The Return of the Weekly Canucks Report: Week of October 9-15

Who Had a Good Week:

Derek Dorsett- Dorsett wasn’t just a Willie Desjardins favourite. Dorsett has always been a coach’s favourite throughout his career, and his deployment under Travis Green has shown why that is. Dorsett will do whatever is asked of him, and Green has him using his energy, drive, and limited skill to maximum effect. Dorsett led the team in shorthanded time on ice during the penalty-filled game against Calgary.

Brock Boeser- After his much-discussed scratching for the season’s first two games, Boeser picked up where he left off by notching two points in two games, including a trademark highlight-reel goal. Boeser is the real deal, and was easily the best player on his line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi.

anditsgoone

Michael Del Zotto- Who could have predicted that Michael Del Zotto would be leading the team in ice time? Del Zotto obviously has Green’s trust, and he’s been deployed in all situations and against the top lines of opponents. That resulted in Del Zotto being a minus five on the week, but that’s to be expected.

Chris Tanev- Is this the long-awaited offensive awakening of Chris Tanev? Tanev had two goals in three games, and looked much more active on offense in general. Tanev’s ice time was surprisingly low, but he led the defense in shorthanded time in a week that was heavy with penalties, and he managed to be only minus one in a week that contained three losses.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi- Horvat and Baertschi have been pencilled in as first line forwards for this season, but they haven’t looked like it so far. After a stellar first game, Horvat was largely invisible this week, and Baertschi has looked out of sync since the season began. Here’s hoping the presence of Brock Boeser can ignite their offensive game.

Loui Eriksson- Eriksson was pointless in his first game of the week, despite receiving ample ice time, was benched in his second, and then got injured 32 seconds into his third. That’s the definition of a rough week.

It makes one wonder how long it will be until we see something like this:

skincond

 

Thomas Vanek- Vanek had two points in three games this week, which is realistically about the best production Canuck fans can expect from him this season. However, he also looked almost comically slow on the ice, a fact that was exacerbated by playing with the similarly lead-footed Sedins. It’s hard to imagine a playoff contender not wanting a speedier option when they go looking for a rental at the deadline.

Ben Hutton- This week, in three losses, Hutton was only a minus one, and he received the second-most ice time on the team in the latter two games. However, for all that opportunity, Hutton looked particularly inept on the ice. The play seemed to die whenever it reached Hutton’s stick, and he flubbed several golden opportunities in the offensive end. This is a player who needs a rebound season badly.

 

Roster Talk:

With the injury to Loui Eriksson, Jake Virtanen likely re-enters the lineup, and for once the Canucks have a bevy of options in Utica to callup as the 13th forward. Many fans want the forward callup to be Nikolay Goldobin, who is lighting it up in Utica, but Reid Boucher and Anton Rodin are also options. Boucher might be the best fit, as whoever is called up could find themselves in the pressbox.

The team also has a number of candidates for a defensive callup to replace Alex Edler during his absence. Patrick Wiercioch, the veteran left-side D, seems the most likely, but Philip Holm or even Evan McEneny could come up instead.

When will Anders Nilsson make his season debut? Jacob Markstrom wasn’t exactly stellar this week, and next week features a heavy schedule, so it shouldn’t be long before Nilsson enters the Canuck crease.

 

Comets Report:

For once, the Comets got a Sunday off, and only played two games this week, Friday and Saturday. First, Utica visited the Rochester Americans, and walked away with a 2-0 victory and a Thatcher Demko shutout. Nikolay Goldobin scored, his second goal of the season, and Reid Boucher picked up two assists. Patrick Wiercioch had the other goal, and Carter Bancks notched the other assist.

On Saturday, the Comets bussed over to the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena to take on their rivals, the Syracuse Crunch. Once again, Thatcher Demko was in the crease, and once again he won the game, this time by a score of 3-2. Goldobin opened the scoring again, and his marker was followed by single tallies from Philip Holm and Michael Chaput. Holm also notched two assists, while Goldobin had one, while Boucher, Bancks, and Evan McEneny added single helpers. At one point, Demko came flying out of crease to get involved in a scrum started by former Comet Cory Conacher.

 

The Week Ahead:

The Canucks are in for a busy week. After two days off on Sunday and Monday, the Canucks leave on an Eastern roadtrip with four games in six nights. On Tuesday, October 17, the team will visit Alex Burrows and the Senators in Ottawa, with a 4:30PST start.

Following that, the Canucks have their first back-to-back of the year, taking on the dreaded Boston Bruins on Thursday, October 19, and the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, October 20. Both games have a 4:00PST start.

