All things considered, the Canucks’ start was probably as well as could be expected. They’re still missing Ryan Kesler and David Booth, 2/3rd of their second scoring line, and with a shortened training camp and no exhibition games, it’s obvious most of the rest of the lineup are still in preseason mode.
But before we start a “Fallin’ for Drouin” campaign (or is it “Fallin’ for Mackinnon”?), there are some positives to take here.
While most of the vets have struggled, the Canucks have received more than expected contributions from the likes of Mason Raymond, Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and the Dutch Gretzky. Jannik Hansen has also been noticeable and Chris Tanev has probably been their most consistent defenseman. Coincidentally, these are pretty much all the players, give or take Andrew Ebbett, who were playing some hockey either in the AHL or in Europe during the lockout. Maybe something for players to think about in 2020.
May Ray, in particular, looks more like the May Ray from 2009/2010 rather than the May Ray whose career was almost ended by a cheap Johnny Boychuk hit in 2011.
At least through a few games, Kassian looks to be a good fit with the Sedins. Right-handed shot, power forward with good hands, good instincts and a good nose for the net. He’s also shown that he’s not afraid to play bodyguard for the twins – ask Ben Eager.
Schroeder has some obvious speed and skill, and as Gillis points out, he hasn’t really hurt the team on the defensive end. I mean, in his NHL debut against Calgary, he had a particularly memorable sequence in which the Flames bounced him around like a pinball, but if anything, he showed he’s got a hard compete level.
Of course, this isn’t to say there aren’t cause for concerns.
The Sedins look out of synch. For all of their offensive zone starts, they don’t seem to be generating as much offensive pressure as they normally do.
The defense looks out of synch. It probably speaks volumes when the pairing of Tanev and Keith Ballard (!) is the one defensive pairing left untouched. Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison have been shuffled around already.
The special teams aren’t so special. The powerplay can’t score and the penalty-kill can’t kill penalties.
And already in 4 of their first 6 games, the Canucks couldn’t hang on to leads like Dustin Diamond couldn’t hang on to his dignity.
So should we worry?
As magnified as things seem in a shortened season with little room for error, I think 6 games is still a small sample size to adequately judge this team. Like Gillis says, let’s wait a few more games before we step off the ledge or jump off the bandwagon. In the meantime, hopefully the kids can keep it up and the vets can pick it up. And hopefully, it’s not too late by then.
Because I sometimes like to overthink things, here are some quick thoughts this morning:
Those advocating for Cody Hodgson to get more ice-time may get their wish. Unfortunately, it may well be at the expense of Henrik Sedin and his 552 consecutive games played iron man streak. After getting in front of a Kevin Klein shot during the Canucks’ 4-3 win over the Predators on Tuesday night, Hank missed practice yesterday and was seen limping around in a walking boot. For now, the team has listed him as day-to-day, but the Canucks should know more about the extent of the injury once the CAT scan results come in.
It speaks to Canucks fans’ confidence in Hodgson these days that most are slotting him in the top-six without much hesitation (forgetting for a moment that his current 3-game pointless streak is his longest in almost 2 months).
If anyone’s interested, Dale Weise is also scheduled for a CAT scan after blocking a shot in Tuesday’s game.
The Canucks called up Mike Duco this morning so one of Hank or Weise or both are definitely out for tonight’s game.
Should the Canucks decide to call up another forward, Jordan Schroeder – with 12 points (6G-6A) in his last 12 games and 21 points (10G-11A) in his last 28 games – is the early favorite to get the call. However, that depends on what position the Canucks are trying to fill. Schroeder’s beginning to show some promise in his natural position at center, but has looked uncomfortable on the wing. If the Canucks choose to move Max Lapierre up to center the 3rd line and have Manny Malhotra center the 4th line, then they may call up another winger instead. And Mark Mancari, who has 15 points (6G-9A) in 15 games since his brief cup of tea with the Canucks in December, has looked good as well.
Maybe you guys can help me with this one… Looking at CapGeek, it shows the Canucks with 26 players (including Duco, Andrew Ebbett and Aaron Volpatti, the latter two players being on LTIR). I’m assuming here that Duco is an emergency recall, but I’m not sure the cap number makes sense. (i.e. Were the Canucks at the cap when they placed Ebbett and Volpatti on LTIR and thus can maximize their LTIR exemption?) Also, with little LTIR exemption remaining, am I right to think that someone else will have to move – or one of Hank, Weise and Higgins will have to go LTIR – for the Canucks to be able to call up another player?
