Stanley Cup without it being firmly in your grasp, having been traded from the eventual 2011 champs in Boston in 2010, waived by the L.A. Kings at the end of that year and then ousted in the second round with cup-contender Washington Capitals this past post-season.

Vancouver a favourite city

Now, the seven-time 20-goal scorer has found a home in the Canucks' top six forward while he and his family have found a home in British Columbia.

"[Vancouver's] been even better than I thought," Sturm told the Vancouver Sun. "I knew from when I played in San Jose and in the West that Vancouver was always one of my favourite cities. But I only saw the downtown area, that's it.

"But now living here and seeing a bit more of the area – we have been to Whistler and stuff like that – it's just beautiful here." As for his place in the lineup, Sturm is slotted in on the left side of a second line featuring youngster Cody Hodgson and fellow veteran Mikael Samuelsson, in a system he says fits.

"I can play either wing on every line," Sturm said. "I'm pretty simple and straightforward. I think the team is good enough to help me get it going again."

And, the Canucks hope, the reverse is also true.

With files from The Canadian Press