Finally, the Canucks are in Detroit to take on the lowly Red Wings on Sunday, October 22, at 4:00PST.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-The suddenly sparse attendance at Canucks games is actually a real reason to worry. There was always a question as to how the Vancouver fanbase would handle a rebuild, and there seems to be legitimate concern that the answer is “not well.” Plenty of fans are happy with the stable of young players built by Jim Benning and Trevor Linden, and it would be a real shame to see them relieved of their jobs due to low attendance before their work can pay off.

-At this point, it’s easier to list the Canuck prospects who aren’t doing well in various developmental leagues around the world. In particular, the forwards:

Kole Lind has 17 points in eight games in the WHL.

Elias Pettersson has seven assists in eight games in the top Swedish league.

Adam Gaudette has seven points in his first three NCAA games.

Petrus Palmu is the highest scoring rookie in the Finnish Liiga with ten points.

Jonah Gadjovich has nine points in eight games in the OHL.

In addition to the strong start of Goldobin in the AHL, it’s a great time for Canuck forward prospects.

-With the early indications being that the Canucks will be in the basement again this year, it’s hard not to think about the potential for adding another Benning draft class to this already-stocked prospect cupboard.

-After just one game, both the good and bad of Derrick Pouliot should be apparent to Canuck fans. With the spotty defensive play, it’s easy to see why the Penguins gave up on him, but the potential is there, and former WHL coach Travis Green might be the man to unlock it.

-Shorty without Cheech is like a hot dog without ketchup. Fans demand All John Garrett, All The Time.

-With Jared McCann scoring four points in his first four games, and Erik Gudbranson reduced to a team-low 12:08 of ice time, now Canuck fans can understand how Calgary fans must feel about Baertschi and Granlund. Gudbranson wasn’t just the defenseman with the lowest ice time, he played the least minutes of anyone except Alex Burmistrov and Loui Eriksson, who left with an injury.

Advertisements

The Case For Carrying 14 Forwards

With a maximum of 23 spots on an NHL roster, two of which are occupied by goaltenders, teams are usually forced to choose between a configuration of 14 forwards and seven defensemen or 13 forwards and eight defensemen. That is, unless they’re one of those weirdo teams that carry three goalies!

In recent years, the Vancouver Canucks have often chosen the eight D option, due to the heavy minutes logged by that position in conjunction with the brutal travel schedule the Canucks always endure. However, the particular circumstances of this preseason might make it a better idea to go with 14 forwards this time around.

 

The Battle For Forward Spots 

The competition for forward positions on the Vancouver Canucks has been intense this year, and has already claimed the roster spot of the beloved Reid Boucher. With nine of those positions occupied by sure-thing veterans (Sedin, Sedin, Horvat, Baertschi, Eriksson, Vanek, Gagner, Sutter, Granlund), the Canucks only have four spots left under the 13 forward configuration, but five under the 14 forward model.

The play of Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen in the preseason has most fans clamoring for them to make the team, and its hard to argue with the results. With those two occupying spots, and veterans Derek Dorsett and Alex Burmistrov more than likely to join them, that adds up to 13 forwards. That means no room left for any of Anton Rodin, Scottie Upshall, Nikolay Goldobin, or Brendan Gaunce when he returns.

Injuries can, and will, occur, but a 13 forward model would require Rodin to be put on waivers and Upshall to be cut loose, and both are likely to find homes with other NHL teams. By carrying 14 forwards, however, the Canucks would be able to hang onto whichever of the two they preferred. Rodin likely has the most upside of the two, but Upshall comes with the potential to return draft picks at the deadline, so it’s a tossup.

 

The Relatively Uninspiring Selection of Depth Defensemen

The risk of carrying 14 forwards is losing one or more defensemen on waivers, but the Canucks don’t exactly have an inspiring bunch back there. The top six defense is locked in, but beyond that Vancouver has a choice of Patrick Wiercioch, Alex Biega, Andrey Pedan, and Philip Holm, with Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield almost certain to be sent elsewhere for increased icetime.

None of Wiercioch, Biega, or Pedan are all that likely to be snagged on the waiver wire, and none of them would be a major loss if they were taken. Holm is waiver-exempt, but hasn’t looked like an NHL talent. The Canucks might be better off picking their favourite of the quartet as a spare d-man and then looking to youth to fill in for any injuries.

 

Call-Ups

If both Boeser and Virtanen start the year with the big club, there will be no particular forward prospects in dire need of a call-up, except for perhaps Nikolay Goldobin, who will get a chance when injuries first strike. Jonathan Dahlen should spend most of the year in the AHL.

The Utica defense, on the contrary, will feature two defensemen in particular who most fans would like to see called up at some point this season—Jalen Chatfield and Jordan Subban. Chatfield is this season’s blueline revelation, and has forced himself into consideration for NHL playing time. Subban is reaching a make-or-break point in his development, and a little big league experience could go a long way.