This is obviously pure speculation, but if Hank – or Chris Higgins, for that matter – are injured long-term, how does it change GM Mike Gillis’ approach to the trade deadline? Due to their many injuries this season, the Canucks haven’t saved a lot of cap space for the deadline and Hank and Higgins would combine for $8 million in LTIR cap exemption. Depending on how long either of them will be out for, it must be tempting for Gillis to maximize using that exemption and then worrying about coming back to compliance later.
[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]
Heading into tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild, the Vancouver Canucks have gone to extra-time in their last 5 games (winning 4 of them) and in 8 of their last 10 (7-1-2 record). Through it all, they’ve amassed 16 out of a possible 20 points, making them the hottest team in the Western Conference despite winning just one game in regulation over that span. That alone is something to make you go hmmm! Alas, I’ve also found a few more:
1. What happened to the forward depth? For those who argue that this year’s Canucks team is better than last year’s, they point to the depth at the forward position as the primary reason. David Booth and Cody Hodgson have bolstered the top 9, giving the Canucks four decent lines when everyone is going (paging Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen). However, the Canucks will be facing a formidable challenge if captain Henrik Sedin is out for any considerable length of time (his status was undetermined at the time of this writing). Add to that the recurring staph infection-related issues of Chris Higgins, and suddenly the Canucks are without two of their top six forwards.
This means a couple of things. Firstly, coach Alain Vigneault will once again have to use his line juggling blender to concoct some new combinations. It likely means more ice-team for rookie Cody Hodgson, which will be music to many people’s ears. And the recently-maligned and aforementioned Raymond and Hansen will have a golden opportunity to dig themselves out of their respective funks.
As of this writing, the Canucks had not called anyone up from the Chicago Wolves. But if they do, don’t expect it to be veteran Steven Reinprecht as he’ll likely get claimed through re-entry waivers. I think the Canucks should give 2009 first-round pick Jordan Schroeder a look. He is third on the Wolves in scoring and he would slot into a top-9 role with his nifty skating. He also had a decent preseason and didn’t look out of place in scoring 3 points. But then again, so did Marco Sturm.
2. Get Booth out for the shootout. With 5 of the last 7 games ending in a shootout (including the last 3) and 7 shootout games already in 2012, it’s obvious how important these points are in the ultra-tight Western Conference. Surprisingly, the Canucks have done well in the 2012 shootouts, winning four of those seven contests. Recently, Roberto Luongo has looked better in the shootout, trading in his belly-flop for a calmer, deeper-in-the-crease approach.
It’s a good thing, because he’s certainly not getting a lot of help from the Vancouver shooters. In the 2012 shootouts, the Canucks have gone 7-for-23 for a percentage of 30%. That’s not particularly good, but it’s not surprising given the career shootout stats of the Canucks. As Daniel Wagner of Pass it to Bulis pointed out earlier this week, Vancouver doesn’t have anyone close to 50% (except for Andrew Ebbett but he’s taken a total of 2 shootout attempts, scoring on one of them). Alex Burrows is at 43.8%, Maxim Lapierre is 42.9% and the rest of the players are 33% or below. In the 2012 shootouts, the 7 Canucks goals have come from Alex Edler (2-for-3), Burrows (2-for-4), Raymond (2-for-6) and Hodgson (1-for-4).
Why not try David Booth in the shootout? His career stats aren’t great (2-for-10) but he hasn’t had a chance yet this season. He’s a very quick skater and thus has the ability to at least have the goalie guessing. He’s put up seasons of 31 goals, 23 goals, and 22 goals in the past proving that he can score. And he’s played well since coming back from his injury. Plus, he can do this:
3. Tim Thomas doesn’t like Barack Obama. The Boston Bruins have won only 2 of the 6 games they’ve played since visiting the White House without goaltender Tim Thomas back on January 23rd. Granted, it’s not the largest sample size, but it certainly qualifies as a mini-slump. At the time, the Bruins tried to downplay the incident but it set off a firestorm in hockey circles. Now, Tim Thomas is at it again, this time posting on his Facebook page, “I Stand with the Catholics in the fight for Religious Freedom” in response to Obama’s move to have all health insurance plans provide birth control to women (a plan that has Catholic hospitals, charities and schools up in arms).
