Vancouver Canucks – August 30 in 30

by Cam Robinson on August 28, 2016

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While the Vancouver Canucks have taken a significant stumble down the standings from their days of winning back-to-back President’s Trophies in 2011 and 2012, their prospect pipeline has certainly been trending in the right direction. This is in large part to the hiring of oft-maligned GM, Jim Benning and a re-shuffling of the scouting department.

 

The career-scout has demonstrated a very keen eye for talent during his stints with Buffalo, Boston and now Vancouver. He has consistently unearthed talent from outside the top of the first round and even into the later stages of the entry draft.

 

He’s been apart of three drafts with the Canucks thus far, and its just enough time to fully dig into his first, back in 2014. There, he found Jake Virtanen(6th), Jared McCann (24th), Thatcher Demko (36th), Nikita Tryamkin (66th) and Gustav Forsling (126th) with his first five picks.

 

Even if you’re not a Canucks’ fan you have likely heard these names as Virtanen, McCann and Tryamkin have already seen time in the NHL; Demko was the best goaltender in college hockey and a Hobey Baker Finalist and the right-shooting defender, Forsling has lit up the WJC in consecutive years – now as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

 

Benning addressed a significant hole in the depth chart this past June by selecting highly efficient and skilled Finnish defenseman, Olli Juolevi with the fifth pick overall. The Canucks now boast a top end prospect in net, on the back end and a couple on the wing.

 

All that’s left is to try and find a suitable number one centre replacement for Henrik Sedin. That shouldn’t be difficult, right?


 

Prospect Depth Chart

 

     Left Wing                Center            Right Wing

Joseph Labate

Brendan Gaunce

Brock Boeser

Michael Carcone

Cole Cassels

Jake Virtanen

Jakob Stukel

Dmitry Zhukenov

Anton Rodin

Ludwig Blomstrand

Adam Gaudette

Alexandre Grenier

 

Mike Zalewski

Lukas Jasek

 

Yan-Pavel Laplante

William Lockwood

 

Rodrigo Abols

 
 

Brett McKenzie

 

 

    Left Defense            Right Defense             

Olli Juolevi

Jordan Subban

Nikita Tryamkin

Troy Stecher

Andrey Pedan

Carl Neill

Guillaume Brisebois

 

Ashton Sautner

 

Evan McEneny

 

 

      Goaltenders

Thatcher Demko

Michael Garteig

 

** Recently Graduated**

  • Sven Baertschi (LW)

  • Markus Granlund (C)

  • Ben Hutton (RHD)

 

Risers:

 

Brock Boeser Few players can boast a season quite like Brock Boeser experienced as a freshman at North Dakota. The 19-year-old winger stepped right onto the first line and together with Blackhawks’ first-rounder, Nick Schmaltz and Oilers’ signee, Drake Caggula formed one of the most lethal lines in the NCAA. Boeser finished third in the nation with 60 points in just 42 games and his 27 goals were fourth best. If it weren’t for Kyle Connor’s amazing season, Boeser would have been far and away the most impressive first-year player. Did we mention he scored four points in the National Championship winning game? Boeser will return to UND looking to lead the new crop of youngsters as the the Fighting Hawks attempt to defend their title.


 

Brock Boeser 2015-16 NCAA Highlights


 

Adam Gaudette Another NCAA freshman makes the list. Gaudette was taken in the fifth round by Vancouver in 2015 and was expected to play another season in the USHL before heading to Northeastern University. He decided last minute to make the jump, and after some early growing pains, rattled off 25 points in his final 23 games, helping the Huskies to a Hockey East Championship.

 

Jordan Subban – The youngest Subban brother possesses tantalizing offensive capabilities, unfortunately it’s wrapped up in a 5’9 frame. His first professional season has to be considered a strong success as he found a balance between his explosive offense and handling much bigger forwards in the defensive zone. Subban finished the AHL campaign with 36 points in 67 games and will look to continue honing his game on both sides of the puck next season. As right-handed offensive defender’s value continues to spike, this stocky, righty could be making waves on Vancouver’s backend in the not-so-distant future.

 

Fallers:

 

Cole Cassels Cassels came into his first professional season on the heels of a Memorial Cup Championship where he played through obvious abdominal and hip injuries. Those ailments cost him months of rehab and placed the eight-ball a mile away as he adjusted to the much quicker AHL game. Cassels’ game improved by season’s end, but he’ll need a big offseason to gain strength and some much needed quickness. His instincts and hockey mind are very evident, but he’ll need to show it on the scoreboard a lot more frequently.

 

Lukas Jasek – There isn’t a lot of pressure on Jasek to crack an NHL lineup and produce. Taken in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, the 19-year-old struggled to find a home last season, bouncing between the Under-20 circuit, the Czech second and third leagues and 25 games with the top league team. At last check he weighed a mere 170lbs so strength will be important, but finding regular minutes in the top men’s league is crucial is he wishes to continue on a path towards the NHL.

