Jun 262009
 

With the NHL Entry draft only a few hours away, the rumor mill is running rampant.

Have the Canucks re-signed Roberto Luongo to a long-term extension? According to John Buccigross, he has; according to others, not quite but close.

Have the Canucks acquired the negotiating rights to Jay Bouwmeester? As much as they’d like to, Mike Gillis isn’t too keen at the price.

Are the Canucks moving up to draft Team Canada defenseman, Ryan Ellis? Talk is that they’re interested.

Are the Canucks close to acquiring Dany Heatley? Well, the Canucks may be on Heatley’s wish list but the latest word is that the Senators haven’t received any formal offers yet.

Has Marian Gaborik moved in his new digs yet? Well, of course not, but we’ll see on July 1st.

Should be a fun day.

Jun 232009
 

Typically during this time of year, there’s a lot of talk about organizational needs. With the Canucks’ prospect cupboard nearly bare – only Cory Schneider, Michael Grabner, Cody Hodgson and Sergei Shirokov (if the Russians let him leave for North America) may be ready to make the jump to the NHL in the next year or two – the smart ass in me says that they simply need to draft players – regardless of position – who can have an impact. But that said, the Canucks do have one, big, obvious need: they need players who can provide some offense.

1) They don’t have any puckmoving defensemen in their system.

This has been an organizational weakness for a long time. Sami Salo (when healthy), Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler fill the need with the big club, but should any of them leave (Salo is on the final year of his contract), the Canucks don’t have anyone ready to step in. Their top defensive prospects at the moment are Yann Sauve, Taylor Ellington and Evan Oberg and none of them are nearly ready for the NHL. (Plus, Ellington is projected to be a defensive defenseman anyway.)

2) They lack proven scorers in their system.

As good as Cody Hodgson has been, he’s not projected to be an elite offensive player; rather, he’s projected to be a complete, two-way player. Michael Grabner has shown that he can finish at the AHL level, but his inconsistency tells me he may not be ready to make jump to the NHL just yet. After Hodgson and Grabner, the talent drops off considerably. I realize it still may be a bit early to judge the 2007 draft, but I do wonder about selecting Patrick White and Ellington when both David Perron and Oscar Moller were still available. As it stands right now, both Perron and Moller would look good in the Canucks organization.

For the first time since 1998, the Canucks hold picks in every round. Also, this year’s draft is a fairly deep one with a lot of players that fit their needs – David Runblad, Calvin de Haan, Toni Rajala, among others. (Alix has already previewed some of these players.) Needless to say, the Canucks have a good opportunity to quickly restock their prospect cupboard, and if they do they’re pre-draft homework, hopefully a few of their picks develop into regular NHLers.

*****

Incidentally, Alix will be in Montreal this weekend for the NHL Entry Draft. Check back later this week for her first-hand accounts on the weekend and the new Canucks.

Jun 122009
 

I started writing this post to point out the Canucks’ God-awful drafting history – after all, not one single Canucks draft pick since 2006 has suited up for the team yet – but with Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson seemingly having taken further steps in their development this season and news that 2006 6th round draft pick Sergei Shirokov has agreed to a deal in principle this week to come to North America, I had to give pause and revisit what I wanted to say.

While Dave Nonis and Mike Gillis have made decent strides in selecting NHL-caliber players in recent years, the Canucks obviously aren’t on par with the Detroits and New Jerseys of the drafting world. To be sure, the team had ten of their own draft picks play for them last season (Ohlund, Sedins, Bieksa, Kesler, Schneider, Edler, Brown, Hansen and Raymond), including six from the 2003-2005 drafts (Kesler, Schneider, Edler, Brown, Hansen and Raymond). If (when) Hodgson, Grabner and Shirokov somehow make the team, obviously the list of homegrown talent becomes more impressive.

I can’t remember the last time the Canucks drafted this well for consecutive years. And I can’t remember the last time they had this many of their own draft picks play for them – and play key roles too. Too often, the Canucks have had drafts like the 2000 and 2002 ones that don’t produce regular NHL players. (The jury is still out on the 2007 draft.)

Who knows? Maybe the team has indeed turned a corner in this regard. If they can continue to draft – and develop – well, then it bodes well for them in this salary cap world. With Mike Gillis putting in additional resources towards scouting and player development, the hope is that they can.

Oct 202008
 
New Canucks jersey?

Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports

I was watching the Vancouver Canucks try and kill a penalty against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night when I noticed the players Alain Vigneault threw on the ice. The first group included Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows and the second group included Jannik Hansen and Rick Rypien. I then looked at the box score (NHL.com) at the end of the game and noticed the list of goal scorers – Hansen, Kesler, Burrows and Mason Raymond.

And I got to thinking… Since when did we have the Manitoba Moose on our roster?

In fact, the entire Canucks roster this season have no fewer than 11 players drafted or developed by the organization:

  • Mattias Ohlund – 1st round, 1994
  • Daniel Sedin – 1st round, 1999
  • Henrik Sedin – 1st round, 1999
  • Kevin Bieksa – 5th round, 2001
  • Ryan Kesler – 1st round, 2003
  • Alex Burrows – signed by the Moose, 2003
  • Alex Edler – 3rd round, 2004
  • Mike Brown – 5th round, 2004
  • Jannik Hansen – 9th round, 2004
  • Mason Raymond – 2nd round, 2005
  • Rick Rypien – signed by the Moose, 2005

I’m trying to remember a time when the Canucks had that many homegrown players. (I believe the team from the Westcoast Express days came close with ten – Sedin, Sedin, Linden, Chubarov, Cooke, Ruutu, Kesler, King, Ohlund and Allen – but I could be wrong.) What is even more impressive is that these players play key roles on the team, including 6 of its top 9 forwards and 3 of its top 6 defensemen. So far, a total of 11 different Canucks have scored a goal this season and 9 of them are on the above list.

Considering the criticism this team has received over the years about its drafting record, it’s nice to finally see some success stories. I don’t think we’ll forget Shawn Antoski, Jason Herter and Nathan Smith anytime soon, but at least, there seems to be some improvement in this area. And with Cory Schneider, Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner also in the system, it can get even better.

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