By carrying 14 forwards and seven defensemen, the chances of Chatfield and Subban getting into the lineup sooner rather than later increases.

 

The Potential Opening Roster

Sedin-Sedin-Gagner

Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser

Eriksson-Sutter-Vanek

Granlund-Burmistrov-Virtanen

Dorsett-Rodin/Upshall

 

Edler-Tanev

Hutton-Stecher

Del Zotto-Gudbranson

Biega/Wiercioch

 

Markstrom
Nilsson

2017-18 Vancouver Canuck Training Camp Battle Preview

The beginning of the 2017-18 NHL season is already shaping up to be a competitive one for the Vancouver Canucks. While the team itself may not be competing for the Stanley Cup, there will be plenty of internal competition in training camp, preseason, and throughout the regular season as players young and old jockey for position on a roster that is loaded with depth.

 

Forward Locks

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Bo Horvat

Sven Baertschi

Brandon Sutter 

Sam Gagner

Markus Granlund

Thomas Vanek

Loui Eriksson

Each of these players will be on the roster, barring trade or injury. That means that it is possible that all top-9 forward positions are already filled.

 

Approximate Lines:

Sedin-Sedin-Granlund

Baertschi-Horvat-Vanek

Eriksson-Sutter-Gagner/BLANK

BLANK-Gagner/BLANK-BLANK

 

If both Sutter and Gagner play at center, there will be a single top-9 wing position left open for one of the following candidates, most likely at right wing:

Top-9 Wing Candidates (Pick a maximum of one)

Brock Boeser, RW

Nikolay Goldobin, LW/RW

Anton Rodin, RW

Reid Boucher, LW/RW

Jake Virtanen, RW

Boeser, Goldobin, and Virtanen are all waiver-exempt, meaning they do not need to clear waivers to be sent down. This probably gives Rodin and Boucher the edge if this job does end up being available.

 

If one of Sutter or Gagner plays on the wing, it will mean the team is in need of someone at the 4th line center position.

4th Line Center Candidates (Pick a maximum of one)

Alexander Burmistrov

Michael Chaput

Jayson Megna

Ryan White

Griffen Molino

Burmistrov is the leading candidate here, but don’t count out a veteran presence like White, who could add some needed grit to the lineup. Chaput and Megna are always in the mix due to their versatility, and Molino is listed as a center despite probably having a future on the wing as a pro.

 

The above centers are all also candidates to fill one of the two vacant 4th line wing positions, as well as to fill in as the team’s extra forward(s), along with the following players:

4th Line Wing/Extra Forward Candidates (Pick a maximum of four, minimum of three, including above list)

Derek Dorsett, RW

Scottie Upshall, LW

Anton Rodin, RW

Reid Boucher, LW/RW

Jake Virtanen, RW

Joe LaBate, LW

Derek Dorsett is almost guaranteed to take one of these spots if he has fully recovered from his neck surgery. Scottie Upshall looks like a strong candidate on a PTO, as does Ryan White. Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin are not listed as the team would likely prefer them in Utica rather than on the 4th line or in the press box. Brendan Gaunce is not listed as he will be injured until November and then will likely complete a conditioning stint for the Comets. Jonathan Dahlen is not listed as he will almost certainly start in Utica after contracting mono.

 

Defense Locks 

Chris Tanev

Alex Edler

Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton

Erik Gudbranson

Michael Del Zotto

 The top-six defense is completely filled out for the Canucks, barring any trades or injuries. The pairings will be shuffled around, but it is these six players that will be making up those pairings.

 

That leaves between one and two spots left for extra defensemen, depending on whether the team wants to carry seven or eight defenders

Extra Defenseman Candidates (pick maximum of two, minimum of one)

Patrick Wiercioch, LD

Alex Biega, RD

Philip Holm, LD

Olli Juolevi, LD

Jordan Subban, RD

Andrey Pedan, LD

Evan McEneny, LD

The Canucks have a variety of middling defensemen to choose their extras from. Fans will want to see Jordan Subban and Olli Juolevi given opportunities, but it is likely that both will be sent elsewhere to start the year. All of Wiercioch, Biega, Pedan, and McEneny will need to clear waivers to be sent down. Philip Holm, a signing out of Sweden, is an intriguing option and a bit of a wildcard.

 

Goaltending Locks 

Jacob Markstrom

Anders Nilsson

The goaltending is all locked up. As long as no injuries occur, Markstrom and Nilsson will be sharing the Vancouver net while Richard Bachman and Thatcher Demko compete for starts down in Utica.

