VANCOUVER – Marco Sturm wants to make the most of the second chance given to him by the Vancouver Canucks.
The free-agent signing was on the ice this week as some Vancouver players prepared for the team’s training camp that opens later this month. Sturm, who turns 33 next Thursday, skated with smooth strides and didn’t seem to show any affects of a knee that has bothered him the last few seasons.
“I’m healthy,” said the native of Dingolfing, Germany, flashing a wide grin. “I feel good. Hopefully I can show it on the ice.”
The Canucks are gambling Sturm returns to the form that saw him score 20 or more goals seven times in his 14-year career.
There were some eyebrows raised when the Canucks signed Sturm to a one-year deal worth US$2.25-million on the first day of free agency.
He had a combined five goals and 11 assists in 35 games with the L.A. Kings and Washington Capitals in 2010-11. During the playoffs he had an goal and two assists in nine games with Washington.
“In free agency I was hoping for a good team,” said Sturm. “That’s what I got.
“I’ve scored 20 goals before. That’s my goal to be back to the player I was before injury.”
Sturm was playing for the Boston Bruins when he tore his ACL and MCL during the 2010 playoffs. That resulted in his second knee operation in two years.
He started last season with the Los Angeles Kings but played just 17 games, scoring four goals and adding five assists. The Kings put him on waivers, where he was claimed by Washington. Sturm scored one goals in 18 games with the Capitals.
He feels much more confident heading into this season with the Canucks, who lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to Boston.
“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.”
The Canucks will be looking at Sturm to bring some scoring punch to a lineup that is hobbled by injuries.
Centre Ryan Kesler is expected to miss training camp, and possibly some early games, after undergoing off-season hip surgery. Left-winger Mason Raymond isn’t expected to return until November after suffering a vertebrae compression fracture in Game 6 of the final against Boston.
Veteran Mikael Samuelsson also had surgery for an abdominal injury but has given himself the all clear.
Sturm was drafted 21st overall by the Sharks in 1996. The six-foot, 194-forward was traded to Boston in November 2005 as part of the deal that saw Joe Thornton go to San Jose.
He missed most of the 2008-09 season recovering from a knee injury suffered in a Dec. 18 game against Toronto.
Sturm returned the next season to score 22 goals for the Bruins. During his career Sturm has scored 27 goals in a season twice and 28 once.
He doesn’t see any problem fitting in with the Canucks, who like to play a fast-skating game.
“I can play either wing on every line,” he said. “I’m pretty simple and straight forward.
“I think the team is good enough to help me get it going again.”