Since Mike Gillis took over as Canucks GM, there has been a lot of talk about pouring more resources into scouting and player development. After two off-seasons now, it’s easy to see the positive impacts this has had in the system.
I don’t think it’s a secret that Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner disappointed this preseason, but looking at the bigger picture, we’ve now found out that the organization is deep enough that the team doesn’t have to rush them into the big leagues. They can afford to keep guys like Jordan Schroeder (NCAA), Anton Rodin (Sweden) and Kevin Connauton (WHL) where they can develop better. And while it’s disappointing to see that Hodgson and Grabner aren’t ready for regular NHL duty, it’s easier to digest because others like Sergei Shirokov, Mason Raymond and Kyle Wellwood seem ready to take on bigger roles.
The pro scouting has improved as well. It wasn’t long ago that the Canucks were signing players like Tommi Santala and Brad Isbister to round up the roster. This summer, Gillis signed college players Eric Walsky and Evan Oberg and under-the-radar players like Tanner Glass, Matt Pope, Aaron Rome and Michael Funk – all of these guys made good impressions on the Canucks brass, and Glass and Rome specifically may have moved right up to the top of the team’s depth chart.
IMHO, the Canucks just finished what was probably their most competitive training camp in their history. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happened at a time when there are players on the bottom part of the system that are able to push the ones on top.