 

Powerplay Considerations 

Of the ten spots available on the two powerplay units, at least five are clearly spoken for:

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Troy Stecher

That leaves five remaining spots, which will be competed for between:

Thomas Vanek, Sam Gagner, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund, Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, Anton Rodin, Reid Boucher, Jake Virtanen, Alex Edler, Ben Hutton, Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Subban, Olli Juolevi 

In other words, there will be quite the battle to get a powerplay spot this time around.

 

Bonus- My Predicted Opening Night Roster: 

Sedin-Sedin-Granlund

Baertschi-Horvat-Vanek

Eriksson-Sutter-Gagner

White-Burmistrov-Dorsett

Boucher/Rodin (inj.)

 

Del Zotto-Tanev

Edler-Stecher

Hutton-Gudbranson

Holm-Subban

 

Markstrom

Nilsson

The Possibility Of The Canucks Losing A Player On Waivers This Season

The well-known glut of forwards on the Vancouver Canucks just got gluttier with the addition of Thomas Vanek and, potentially, Ryan White. Due to the crowded offense and a defense that is loaded with “tweeners,” the Canucks are actually at a real risk of losing a player or two on waivers as the 2017-18 season commences. The following players are not locks for the roster, would have to pass through waivers to be sent down to the AHL, and may draw attention from other teams. The listed forwards are quality players, with decent upside, while depth defensemen are seemingly always in demand and even moreso after the Vegas expansion.

 

Reid Boucher-

Probably the forward in this group that is most likely to hit the waiver wire. Boucher has been snagged from waivers multiple times, and looked good at the end of last season, so there’s a good chance he is plucked again.

Alexander Burmistrov-

Burmistrov is a bit of an enigma for the Canucks this season. His 26 games in Arizona last year, which yielded 14 points, were impressive, but that’s the only quality NHL play Burmistrov has provided since 2012. Centers are generally more in demand, upping his value.

Brendan Gaunce-

Gaunce is a former first round pick, but he seems to have a very limited upside at the NHL level. Still, he has the size, smarts, and general skill to be a solid 4th liner for a long time, and other teams could be looking for that.

Anton Rodin-

Rodin is a total question mark at the NHL level, but he looked great in the last preseason, and has that whole Swedish Leage MVP thing going for him. Likely that another team would take a shot at him, but unfortunately there’s an even likelier scenario.

1vhgim 

Alex Biega-

Biega has been a good soldier on some bad bluelines, but he’s probably not a genuine NHL talent. However, a veteran presence who can provide barely competent defense through sheer willpower could be attractive as a temporary fix on an injured blueline after the preseason.

Evan McEneny-

McEneny is a real longshot to be picked on waivers, but he showed his first real pro potential last season, earned a callup, and is only 23. It’s not inconceivable that a team lacking blueline depth or suffering injuries could take a chance on him.

Andrey Pedan-

Fans were a bit worried about losing Pedan on waivers last year, but probably shouldn’t be as worried this time around. He has a chance to stick with the Canucks if they carry eight defensemen, but he had an awful AHL season and hasn’t been the same since this brutal concussion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWiwXzuklxM

 

Patrick Wiercioch-

Wiercioch is the new guy with the strange name, and he’s a bit of a wild card. Wiercioch showed potential in his first two seasons with Ottawa, but has been in a steady decline since then, including a brutal season with the Avalanche last year. Still, it was Colorado, a historically bad team, so there’s reason to think he can still

The Vancouver Canucks’ Forward Glut

This is meant to be in response to recent comments regarding the possibility of signing Tomas Vanek or inviting other veteran forwards to training camp on PTOs. While PTOs are risk-free, I think that actually signing another forward would be a mistake at this point. The Canucks already have a glut at forward, and it’s going to result in some promising players not getting a chance this year. Let’s take a look.

There are either 13 or 14 forward jobs available on the Canucks this year, depending on whether they carry seven or eight defensemen.

 

Forward Locks (These players will be on the team, barring a trade or injury)

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Bo Horvat

Sven Baertschi

Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner

Loui Eriksson

Brandon Sutter

 

That’s eight of a maximum 14 jobs taken up already, with it also being extremely likely that

Derek Dorsett

is on the team if healthy. That would mean nine of 14 spots are covered.

 

(The remaining five jobs will be fought over by the following) Bubble Players

Brock Boeser

Nikolay Goldobin

Brendan Gaunce

Anton Rodin

Alexander Burmistrov

Reid Boucher

Michael Chaput

Jayson Megna

 

That’s eight players battling for four or five spots. While fans won’t be disappointed to see Chaput or Megna sent down, that’s still one or two of Boeser, Goldobin, Gaunce, Rodin, Burmistrov, or Boucher not making the team, and all are promising players. Personally, I think it’s starting to look increasingly likely that Boeser starts the season in the AHL, unless he absolutely destroys training camp.