This isn’t the time and place to get into the specifics of Obama’s proposal for health-care reform. However, as both a Catholic and a Canucks fan I find this whole situation quite fascinating. I’ve been a fan of Thomas for a few years now (for his playing style and not necessarily for his personal and political views), even if he was the main obstacle to the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup last June. It will be interesting to see how much his latest statement serves as a distraction to his team at a time where they need to turn their game around.
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!
Now that Vancouver Canucks fans have (we hope) managed to begin the healing process from the emotional rollercoaster of the 2011 Playoffs, it’s time to shift the focus to the 2011 Draft, where the building blocks for future success are put in place.
Given that the 2011 crop has, for some time, been viewed as a generally weaker class than previous years, perhaps the Canucks would be best served to once again parlay their first-round selection in order to acquire the talent needed to win right now. But seeing as how the club already forked over their top pick last season along with Michael Grabner and Steve Bernier, perhaps its in the best interests of the organization to keep the 2011 draft choice and not gut an already thin prospect pool.
In the mean time, let’s get a sense of just where exactly the Canucks are at when it comes to their top prospects.
Centres: Unquestionably, this is the Canucks’ biggest strength. With Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler expected to play out the next five years of their career in Vancouver (and likely more), Vancouver doesn’t really have a need for some top flight talent down the middle. Because of the team depth at centre, Tony Gallagher of The Province recently posed the question of top prospect Cody Hodgson’s future with Vancouver, but don’t buy the notion just yet. Despite the fact Manny Malhotra is the team’s unequivocal third-line centre, Mike Gillis also noted that Malhotra also plays wing, which would allow Hodgson to potentially slot in the third line.
Jordan Schroeder, drafted in 2009 in the first round, is another intriguing player that oozes as much talent as he does mystery. On occasion with Manitoba last year Schroeder looked like an elite-level prospect but on others looked completely invisible. It’s clear he’s still a few years away from seizing any chance at getting into NHL action.
Wingers: Anton Rodin and Sergei Shirokov remain atop the Canucks’ winger rankings, with the latter finishing the season as the Manitoba Moose leading scorer (22-36-58). Shirokov’s brief audition with Vancouver this year was much better than the year prior, as he scored his first NHL goal in a two-game callup. However, the small winger still is a little fish in a Canuck pond, where the team needs for elite scoring wingers may be too demanding for him.
As for Rodin, he’s grown both physically and mentally, acclimating himself to the Swedish Elite League since beginning his tenure with Brynas in 2009. It’s argued that the next step for Rodin’s career would be to make the trek to North America, but it’s unknown if he will commit to the move just yet. (Editor’s note: Farhan Devji reported about a month ago that Rodin is indeed North America-bound, but I haven’t seen any official confirmation from the team yet. – J.J.)
The Canucks also recently signed left winger Steven Anthony, who played for the Memorial Cup champion St. John’s Sea Dogs. Anthony, who was once compared to Sidney Crosby not too long ago, only realized this season that success on the ice comes with hard work. The tantalizing prospect has so much skill but needs to up his compete level in order to achieve it.
Bill Sweatt is the other notable winger in the franchise prospect pool, finishing second in Moose scoring. Sweatt is still a few years away from making a major contribution, however.
Defense: Kevin Connauton entered 2010 as Vancouver’s most intriguing defensive prospect, and for stretches of the season carried over some of the offensive flare from his Vancouver Giants days which made him so highly regarded. Unfortunately, Connauton’s mobility has been an issue all season, resulting in a blueline-worst minus-11 rating. He’s still learning the professional game and needs more time.
Connauton was instead overshadowed by the steady play of Chris Tanev, who appeared in a handful of regular season games with Vancouver as well as a few playoff games over Keith Ballard. Tanev never panics in his own end and makes a smart outlet pass nine times out of 10, which is why the Vancouver coaching staff like his future with the big club. Of all defensive prospects, Tanev is the likeliest to earn a spot next year.
Meanwhile, Yann Sauve and Lee Sweatt continue to develop their skills in the AHL; both missed significant time due to injuries this season, which has stunted their professional growth. 2010 draft pick Patrick McNally just finished his first season with Harvard University.
Goalie: Eddie Lack is undoubtedly the prospect who made the biggest noise this season in the AHL. Lack was the team MVP on many nights and the sole reason the Moose made it to the North Division Final. “The Stork” arrived with little hype but all season long was so effective at taking away the bottom half of the net, forcing snipers to try and beat him glove side, which Lack has recently mastered as well. If the Canucks do decide to part ways with Cory Schneider, few would be hesitant to see Lack fill the backup void. He’s been that good.
