MANCHESTER — Tim Schaller’s first NHL season with the Vancouver Canucks did not go as planned.
The 28-year-old forward from Merrimack had his best year as a professional during the 2017-18 season, which marked his second with the Boston Bruins. Schaller recorded a career-high 22 points (12 goals, 10 points) over regular-season 82 games with Boston that year before signing a two-year deal with Vancouver that offseason.
The Merrimack High School and Providence College product registered 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 47 games with the Canucks last season. The 47 games were a career-low for Schaller over his three full NHL seasons.
Vancouver finished fifth in the Pacific Division and missed the Stanley Cup playoffs last year.
“I was hoping to play a little more, produce a little more,” Schaller said during his appearance with former MLB pitcher and New Hampshire native Chris Carpenter at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ game against the Portland Sea Dogs Monday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. “Whether that was on me or something I did, whatever it is, it’s in the past now and I’m working extra hard this summer to have kind of like a comeback season for myself and prove people wrong next year.”
Schaller, who began his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres, said being in a new city far from home threw him off a little bit last season.
“I think just being so far away, I think I tried to change too much,” Schaller said. “But I think I need to go back to the basics and that’s what I’m doing this summer ... going back to the basics of what was working a couple years ago. When I get back out there, I’ll be doing the same thing I’m doing now and I’m sure the stars will align.”
Schaller recorded his first two points with the Canucks, which were both assists, in a 3-2 overtime win at Pittsburgh Oct. 16. It was Schaller’s fourth game with Vancouver.
“I wish I could have done that a little bit more often but that’s how hockey works,” Schaller said. “I’m taking that game and hoping to play 82 games just like that all next season. That’s my goal.”
At times last season, Schaller was a regular in the Canucks’ lineup. At other points, he endured long stretches as a healthy scratch. Schaller played in 12 of Vancouver’s 14 October games but only two of its 14 February contests.
“You’ve got to take practices even more serious because you’re not getting repetitions from games so you have to stay after practice on the ice and work that much harder,” Schaller said of his mindset when he was fighting to earn a spot in the lineup. “It’s tough mentally but unfortunately it was almost a norm for me out there so I found a good rhythm for myself and whenever I got back in the lineup, I played just fine. Hopefully I don’t have to worry about that again.”
Schaller felt he lost his athleticism last year so he has put more emphasis on track and agility work this offseason in an effort to regain it. He is working out back in New Hampshire and skating in Massachusetts this summer.
Schaller enters every season looking to tally at least 10 goals and 10 assists. The fact Schaller’s next campaign is a contract year will provide him with added motivation, he said.
“My last year with the Bruins, I think I really showed what I can do in this league and if I can get back to those numbers, which I know I can, my career will be prolonged that much longer,” Schaller said.
Gavin Bayreuther will remain in Dallas for at least another season. The 25-year-old defenseman from Canaan signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Dallas Stars on July 8.
The St. Lawrence University product has spent each of his three pro campaigns in the Stars’ organization and made his NHL debut last year against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 16.
Bayreuther recorded five points (two goals, three assists) over 19 games with Dallas and another 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) over 53 AHL games with Texas last year.
Bayreuther’s teammate in Dallas last season and fellow Granite Stater Ben Lovejoy is currently an unrestricted free agent. The 35-year-old defenseman from Orford recorded nine points (two goals, seven assists) over his time with the Stars and New Jersey last season.
Lovejoy played in 51 games for the Devils and another 20 for Dallas after he was traded from New Jersey to the Stars on Feb. 23.