 

(This is already a glut, and it doesn’t even consider the) Longshots

Jake Virtanen

Griffen Molino

Jonathan Dahlen

Joe LaBate

 

And all of this is as it stands now, without adding any other forwards. I seriously hope that Vanek does not sign with the Canucks, nor do any PTOs make a serious bid at making the team. It’s time to let more of the kids play.

Competition in training camp is a positive thing, but the Canucks finally have the prospect depth to provide that competition from within. No need for further bodies gumming up the works.

Jim Benning’s Retroactive Report Card: Year One

With the insanity of another Entry Draft and Free Agent Frenzy in the rearview mirror, we are again reminded of the media’s proclivity to rate teams as “winners” and “losers” before any of their recent acquisitions have actually hit the ice. As fans of the Vancouver Canucks, we’re all pretty familiar with being on the “loser” side of that prognosticating, especially since the media appears to have a fascination with belittling Jim Benning. Canuck fans must bear the slings and arrows of hockey “luminaries” like Jeff O’Neill, who proclaims the Canucks as “losers” because he doesn’t understand what they’re doing, despite a lack of evidence that Jeff O’Neill has understood anything, ever.

However, more seasoned hockey fans realize that drafts, free agency, and trading are not the sort of things that can be judged instantaneously. We must wait a number of years before actually determining whether a GM’s roster movements were positive or negative. Three years seems like the bare minimum waiting period before serious assessment can begin and, coincidentally enough, that’s exactly how long Jim Benning has now been on the job.

We’ll be taking a look at Benning’s first offseason as GM of the Vancouver Canucks, and trying to assess how well his various moves worked out, with the benefit of three years’ hindsight. The picks, signings, and trades will be graded based on how they turned out relative to expectations. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to ignore purely AHL moves, like the signing of Cal O’Reilly or the trade of Kellan Lain for Will Acton.

 

At The Draft:

In Jim Benning’s first draft with the Vancouver Canucks, the franchise selected seven players.

Jake Virtanen, RW, 6th Overall

Grade: C-

Virtanen still has a few more chances to burn before he is considered a total bust, but early returns are not exactly promising. Virtanen’s accomplishments are especially suspect when compared to those drafted shortly after him, like William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers.

 

Jared McCann, C, 24th Overall

Grade: B+

McCann isn’t an absolute steal at 24th Overall, but anytime a player can step into the league shortly after being drafted late in the First Round, it has to be considered a win. McCann might be playing for a different organization now, but it looks like he’ll be an NHL player for a long time.

 

Thatcher Demko, G, 36th Overall

Grade: A

Goalies progress slower than other prospects, so it’s hard to call the drafting of Demko a total success yet, but the early indicators are that he will be very, very good. Demko is considered one of the top goaltending prospects in the world.

 

Nikita Tryamkin, D, 66th Overall

Grade: A+

Russian defections aside, Tryamkin has already demonstrated the ability to play top-four defense at the NHL level, and he brings some truly unique physical attributes. That’s quite a valuable player to pick up with a 3rd Round Pick.

 

Gustav Forsling, D, 126th Overall

Grade: A+

Forsling is already a solid, if unspectacular, NHL defender. Unfortunately, he’s doing that defending for the Chicago Blackhawks, but that doesn’t change the fact that he represents excellent value for a 5th Round Pick.

 

Kyle Pettit, C, 156th Overall

Grade: F

It looks as though Pettit isn’t even going to earn an AHL contract, making him an outright bust. That’s not unexpected with a 6th Round Pick, but he’s still this draft’s biggest failure.

 

Mackenze Stewart, 186th Overall

Grade: D

Stewart at least signed an NHL contract and spent some time in the AHL, which is more than plenty of 7th Round Picks can say. However, that signing does seem to be a case of Benning being overly generous, so it’s hard to call this a good pick.

 

At Free Agency:

Signed Ryan Miller, G, to 3-Yr Contract @ $6mil cap hit-

Grade: B

Miller’s contract was a fair one, which isn’t always true for UFA deals. Miller was paid exactly what he should have been as a mid-calibre starting goaltender, and he played that role consistently in his three years with Vancouver. Miller gave some terrible teams more of a chance to win than they deserved, and was a good signing.

 

Signed Radim Vrbata, RW, to 2-Yr Contract @ $5 mil cap hit

Grade: B+

If this signing were graded after only one year, it would be an easy A+. However, Vrbata’s excellent first season with the Canucks was followed by a disappointing poutfest. Still, signing a top-flight UFA for only two years, and having one of those years turn out to be fantastic value, is a better result than most GMs get on July 1st.

