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.
August 27 2014 11:09AM
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.
August 22 2014 11:21AM
In his first year of eligibility for our cherished annual prospects list, Erie Otters forward Dane Fox makes his debut at number 12. An undrafted free agent, the 20-year-old Fox cashed in a whopping 64 goals while playing triggerman for Connor McDavid and Connor Brown with Erie in 2013-14. Sought after by a number of teams this winter, Fox signed a three-year entry-level contract - a deal that included the maximum signing bonus - with the Canucks in December.
Fox is the very last of a diverse and relatively successful class of undrafted free agents that were signed by the Canucks during the Mike Gillis era. It's a class that can claim a couple of star graduates, including Eddie Lack and Chris Tanev, and some big misses in Sebastian Erixon and Evan Oberg. No matter, the thing about an undrafted free agent is that they're found money, basically no-risk propositions.
In Fox's case, it's easy to get carried away looking at his massive OHL goal totals and forget that he managed his feat, and it's still impressive, while playing as an overager with a generational talent on a stacked team. That's critical context, and it's pretty unlikely that Fox will be a top-line scorer at the NHL level. Fox is still an intriguing depth prospect though, and his relatively high debut ranking slot speaks to that.
August 18 2014 11:05AM
18-year-old Swedish defenseman Gustav Forsling was drafted in the fifth-round by the Vancouver Canucks at the dawn of the Jim Benning era this past June. An undersized, well-rounded defenseman out of the Linkoping system, Forsling has yet to debut at the senior level over in Sweden though he's been on the Tre Kronor's radar for years, and has competed internationally at the U16, U17, and U18 level.
Read on past the jump.
July 28 2014 12:40PM
The Vancouver Canucks' new management team seems content with what they've accomplished so far this offseason, based on how they've operated over the past three weeks. Since locking up arbitration eligible defenseman Chris Tanev in early July, the club has been content to lock up 2014 first-round draft selections Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann to entry-level contracts and take care of the housekeeping in Utica (with deals for guys like Brandon DeFazio). The Canucks roster as it stands, is the one we'll see on the ice to start next season.
On the surface its been an offseason of upheaval, punctuated by a new president, a new general manager, a new coach, a new friendly but decisive style of operating, a new franchise villain, a new oft-criticized star goaltender, and a handful of new players - none of them, really, top-of-the-lineup pieces (Radim Vrbata, aside). Looking a bit deeper though, at least in terms of the organization's posture heading into next season and the into future, the changes seem cosmetic.
In the big picture, what's the difference between the 'reset' of the summer of 2013 and the 'retool and reenergize' of the past six weeks? Cap space and decisive action. Aside from that, the goals of the franchise and the identity of the core is unchanged.
Let's unpack this a bit further after the jump.