Prospect Profile: #8 Ben Hutton

That's Offside!
August 28 2014 11:43AM

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As we move closer and closer to the top-5 prospects in the Vancouver Canucks' system, we start moving out of "we hope this guy can make the NHL" territory, and into the range of guys where we can reasonably expect them to make some sort of legitimate NHL impact. 

Ben Hutton, our 8th ranked prospect, hasn't quite earned "surefire NHLer" status yet, but considering the season he had with the University of Maine Black Bears in the NCAA last year, he's knocking loudly on that door.

While a large majority of the guys we've profiled can say that they had a good 2013-2014 (except for one extremely notable guy we'll get to some time down the road), only Hutton can claim that his was all-time good. The big, mobile, and talented forward-turned-defender broke a University of Maine scoring record for defensemen, rippling the mesh behind notoriously stingy Hockey East goalies an astounding 15 times. But in case "Look! GOALS!" wasn't a strong enough selling point, Ben Hutton does all sorts of other things quite well, too, leaving us with many, many reasons to be hopeful that he'll find himself in the NHL sooner rather than later.

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The Log Off Podcast, Ep.8: with Corey Sznajder

Dimitri Filipovic
August 28 2014 10:53AM

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With the tracking project he has had his face buried in for months now finally starting to get the widespread attention that it deserves, we had Corey Sznajder join the show this week. We discussed which players - like Valtteri Filppula for example, who's pictured above - have particularly caught his eye in the games he has tracked thus far. 

We also looked into whether their strong zone entry data is something that those holding out hope that the Colorado Avalanche won't fold like a deck of cards this coming season can find solace in, and whether the unseemly zone exit numbers for the Canucks will be righted now that John Tortorella and his system are out of the picture.

There's also a Severin Blindenbacher reference somewhere in there, too.

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2014-15 AHL Schedule released for what promises to be a more entertaining season

Dimitri Filipovic
August 27 2014 07:50PM

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The inauguration of the Utica Comets that took place over the course of last season wasn't exactly the smoothest of rides. A squad that was generally undermanned to begin with was put behind the eight ball even further as the year went along due to the myriad of injuries the Canucks had to deal with, plucking their players here and there to fill holes as they saw fit.

The end result was a 35-32-7-4 campaign that had them miss the playoffs, but truth be told most of that can be attributed to the abysmal start to the year in which they lost their first 10 games. While the season was at least somewhat salvaged - with the Comets posting a .650 winning percentage in their final 40 games - thanks to the marked improvement by Joacim Eriksson as the year went along, the one glaring concern that remained throughout was the aforementioned lack of ability up front. Unsurprisingly, a rag-tag group led by Pascal Pelletier, Cal O'Reilly, Benn Ferriero and Brandon DeFazio finished 26th in goals per game. 

Now, depending on how September winds up shaking out, the 2014-15 version of the Utica Comets could realistically include the likes of Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Dane Fox, Ronalds Kenins, and a healthy Nicklas Jensen

Their schedule for the upcoming season was released today, and if nothing else they promise to be a heck of a lot more entertaining to watch and follow throughout the next year.

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Prospect Profile #9: Cole Cassels

Thomas Drance
August 27 2014 11:09AM

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A third-round pick in 2013 whose selection caused us to scratch our heads a bit at the time, Oshawa Generals forward Cole Cassels showed significant progress in his draft plus-one season.

After the 19-year-old forward, who won't turn 20 until May, played third-line minutes and produced a meager amount of offense in his draft-eligible season, he took a gigantic step as a point producer in 2013-14. Cassels played a top-of-the-lineup role while replacing departed (and high-end) forwards like Columbus Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner and Phoenix Coyotes winger Lucas Lessio. 

On a line with top-prospects Scott Laughton and Michael Dal Colle, Cassels saw his production spike significantly as he scored 24 goals and 73 points in 61 games. That's 30 more points than he managed in his draft season the year before, and 19 more points than he recorded in his first two campaigns in major junior combined.

For his commendable efforts Cassels earned himself an entry-level contract with the maximum signing bonus, an invite to Team USA's U20 summer development camp (though he ultimately didn't attend with some sort of undisclosed illness or injury), and most importantly, the #9 overall slot on our prospects list - up from #18 just one year ago.

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NHL Expanding by four teams?!? Maybe, apparently.

Steve Dangle
August 27 2014 08:17AM

I knew something was up when we recorded a new podcast last night and there was no major NHL news to report. Usually when that happens something goes kablooey the second we upload it. Low and behold, apparently the NHL is close to expanding by four teams, including another one in Toronto, by 2017.

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