 

Trading:

Traded Jason Garrison, D, and Jeff Costello, F, to Tampa Bay for 2nd Round Pick in 2014

Grade: B

Time has shown that Jason Garrison’s contract was not a great one, with Tampa Bay having to pay Vegas to take it during this year’s expansion draft. Therefore, getting a 2nd Round Pick in return for Garrison wasn’t a bad deal at all, even if it seemed a bit cheap given his performance level at the time.

 

Traded 2014 3rd Round Pick to New York Rangers for Derek Dorsett, RW

Grade: C

Dorsett has never performed as anything more than a fourth liner for the Canucks, which means that a 3rd Round Pick is a little rich for his acquisition. However, Dorsett has also been a valuable character asset that has been a big part of the team culture for the past three years. Without his contract extension, which would come later, Dorsett was an ideal fourth line presence.

 

Traded Ryan Kesler, C, and a 3rd Round Pick in 2015 to the Anaheim Ducks for Luca Sbisa, D, Nick Bonino, C, and 1st and 3rd Round Picks in 2014-

Grade: C+

The context is important in this one. Benning was put into an extremely tight spot by Kesler’s incredibly specific trade demands, so getting any sort of value out of this trade was a win. Sbisa was not a great asset despite some okay performances, but Bonino sure was. Unfortunately for the Canucks, Bonino’s best years would come as a Penguin. The addition of a 1st Round Pick makes this trade more even, but Kesler remains an elite talent in the league, and it would have been nice for the Canucks to cash in more on him.

 

Traded a 2nd Round Pick in 2014 to Los Angeles for Linden Vey, C-

Grade: D

Taking a gamble on Vey was a reasonable move, given his AHL success and history with Willie Desjardins. Unfortunately, that gamble did not pay off, and Vey doesn’t look like a player with a future in the NHL. He definitely wasn’t worth a 2nd Round Pick, especially given Benning’s talents at the draft table.

 

Traded Alexandre Mallet, C, and a 3rd Round Pick in 2016 to New York Islanders for Andrey Pedan, D

Grade: C

Mallet was a complete bust, but a 3rd Round Pick in 2016 was a considerable price to pay for someone in Pedan who has yet to crack the NHL. Pedan has shown glimpses of potential, and remains a valuable AHL asset, but the Canucks probably would have been better off with the draft pick.

 

 

Overall Grade: B

Excellent drafting, minus the first pick, and great value free agent signings help boost Benning’s grade against mostly mediocre trades. Not a bad first year for a team looking to add youth and restock barren prospect cupboards.

Vancouver Canucks 2017 Entry Draft Preview

Disclaimer:

I am not a scout, nor am I a hockey professional in any way. I watch a lot of NHL hockey, and some AHL, but very little of any level below that. At most, I’ve seen these players play the odd game on Sportsnet. Almost all of my knowledge regarding the following players comes solely from the opinions of others, along with some highlight packages and things like that.

 

The Picks: 

(First Round is Friday, June 23rd. The rest are Saturday, June 24th)

First Round, 5th Overall

Second Round, 33rd Overall

Second Round, 55th Overall (from Columbus for John Tortorella, lol)

Third Round,  64th Overall

Fourth Round, 95th Overall

Fourth Round, 112th Overall (from San Jose for Jannik Hansen)

(Fifth Round Pick traded for Philip Larsen)

(Sixth Round Pick traded with Nicklas Jensen for Emerson Etem)

Seventh Round, 188th Overall

 

Top Nine @ 5OA:

Gabe Vilardi, C, Windsor Spitfires, OHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 5

The Hockey News’ Rank- 3

The Good- Possession is the hottest word in hockey, and Vilardi’s got his possession game locked down. Vilardi uses his size and puck-handling abilities to control the play for his team, ensuring that they spend plenty of time on offense to help pad his impressive totals. Described as a player with great awareness and “hockey sense.” Was a major part of the Spitfires’ Memorial Cup win. 

The Bad- Vilardi’s skating has been questioned by most scouts. That’s something the Canucks have heard before, and sometimes it works out great, like with Bo Horvat. Other times, it’s not so great, like with Cody “Anakin Skywalker” Hodgson.

The Nickname Potential- “Chef Vilardi”

 

Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK, Finnish Elite League

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 3

The Hockey News’ Rank- 6

The Good- Heiskanen was a big climber in the rankings over the year, and seems to have claimed the spot as top defenseman. Heiskanen is an all-around defender who hasn’t looked out of place at either end of the ice playing against men in Finland. A true two-way defender.

The Bad- Heiskanen’s point totals aren’t anything to write home about, which suggests he’s probably not going to be a big scorer at the NHL level. Was part of an awful Finnish squad at the World Juniors.

The Nickname Potential- “The Kanen,” if he works on his shot.