 

Updated Top 10 Prospects

 

  1. Brock Boeser (RW)

A highly-skilled player who loves to enter into the high-danger scoring areas. Boeser can unleash a deadly-accurate shot in the blink of an eye, often changing his release point to fool goaltenders. He is creative, determined and offers a strong two-way game which will help in his transition to the NHL. The young American will look to improve on his quickness this season before most likely turning pro in the spring.

 

  1. Thatcher Demko (G)

Arguably the best goaltender in the NCAA for the past two seasons, the Hobey Baker finalist recouped from double hip surgeries a year ago to post a 1.88 GAA and .935 save percentage with 10 shutouts as a junior for Boston College. He’s a big and talented goaltender who has poise beyond his years and a clear desire to be the best. He’s got all the skills to be a premier workhorse, but you can’t rush development.

 

  1. Olli Juolevi (LHD)

The highest draft pick since the Sedins in 1999, Juolevi’s numbers in the OHL aren’t eye-popping, but he possesses the silky skills that should bode well for strong totals next season and beyond. The 18-year-old can pass or skate out of almost any situation, runs a power play with aplomb and gets his shots through to the net with consistency. He’ll be pushing for a roster spot this fall but look for 2017-18 as his year to break in.

 

  1. Jake Virtanen (RW)

Virtanen offers a blend of power and speed that is unmatched in the Canucks’ organization. Now eligible to play in the AHL after a full season in Vancouver last year, the hard-hitting right-winger may spend a good chunk of the season in Utica, working on regaining the scoring touch that netted him 45 goals as a draft eligible player for the Calgary Hitmen.

 

  1. Jordan Subban (RHD)

Subban offers the full package of offensive skills. His skating is sublime and his edge work allows him to shift at top speed to avoid defenders. He can run a power play, hold the line like a pro, and offers both a booming one-timer and a crisp, quick wrist shot. He’ll need some more time, but if given the opportunities and surrounded with talent, could be a real producer at the NHL-level.

 

  1. Brendan Gaunce (C/LW)

The power forward can play centre or wing and offers a very cerebral and efficient game. His foot speed needs continued work, but he finds a way to produce points. His two-way game will be a big help in breaking into the league and then it’ll be up to him to force his way up the line up.

 

  1. Dmitri Zhukenov (C/W)

The slick playmaker transitioned well into the CHL this past season. He offers explosive acceleration and shifty, cerebral moves through the neutral zone. He prefers to set his team mates up to shooting it himself, so adding a more dynamic shot would open up further options for the 19-year-old Russian. Has the skills to be a top six forward, but plenty of strength and development is still needed.

 

  1. Adam Gaudette (C)

A historically underrated player, Gaudette uses a mixture of tenacity and skill to overwhelm opposition, and unleash a very accurate and heavy shot. Gaudette will look to build off the strong finish in 2015-16 in his sophomore season. His two-way play will help him transition to the professional ranks with more ease than some others.

 

  1. Cole Cassels (C)

A challenging first season in the AHL has dropped Cassels’ stock a bit. He still possesses fantastic vision and two-way acumen, but his offensive ceiling may be more in line with a bottom six pivot. Some added strength and speed could make all the difference in the world.

 

  1. Troy Stecher (RHD)

Signed as an undrafted-free agent out of the University of North Dakota, the local B.C. product will immediately jump into a top four spot on the AHL’s Utica Comets. The right-shooting defender doesn’t offer much size, but plays a smart and efficient game; very much in the mold of the new breed of hybrid NHL defensemen. His speed is evident but some time learning the professional game is needed. He’ll push for a spot in 2017-18.

 

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News and Notes

  • The Canucks will participate in the annual Young Stars tournament from September 16 – 19 in Penticton, B.C. There they will put their top prospects up against Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton’s crops.

 

  • Rookie camp invite, Michael Carcone impressed the Canucks’ brass enough to not only receive an invite to the prospects’ tournament, but also a three-year entry-level contract. The former QMJHL scoring star stands just 5’9 and 175lbs, but brings a high level of skill and compete.

 

  • The Canucks signed another former QMJHL player in Yan-Pavel Laplante. A former third round selection by the Coyotes in 2013, Laplante was unsigned and then passed over in the 2015 draft, thus becoming a free-agent. He projects as more of a bottom six forward with strong penalty killing ability.

 

  • 2009 2nd round selection, Anton Rodin is returning from Sweden after winning the regular season MVP award. The talented right-winger signed a one-year contract last spring and is hoping to be healthy following a nasty injury where his knee tendon was almost completely severed. Rodin possesses a great deal of offensive skills and should be given a good opportunity in the Canucks’ top six. He is a potential sleeper in deep leagues.


 

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Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy and prospect advice.