August 29 2014 12:01PM
Just one summer removed from being controversially named CanucksArmy's top Vancouver Canucks prospect, 2012 first round pick Brendan Gaunce has seen his stock plummet and is ranked at #7 this time around.
In my view, Gaunce's stock isn't down as much as his slide down our rankings might suggest. Bear in mind though, I say that because his stock shouldn't have been high enough to place him at number one in the first place. I had Gaunce at number three last year, and I had him at number six this time around - which isn't a huge fall considering that the Canucks have drafted twice in the top-10 at the past two NHL Entry Drafts.
Meta-commentary that quibbles about Gaunce's place in our prospects list is so last August though. While Gaunce's slide down our list probably overstates the extent to which his development has flat-lined, It's probably fair to say that the sturdy two-way forward's development and production have not come along as hoped since his draft year. Still, it's not all doom and gloom here, Gaunce has scored 30 goals in each of his previous two OHL seasons, he's still just 20-years-old, and he's only just about to turn professional.
Nation World HQ
August 29 2014 08:05AM
NHL reportedly looking at expansion, the changing world of sports journalism, Flames expectations, comparing Justin Schultz to PK Subban and more in this weeks Roundup
August 28 2014 11:43AM
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.
August 28 2014 10:53AM
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.
August 27 2014 07:50PM
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.