 

Cody Glass, C, Portland Winterhawks, WHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 8

The Hockey News’ Rank- 10

The Good- Glass is a skilled and smart player with no glaring deficiencies in his game. He scored at a tremendous pace for the Winterhawks, and he’s got a large frame that he should be able to fill out. He’s been compared to centers like Mark Scheifele and Ryan Johansen for his blend of size and ability, and some consider him nearly on par with Nolan Patrick.

The Bad- Projections for Glass are all over the board, and that’s likely because his development isn’t quite as far along as many of his draftmates. Glass has only played two years in the WHL, so teams will be drafting him based on projected development and potential, which isn’t an exact science.

The Nickname Potential- “Not Tanner”

 

Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie, US High School/Green Bay, USHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 6

The Hockey News’ Rank- 4

The Good- Mittelstadt has incredible puck-handling abilities, and is described as having an uncanny vision in the offensive zone. He’s already physically developed, at over 200 pounds, and uses his size to bring the puck into difficult areas on the ice.

The Bad- Mittelstadt has thus far played his hockey in relatively inferior leagues, which means that his development is still quite raw. His skating isn’t a strong point, so he’ll have a doubly difficult time adjusting to the higher levels of play.

The Nickname Potential- “Casey in the Mittel” or “Mittens”

 

Cale Makar, D, Brooks Bandits, AJHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 4

The Hockey News’ Rank- 5

The Good- He’s been compared to Erik Karlsson, so he’s got that going for him. Makar is the most skilled defenseman in the draft, and he’s dominant and dynamic on the point. Makar’s skating ability allows him to control the play.

The Bad- Makar is small, and although that isn’t necessarily a hindrance, it will make the defensive game more difficult for him at the professional level. As well, Makar spent the year in the AJHL, a Jr. A circuit that is a step below the BCHL in terms of quality. That makes his developmental potential a bit of a question mark.

The Nickname Potential- “Dude, Where’s Makar?” or, for the older crowd, “Baby, You Can Drive Makar.”

 

Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle, Sweden Elitserien

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 16

The Hockey News’ Rank- 15

The Good- Liljegren started the season as a challenger for First Overall, but he dropped steadily in the rankings as the campaign wore on. However, he also started the year suffering a bout with mono, so perhaps his poor performance is explainable. Liljegren is a slick and talented defender with pro experience, and all of his ability didn’t just disappear overnight.

The Bad- All that being said, Liljegren did slide way down the draft rankings, and that traditionally isn’t a good sign. He’s described as defensively questionable, but he also played on a terrible team. Scouts obviously see something in Liljegren’s game they don’t like, and it’s never a good thing if a player’s progress plateaus before they’re drafted.

The Nickname Potential- “Lil’ Tim”

 

Elias Pettersson, C, Timra, Swedish Allsvenskan

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 7

The Hockey News’ Rank- 10

The Good- The dirtiest dangles this side of Datsyuk. Pettersson is a visionary player that seems to see the play a few steps ahead of other players. He consistently drives offense for his team, and  he has pre-established chemistry with recent acquisition Jonathan Dahlen, too, which is a nice bonus.

The Bad- Pettersson isn’t as physically developed as several of the other prospects. He’s 6’2”, but only about 160 pounds, meaning he has a lot of work to do before handling the rigors of the NHL. Some scouts wonder if he has the fortitude to make skilled plays against tougher competition.

The Nickname Potential- “Don’t Call Me Barry” or “Heavy Petter”

 

Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads, OHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 10

The Hockey News’ Rank- 7

The Good- Tippett is a goal-scoring machine, putting up 0.75 goals per game in only his second OHL season. His shot is his best weapon, and he’s skilled at getting into the high percentage shooting areas and letting it rip.

The Bad- Like many snipers, there are questions about Tippett’s work ethic and defensive abilities. Some question how often he’ll be able to get himself into a scoring position against a higher calibre of defense. He’s also a right-winger, which is a position the Canucks are unlikely to target.

The Nickname Potential- “Tipper,” “Tipsy,” or “The Tipster.” All boring, do no draft.

 

Martin Necas, C, Brno, Czech League

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 11

The Hockey News’ Rank- 12

The Good- Necas is a highly skilled centerman who showed well for the Czechs at the World Juniors despite playing on a weak squad. Necas is a two-way defender and often sacrifices offense for defense, especially this year, when he went straight from midget hockey into the top Czech League.

The Bad- Necas is slight, but could probably grow into it. He’s also fairly inconsistent, and although he was playing against men in the Czech Republic, he did only put up 15 points. The Czech League is one of the weakest ones around, and thus the quality of competition Necas has faced is low.

The Nickname Potential- “Nechazzy.” (It’s pronounced Neh-chass).

