Canucks Prospects Primer: The Forwards (part 1)
For the second year in the row the Canucks are hosting their Young Stars Tournament in Pentiction. This year they will be joined by prospects from the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets.
Whether you’re making the trip to scout the potential Canucks in person or following along at home, I have your prospect primer right here.
Today we have some top forwards to watch:
In March, the Canucks signed Steven Anthony to a 3-year entry level contract. With a Memorial Cup win under his belt, the 20 year-old is setting his sights on the AHL this season. After recording 60 points and an impressive plus-35 in the regular season he missed most of the post season due to a knee injury. He did still score 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists) in the 14 games he played.
The Canucks may have found an incredible steal when they signed Darren Archibald last December. With his size, toughness and scoring ability it’s hard to see why he was overlooked by the entire league for so long.
The 6’3″, 210 lb., 21-year-old scored 41 goals and 25 assists in the OHL last season. Now, admittedly I do have a soft spot for players who make the NHL without getting drafted, but despite some inconsistencies earlier in his junior career there is no reason to believe that Archibald can’t make an appearance on the Canucks fourth line at some point this season.
Keep an eye on him in Penticton and he just might show you something special.
20-year old Alex Friesen also played his final season with the Niagra Ice Dogs last season, finishing fourth in team scoring with 66 points (26 goals – 40 assists). That stands out, not only as a career high but also as a testament to the steady progress he made through four years in the OHL. Although he does handle the puck well, what caught my attention was his physical play. He already has an impressive list of fight cards at hockeyfights.com and this hit on Taylor Hall means that Oilers fans won’t need to come up with their own reasons to hate on him.
Friesen won’t be ready to make the NHL jump this season, but he is an incredibly hard worker and should be worth keeping an eye on in the next few years.
18 year-old Danish boy Nicklas Jensen was selected by the Canucks in the first round of this years draft. And not just so fellow countryman, Jannik Hansen, would have someone to talk to in the locker room.
After being named Rookie of the Year in the Danish league (which, to be fair, isn’t saying all the much when coming from a country that has produced a grand total of seven NHLers…ever), Jensen was drafted by the Oshawa Generals. He spent last season there – his rookie season in the CHL – and recorded 58 points (29 goals – 29 assists) in 61 games.
A combination of quick skating and nice hands made the kid a tough guy to defend against in juniors, but he’ll need to grow into his 6’2 frame before turning pro. He could prove to be entertaining to watch in Penticton, but Danish Canuck fans will have to make due with Hansen for the time being.
Some people have viewed first round pick Jordan Schroeder as a potential draft bust, but I think it’s much too earlier to call it just yet.
After receiving a lot of attention at his first NHL training camp last September, Schroeder was set to have a promising season with the Moose. He recorded 3 assists in his first game of the season. Unfortunately, he suffered a high ankle sprain in December, sat out 16 games and was never the same afterwards. He recorded just 28 points in 61 games, plus another 6 points in the postseason.
With Vancouver appearing to be looking for some size and grit this season in seems unlikely that Schroeder, who weighs in at 180 and is listed as a generous 5’9, will crack the starting roster, at least not this season.
Bill Sweatt joined his brother Lee as a potential Canuck last preseason after failing to sign a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the summer. Although he didn’t crack the NHL in his first attempt, I was prepared to like him before he even rolled into town. Not only did he provide another brotherly connection on the Canucks roster, he also managed to piss off Toronto fans before he even hit the ice, adding a bit of zest to his background (late in the season he was still getting the occasional angry tweet from Toronto haters).
Sweatt excelled in Manitoba last season, recording 46 points (19 goals – 27 assists) in 80 games, good enough to finish second in team scoring. This will be Sweatt’s second Young Stars tournament, so he’ll be coming in with more to prove this time around, especially if he wants to see more than the three NHL games big brother Lee played last season.
Local boy Prab Rai received a lot of attention at last years prospect camp. Not only does he hail from Surrey, but should he ever make the jump to the NHL, he’ll be only the third player of East Indian descent to do so (after Manny Malhotra). A solid back story was further enhanced by the fact that the kid could actually play some hockey.
Rai has some serious speed on the ice and handles the puck well, although he tends to stay away from high-traffic areas. Rai hoped to spend the 2010-11 season with the Manitona Moose, but a nagging back injury essentially lost him his rookie season.
If he has made a full recovery he could stir up some excitement this season. After all, everyone loves cheering for a home town boy.
So what do you think? Any chance we’ll be seeing any of these guys on Vancouver ice? Let me know!