Cheers and Jeers! - Oct 3rd, 2014

Thomas Drance
October 03 2014 01:27PM

CheersandJeers

It's Friday, and with the dawn of a new season rapidly approaching, we've decided to revamp an old favorite: "Cheers and Jeers!"

This regular feature was originally started by Canucks Army forefather Cam Davie during the 2011-12 hockey season. Now that I'm the old hand at this here Canucks hockey blog (that happened... quickly), I figure it's my turn to carry on, carry on tradition.

This week, I give a high-five to the Canucks' suddenly promising stable of young talent and the Smylosphere in general, while I point and laugh at Luca Sbisa and the Edmonton Oilers.

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Canucks Army Player Preview: Jannik Hansen

Thomas Drance
October 03 2014 09:00AM

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For a quality middle-six forward on a very good contract, Danish-born Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen takes a good deal of flack in the Vancouver market.

Perhaps it's because he's coming off of the worst offensive season of his NHL career, or because he's not seen as gritty enough, or North American enough, or skilled enough. Irrelevant concerns aside, Hansen remains a credible and productive top-nine forward at the NHL level and the type of player who can anchor a very good third forward group.

Read on past the jump.

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Canucks Army Player Previews: Dan Hamhuis

Thomas Drance
October 02 2014 12:58PM

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You'd be hard-pressed to find an unrestricted free agent who has provided his club with more value during the salary cap era than Smithers native and good local boy Dan Hamhuis, 31, has brought to Vancouver since signing here in 2010. An oft-criticized second pairing guy in Nashville (his regular pairing with Kevin Klein was never very good for some reason), Hamhuis has spent his late-20s with the Canucks, where he's blossomed into a bona fide top pairing defender, and one of the league's best hybrid-type shutdown types.

While Hamhuis remains a credible top-pairing guy, even a fringe "1A defenseman", and isn't quite at the age where we might reasonably expect the Canucks to begin to incur some significant diminishing returns on their investment, he had something of an off year last season (though he can take solace in the Olympic Gold Medal he won as a depth defender with the Canadian men's ice hockey team). Was it the so-called 'Torts effect' or has Hamhuis lost a bit of his fastball in his early 30's? We'll answer that question and more on the other side of the jump.

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Prospect Profile #3: Jake Virtanen

Thomas Drance
September 08 2014 11:56AM

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Selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the sixth overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Calgary Hitmen forward Jake Virtanen is the highest draft pick amongst all current Canucks prospects and debuts as the third highest ranked junior aged player on our list.

If you've been following this blog over the past year, you're probably a bit surprised to see Virtanen check in this high on the list. The CanucksArmy consensus has generally contended that the Canucks erred in drafting Virtanen with the sixth overall pick, something I don't quite agree with. This might be why I drew this particular assignment (despite being much more familiar with the OHL), or maybe I drew it because I had Virtanen ranked as the organization's second best prospect, which I've been assured is the highest such ranking the Abbotsford, B.C. born power forward received from our team of erstwhile Canucks bloggers. 

Here's my logic: if the Canucks organization folded tomorrow (god forbid), and all of the club's prospects were suddenly made available to rival NHL clubs in a dispersal draft, which aspiring NHL player would be selected second, immediately following Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray tripping on his way up to the podium to shout "Bo Horvat! Yess!" into the microphone? I don't think this is close. Quite obviously the 18-year-old who is coming off of a 45 goal age-17 season in the WHL would be the second selection; and well ahead of the undersized 20-year-old winger who just lost a full season to a serious hip-injury; and also ahead of the quick, reliable AHL defenseman who projects to have limited (if any) offensive value at the NHL level. 

Read past the jump for more on Virtanen.

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Prospect Profile #7: Brendan Gaunce

Thomas Drance
August 29 2014 12:01PM

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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.

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