June 27 2014 07:59PM
Not that I have a problem with Jake Virtanen or Jared McCann as hockey players, but it does bug me that the team has essentially become a public relations firm, eschewing more talented players on the board in favour of more marketable Canadian guys to try and mend the fences broken by Mike Gillis.
That was a long way to say "with the 24th pick, the Vancouver Canucks select Jared McCann".
Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of the Soo Greyhounds and everything Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe are doing over there. I may sound total Pierre McGuire but I can absolutely say that team is a first-class organization who are really beginning to redefine the way elite junior hockey teams view their players. McCann was a first round OHL pick of that organization and a top line player.
But… you look at the players on the board. Josh Ho-Sang had 85 points in 67 games with the Windsor Spitfires. There was talent aplenty with Ivan Barbashev and Nikita Scherbak still available. McCann isn't an offensively-lacking player, but he did struggle to put up "first round" points on a good team this season. What I'm looking at a player who is low-risk, low-reward. Yes, McCann will be an NHLer some day, but will he be an NHLer in a capacity to make a difference like one of the talented players left available?
I know that few of you will bookmark this and remember it in a few seasons when or if McCann is a top six centreman. The fact that his first words since joining James Duthie for an interview were "it is what it is" doesn't exactly inspire confidence. McCann's a player, and he plays for a good team and he'll be back in junior next year with a good team and get a legitimate look to be on Team Canada at the upcoming World Juniors. Sham Sharron had him 20th on the board, so theoretically, the Canucks got a steal of a pick.
Ryan Kesler is gone. Basically, the Canucks core has been whittled today and we're fuming a little. The Canucks could be worse next year, but a bigger crime is that they might be boring, and I'm not sure any McCann, Jake Virtanen, Bo Horvat or Hunter Shinkaruk, top prospects all, have enough of an air of excitement around them to make us forget that.
Now… if those four players were Shinkaruk, Valeri Nichushkin, Ho-Sang and William Nylander… we're talking. That's just our feeling with these picks. They're not bad picks, but they are what they are.