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Mattias Ohlund, entering 11th season, expects to stay with Vancouver

VANCOUVER - Now the longest-serving member of the Vancouver Canucks, defenceman Mattias Ohlund hopes he stays with the team.

Ohlund is entering his 11th season with the Canucks. There has been speculation recently that the Swede could be moved as new general manager Mike Gillis looks to bolster his offence.

But the 32-year-old Ohlund, who has a no-trade clause, expects to stay with the only NHL club for which he's played. He is entering the option year of a four-year contract that will pay him US$3.5 million this season.

"I've got one year left and I'm extremely happy to be here," Ohlund said. "Obviously, it's a good fit and I'd like to stay. If not, I'll move on and that'll be fine, too."

No contract discussions have occurred with Gillis, but Ohlund said he was not disappointed by the lack of discussions.

"I met him a couple times since he started working here," said Ohlund. "We didn't get into any specifics."

Ohlund sidestepped the question of whether he would waive his no-trade clause.

"I've never been asked," he said. "As far as I know, I'll be here."

He could fetch a lucrative new deal with another team in the off-season, because many teams would covet his offensive prowess and defensive dependability.

While open to moving on, he is also willing to negotiate a new deal with Vancouver during the season.

Meanwhile, Ohlund's more immediate concerns are to help the Canucks return to the playoffs - and rebound from one of the most difficult seasons in his career.

After scoring a career-high 23 goals in 2006-07, he managed just nine, along with 15 assists, last season while playing only 53 games because of head and knee injuries and a four-game suspension for an uncharacteristic stick-swinging incident in which Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild suffered a broken leg.

Ohlund's 24 points in 2007-08 marked the second-lowest of his career. He managed only 20 in 1999-2000 when he was sidelined for 38 games because of an eye injury suffered in pre-season.

"When I played, I felt good," Ohlund said. "Obviously, when you miss a lot of time, it's tough to get into a rhythm, but I feel good. I feel relaxed. For me, if I can stay healthy, I see no reason why I can't continue to improve."

He got off to a good start by scoring in Vancouver's first pre-season game, a 4-3 shootout victory in Edmonton.

It was a good omen.

Two seasons ago, Canucks defencemen led the NHL in scoring among rearguards as the club advanced to the second round of the playoffs. But Vancouver's blue-liners struggled to produce points last season while being decimated by injuries. The Canucks missed the playoffs after losing seven of their last eight games.

"Every successful team needs to have their D being a big part of the offence," said Ohlund. "With the guys we have, Sami (Salo) and Kevin (Bieksa) and Alex (Edler) who is turning into a very good player, we have all the tools to produce from on D."

In addition to offence, said centre Ryan Kesler, the Canucks can expect strong leadership from Ohlund. He's considered a candidate to become captain after ex-skipper Markus Naslund signed with the New York Rangers in the off-season and veteran centre Brendan Morrison signed a similar free-agent deal with Anaheim.

"He's a guy that goes out and plays hard every shift," said Kesler of Ohlund. "You know what you're going to get from him."

NOTES: Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault has not made any cuts yet. The Canucks close out the pre-season Saturday in San Jose and Sunday in Anaheim.


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