Why the Young Stars Tournament Proved Jake Virtanen is Better than Nicolaj Ehlers #MyColumn

Sillig Ekim
September 16 2015 06:51PM


The selection of Jake Virtanen with the sixth-overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has long been a contentious subject in this space.

In the weeks prior to Virtanen's selection and thereafter, the so-called "experts" at this site have thrown endless shade at Canucks management for this supposed reach. In place of Virtanen, the brain trust of Canucks Army have trumpeted more prolific, if one-dimensional forwards in his place.

One such player was Nicolaj Ehlers. With dynamic offensive abilities - he managed 104 points in 63 games - the suggestion seemed fair in a vacuum. But hockey isn't just a goal scoring contest and Virtanen showed as much this weekend.

With that, I invite you to join me on the other side of the jump for three examples of how he separated himself from Ehlers over the course of the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton last weekend. 

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Four Great Pentiction Moments, Mic'd Up

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
September 16 2015 06:38AM


When you're watching these games at home, it's often easy to forget that the players are saying words to each other on the ice. Your friendly neighbourhood broadcaster, of course, doesn't pass those words along to you, because nobody has the budget to pay for the on-the-fly censorship that society would necessitate.

Post-production, on the other hand, gives us somewhat of a look at what happens between the players when they hit the ice, including these four great moments from the Penticton Young Stars tournament:

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Fun With the CBA: Why The Canucks Can't Sign Rodrigo Abols

Jeremy Davis
September 15 2015 06:35PM


(Photo Credit: Sarah Hobday)

If you’ve been following the Canucks this past season, then you’re probably familiar with the story of the Latvian Locomotive, Ronalds Kenins. Kenins achieved cult hero status this season in Vancouver when he scored 3 goals in his first 7 NHL games (that snipe in the playoffs didn't hurt either) after being signed as a completely unknown player in the summer of 2013. He came over to North America for the 2014-15 season and, after putting up decent depth numbers for Utica, he set the world on fire at the NHL level (relatively speaking of course).

So you’ll forgive Vancouver fans for their love affair with Latvian hockey players. Upon finding out that the Canucks had invited Latvian born forward Rodrigo Abols to the Young Stars Classic, we were of course ecstatic. Could this be the next Ronalds Kenins? Plus, you know, he’s 6-foot-3, so meat and potatoes? Check! Sign him! Sign him immediately!

Well you can’t have him. At least not yet. The dirty rotten CBA is preventing us from laying claim to the next great Latvian (probably), and here’s how it’s doing it.

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Canucks Winners and Losers from the 2015 Young Stars Tournament

Carol Schram
September 15 2015 01:00PM

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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their 2015 Young Stars tournament on a positive note on Monday with a 3-2 overtime win over the Calgary Flames.

Vancouver's 2-1 record for the weekend is solid enough, but the tournament is more useful for evaluating individual players than for analyzing systems or special teams.

Success at this tournament means very different things for different players, depending where they're at in their development. Bearing that in mind, here's a look at the winners and losers of Young Stars weekend.

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Through trying times, Hunter Shinkaruk is still smiling

Thomas Drance
September 15 2015 11:09AM

Photo Credit: Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

If you've watched Vancouver Canucks prospect Hunter Shinkaruk play hockey at all, what stands out as much as any of his particular on-ice skills, is the joyfulness that he brings to the rink. It's a joyfulness that becomes especially pronounced when he scores. 

In his rookie year as a professional, Shinkaruk bounced up and down the lineup with the American League's Utica Comets. Coming off of major hip surgery, Shinkaruk was snake bit to begin the year. From October through to February, Shinkaruk appeared in 54 games, and while he averaged better than two shots on goal per contest (a very healthy rate), he scored just seven goals. 

It was tough sledding for the 2013 first-round pick, but he's put that trying period behind him going into his second season as a pro. Has the organization though?

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