Flipping the Switch

Jeff Angus
March 22 2012 10:06AM

As the Canucks crawl towards the postseason, it is becoming painstakingly obvious that the team isn’t giving a full and committed effort each game. It isn’t like they are trying to tank (like a certain divisional rival the past few seasons), but they aren’t willing to risk injury or fatigue. When you combine that mentality with the fact that the teams they are playing are desperate for points, it becomes clear why they are losing more than they are winning right now.

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Who The Heck is Justin Schultz?

Jeff Angus
March 15 2012 09:53AM

If you have somehow managed to avoid hearing Justin Schultz’s name in recent days, don’t expect it to continue. The top defenseman in the entire NCAA (and currently property of the Anaheim Ducks) is weighing his options for next season. Why is this news to Canucks fans? Well, Schultz played a year of junior hockey (in the BCHL) after being drafted, and there is a loophole in the current NHL CBA that allows him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer (with a limit on how much he could earn on his first professional contract).

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Joseph Labate Learning Quickly

Jeff Angus
March 08 2012 09:04AM

If you have read my articles here at the Canucks Army for the past few months, you are aware of Vancouver’s collection of unheralded college prospects. Back in October, I profiled 2011 draft pick Joseph LaBate, even going so far as to compare him to David Backes. LaBate’s freshman season at the University of Wisconsin has gone according to plan – he is playing a top six role for a strong college program, and his regular season recently wrapped up. He finished with five goals and 20 points in 34 games for the Badgers.

The University of Wisconsin has churned out some impressive NHL talent in recent years. The notables include Derek Stepan (Rangers), Craig Smith (Predators), Brendan Smith (Red Wings), Jamie McBain (Hurricanes), Jake Gardiner (Leafs), Ryan McDonagh (Rangers), and they currently have the best skater in college hockey in puck-moving defenseman Justin Schultz (Ducks). Coach Mike Eaves has done a great job preparing these guys for the NHL, as the majority of them have spent little to no time in the AHL. Leading up to the 2011 draft, LaBate was pegged as a bit of a project pick (as most 6’4” 18-year-old skaters are), but his overall improvement this season is extremely encouraging.

I have seen bits and pieces of his games on television and the internet, but to get a more thorough picture of how his game has developed, I decided to reach out to Chuck Schwartz from Bucky’s Fifth Quarter, a blog covering all things related to University of Wisconsin sports.

Give Chuck a follow on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz).

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Delivering the Sauce: Mike McMahon on Joe Cannata

Jeff Angus
March 01 2012 08:43AM

A few months ago, I analyzed an interesting draft strategy employed by Mike Gillis – selecting one goaltender per draft year, usually in the mid-to-late rounds. One of the goalies I mentioned, Joe Cannata, is having a fantastic season in the NCAA for the Merrimack Warriors. Cannata was selected 173rd overall back in 2009, and he is currently in his fourth year with the Warriors. Through 31 games this season, he has compiled a 15-9-7 record with a 2.13 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage.

He’s likely to join the Chicago Wolves next season, likely in a backup goaltender capacity, depending on how he plays and how the Cory Schneider situation unfolds.

Since we don’t hear much (or anything) about most of the Canucks college prospects, I consulted an expert on Merrimack hockey for a firsthand take on Cannata. Mike McMahon is the author of the Mack Report, a website covering all things Merrimack hockey. McMahon can also be found on Twitter (@MikeMcMahonET). Mike had some great insights to offer me, including a Cam Ward comparison, and what we can expect from Cannata for the next few years as he adjusts to the professional game.

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Deadline Preview: Five Forwards to Target

Jeff Angus
February 23 2012 08:43AM

Thankfully the NHL trade deadline is only a few days away (Monday, February 27th), as the amount of rumours and speculation swirling in the media seems to be at an all-time high. The Canucks are one of only a few contending teams that don’t really need to do anything at the deadline, and sometimes the best moves, are the ones that aren't made.

That said, GM Mike Gillis likely recognizes that his team’s window to win is now, and at the very least he should be working the trade market for some depth at both forward and defense. Earlier this week, Thomas Drance did a thorough inventory of Canucks needs, trade chips and cap-space, and yesterday Cam Charron broke down how the Canucks have fared at previous trade deadlines. Today I'll look into somewhat realistic trade targets, but speculating about picking up depth players isn’t all that interesting. So why don’t we take a look at five of the bigger name forwards who could be made available come Monday morning?

Read on after the jump!

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