Organization Direction: At this point it becomes simply a “best player available” approach for the Vancouver Canucks. Despite their strength at the centre position, there’s little to suggest the Canucks won’ take a centre in the first round if that’s the best player available. With the team’s “win now” approach, the club could very easily swap Hodgson or Schroeder or even both if it means acquiring the kind of immediate talent to put the team over the top. That said, it’s evident the team would love to draft a winger with scoring ability or a physically mature defenseman who has a quick learning curve.
Watching the Manitoba Moose play the Abbotsford Heat this past weekend, I can’t help but think how far along the Canucks’ farm team has come in the last couple of years.
To recap, the Moose played a pair of back-to-back, weekend games against the Heat. They lost the game 2-1 in the shootout on Friday night, and won 3-1 on Saturday night. In both nights, the Moose dictated the play and the Heat kept it close largely because of their goaltender, Leland Irving.
Probably the most noticeable improvement is in the number of higher-level prospects on the team. This weekend, the Moose’s first line consisted of Cody Hodgson, Sergei Shirokov and Bill Sweatt. By the third period on Saturday, Jordan Schroeder had replaced Shirokov on this line. While the jury is still out on the speedy and skilled Sweatt, Shirokov has already had a cup of tea on the Canucks’ top two lines, and Hodgson and Schroeder are expected to get there at some point soon in their careers. (As a point of comparison, when I went to watch the Moose in Winnipeg last season, Marco Rosa centered the first line. And if I remember correctly, Mark Cullen centered the first line the year before that.) Hodgson, in particular, was by far the best forward on the ice. I think I share most Canucks fans’ sentiments when I say it’s only a matter of time before he makes it to the big show.
On defense, Kevin Connauton is continuing to develop and Lee Sweatt looks capable of playing the pro game despite his small stature. As a side note, Chris Tanev wasn’t as prominent this weekend as he was in Canucks training camp, but after just 19 games, it’s too early to label him as anything.
My point in all this is that, for the first time in a few years, there appears to be some legitimate NHL prospects on the farm. And top end prospects too. Certainly, it’s a far cry from the days when Jason Jaffray was expected to be able to play on Markus Naslund’s line.
Watched Moose game this wknd. Pleased with how our young players played, style of play the coaches utilized and number of canucks fans.
The last notable group of prospects to make the jump from the Moose to the Canucks included the likes of Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa, Edler and Hansen. If this keeps up, maybe it won’t be too long, maybe in a couple of years, until the next group, this time including Hodgson, Schroeder, Sweatt, Sweatt, Connauton and Tanev make the jump as well.
One thing that has been made clear this preseason is that the Canucks don’t have a lot of open roster spots. There were a huge number of bubble players and prospects at the start of training camp, but at the end of the day, even highly-touted like Jordan Schroeder and Kevin Connauton were sent down to the Manitoba Moose for further development . If you thought Prab “The Surrey Sizzle” Rai was making the team you were probably related to him. Much of the news around camp was focused on Cody Hodgson and his recovery from injury, well that’s been it. Schroeder and Hodgson were (or are) the Canucks’ most NHL-ready prospects and this training camp only reinforced the fact that they need more time in the AHL to hone their skills before joining the big club.
Unlike training camps for teams like the Leafs, the Canucks prospects haven’t had too much to get excited about. To explain what I mean you have to look at a team like the Leafs. The Leafs are going through a big restructuring of the team and it seems that everyone that was invited to training camp had an equal shot at making the regular season roster. You saw players fighting, kids trying to earn their way onto the team, there was fire in them. The Canucks roster seemed all but set heading into training camp. With three of four forward lines locked up, a blue line that had 8 NHL defensemen on one-way contracts, and a goalie situation that was set in stone the moment Cory Schneider signed his two year deal, there were few spots left for the youngsters – namely, the three, maybe four, spots on the team’s bottom-six.
When you look at the players brought in to vie for those fourth line spots (i.e. Brendan Morrison, Peter Schaefer, Victor Oreskovich), add in the incumbents (i.e. Darcy Hordichuk, Rick Rypien, Tanner Glass), you can tell the prospects had a hell of a battle to make the team. Realistically we were probably kidding ourselves if we thought they had a chance of cracking this year’s roster. And that’s not a bad thing. The Canucks have so much depth in their lineup this year, they can probably afford to properly develop Hodgson, Schroeder, Connauton, Tanev and the rest in the AHL and not rush them through their development.