 

My Personal Ranking Of Those Nine:

1) Gabe Vilardi

2) Elias Pettersson

3) Miro Heiskanen

4) Cody Glass

5) Casey Mittelstadt

6) Cale Makar

7) Timothy Liljegren

8) Owen Tippett

9) Martin Necas

 

An Assortment Of Nine @ 33OA

To list all of the potential second rounders the Canucks might draft on June 24th would be a difficult task. It’s hard enough to predict who will be available at number five, never mind figuring out the 33rd pick! This is just an informal collection of names that have jumped out at me and have been available at or near pick 33 in various mock drafts. It is by no means a complete list.

Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown, QMJHL:

Brother of WJC member Mathieu Joseph. P-O is a puck moving defenseman who is no slouch on the defensive side. Needs lots of physical development.

 

Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane, WHL:

Anderson-Dolan was the captain for Canada at the Under-18s, but he was also held pointless. He’s small, but skilled, and his point totals skyrocketed for Spokane this year.

 

Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph, OHL:

Ratcliffe is a ginormous 6’5”, and thus has power forward potential. Still quite raw and undeveloped, but you can’t teach size, and Ratcliffe has shown glimpses of greater offensive abilities.

 

Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland, WHL:

Jokiharju is slight for a defenseman, but he plays smart, skates well, and gets the puck to where it needs to be. He had a poor playoff performance, but looked great for most of the regular season.

 

Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP, Finland:

Vaakanainen sports one heck of a name, and the Canucks have had luck with Finns lately. Vaakanainen hasn’t shown much offense anywhere except for the Under-18s, where he surprisingly put up over a point-per-game. He is a supremely smooth skater.

 

Jason Robertson, RW, Kingston, OHL:

Robertson has some of the skills of a power forward, but his skating isn’t where it needs to be to play that game. He’s a deadly sniper at the Junior level, but some question if he can play that game at a higher level.

 

Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo, USHL:

Bowers is one of those “safe picks,” with a rock-solid defensive game and enough offensive ability to pretty much guarantee him an NHL job. Probably a checking-line player at his best, however.

 

Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville, QMJHL:

Comtois is a weird case, in that his production actually went down this year after a breakout rookie campaign. Comtois was given more responsibility this year, and failed to live up to it. He does have a reputedly solid defensive game, especially for a scoring winger.

 

Grant Mismash, C, US National Team Development Program:

Mostly, I just love this player’s name. However, Mismash was also a big part of the US Gold winning team at the Under-18s, and he plays a well-rounded offensive game that should translate to the pros.

 

Top Five Canucks Most Likely To Be Traded At The Draft-

1) Draft Picks- If the Canucks do want to move up at the Draft, the traditional way to do that is with various combinations of draft picks. With two second round picks, the Canucks have plenty of flexibility, and may jump at the chance to move up and grab a player they really like. The cost to move from 5OA into the top three might not be as large as it would have been in previous years.

2) Chris Tanev- The obvious candidate, as he may hold the most trade value on the entire team aside from Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. Tanev’s age puts him just out of synch with the youth movement, and if placed on the trading block, he’d quickly become one of the most sought after commodities as a right-side, shutdown defender. A trade for Tanev is far more likely at the Entry Draft than it is before the Expansion Draft, as teams would not have to worry about protection slots anymore. However, the Canucks don’t have to trade Tanev at all, so other teams will need to offer something really astonishing to get Jim Benning to budge.

3) The Rights To Ryan Miller- The goalie market is starting to heat up, and it’s conceivable that there could be multiple suitors for Ryan Miller, and perhaps even multiple suitors in the state of California. With the league suddenly short three or more goalies post-Expansion Draft, it’s entirely possible that a team flips the Canucks a low draft pick in order to lock Miller up before the Free Agent Frenzy.

4) Luca Sbisa- Many expect Sbisa to be taken in the Expansion Draft, but if he isn’t, he might still be dealt. There will be a dearth of D-men in the league after Vegas culls their own defensive core from the herd, and with only one year remaining on his contract, Sbisa might finally be an attractive asset. If the Canucks hang on to both Tanev and Alex Edler, they might want to unload Sbisa in order to free up some space for Olli Juolevi, Philip Holm, or Jordan Subban.

5) Alex Edler- Edler, at 31, is the most logical piece for the Canucks to trade. He’s still productive, but probably not for much longer, and his value has definitely peaked. Edler also has a reasonable contract that would be attractive to multiple teams, but unfortunately that’s also the reason he most likely won’t be traded. Edler has a no-trade clause, and has stated his unwillingness to waive it in the past, as he loves the city of Vancouver. Perhaps his time playing with John Klingberg at the World Championships will entice him to take his talents to Texas?