Hodgson could use some AHL time where 20 minutes a game will go much farther than 6 minutes on an NHL fourth line. Schroder looked small and was inconsistent, unlike the kid that seamlessly transitioned to the Moose last year and found his scoring touch. Connauton, who is only 20 years old, has a long way to go towards building the defensive side of his game. Eddie Lack, the 22 year old Swedish Surprise, is going to be a good goaltender one day but he needs to learn the North American game and frankly there’s no room for him even if he was NHL ready.
Entering training camp, the Canucks had few question marks they needed to address when it came to roster spots. Most training camps are thoroughly evaluative whereas this one seems more like a formality. The few available roster spots have such competition that realistically we’ve seen an uninspired camp from a lot of the prospects. They haven’t played with the same energy you see in other camps. They’ve been wholly underwhelming. When the Canucks dressed a prospect-filled roster as they did against the Oilers on Sunday they got shelled. However, when they dressed a roster like the one that took on the Sharks last night the team did pretty well. And in fact, this is likely the team – or one that’s very similar to it – that we’ll see come October 9th.
The Canucks don’t have to make a lot of changes. They knew who was coming to camp, they know their returning core is only a few changes away from going deeper into the playoffs, and when they dress a proper roster the chemistry is visible on the ice. This preseason has been an uneventful and uninspiring one that only leads to more anxiety for the regular season to begin. At this point, I doubt this preseason is going to provide us with the discovery of this year’s version of a walk-onto-the-roster Tanner Glass. The roster’s practically set, and while management tinkers with line combos and has a few more bodies to trim down, the sooner the regular season starts the sooner we can really start dissecting the team.
The CHB crew are up here in Penticton for Canucks training camp. The 58-man camp kicked off today and here are some things I noticed from day 1:
Eddie Lack looked good. The 6’5″ goaltender is the tallest of those checking into camp and covered a lot of space in net. Given Cory Schneider is likely going to be Luongo’s back up, Lack looks poised to take that starter’s position with the Moose.
Billy Sweatt (Canucks fans’ newest favourite Twitterer – follow him at @billysweatt) looked very good out there. He’s got great speed and seemed to always have the puck stick to his stick. He reminds me a lot of Mason Raymond from a few years ago. He doesn’t have any finish but if he can work on that aspect of his game. The kid could have a big year on the farm.
The Canucks bottom-six looks like it’s going to get bigger this year. Malhotra, Torres and Oreskovich are all upgrades on some of the players that filled bottom-six roles last year. The Canucks needed to get bigger and Gillis has done a god job of bringing in players that meet that requirement with sacrificing skill and speed. Torres looks mean, Malhotra looked good in some face-off drills, and Oreskovich was skating very well for a guy of his size. He also managed to plaster Billy Sweatt along the boards. The guy is going to bruise and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he made the Canucks fourth line.
Brendan Morrison was getting feisty when he had to. It was clear he’s here to take his PTO to the next level and the general buzz in the locker room is that he’s going to make this team. He brings a lot of leadership to the table and I’d go as far as say that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given an ‘A’ if he makes the team.
Peter Schaefer, the other interesting invite to camp, didn’t look out of place. After training with Peter Twist for the last year, he seems as quick as ever.
On defense, Lee Sweatt and Dan Hamhuis looked particularly good. At one point, Sweatt, who loses four inches to Hamhuis, laid him out, picked up the puck and fired a laser under Louie’s glove. I know it’s just training camp, but it still looked good.
Hodgson skated with the Canucks C group that took no contact. This group included Alex Burrows Prab Rai, Steven Anthony and Shawn Weller amongst others. Jordan Schroeder, the other prospect everyone has their eyes on was almost invisible. He skated with the Canucks A group in the morning and was barely noticeable.
Sergei Shirokov continues to fly under the radar. He was out and skating, but without the hype surrounding him last year he just quietly did his thing without standing out.
After watching Andrew Alberts skate today I’ve come to the following conclusion: For a big guy he can skate really well. He’s a perfect number six or seven defenseman, however the Canucks moved him up to the fourth and fifth spot last year which placed him out of his comfort zone and amplified his flaws. His size would be a huge attribute to the blue line if we weren’t so stacked but he really didn’t look as bad as on the ice as he did last year.