September 11 2014 12:52PM
In the past month to the day, we have published 20 articles - spanning nearly 40,000 words by our writers and another 406 additional reader comments - which collectively aimed to count down towards what we deemed to be the best prospect in the Vancouver Canucks system.
Those numbers doesn't include this post, which will hopefully put a neat bow on the series as a whole by providing the individual rankings of everyone that had a say in the consensus. That, and a few other notes on what has morphed into a whale of a project over the years just past the jump.
September 10 2014 12:01PM
Well, here we are. After a month of counting down the Vancouver Canucks' top-20 prospects, we've finally arrived at our consensus choice for the top prospect in Vancouver's system. We've covered every type of player from towering European defenders to late developing scorers to history-making college kids to dynamic and exciting Western League scorers. The Canucks' pipeline of quality young talent is as full as it's been in years, and at the head of the class of the future is none other than Bo Horvat.
We've written extensively about Bo Horvat on this platform before, and for good reason: at the time of his selection, he was Vancouver's highest pick in the entry draft since the team selected Daniel and Henrik Sedin back-to-back in 2000, and unlike drafting Jake Virtanen, they had to give up arguably the best goaltender in the game today to get him. With Ryan Kesler now gone and returned in the form of Nick Bonino and Jared McCann (and the funeral pyre that is Luca Sbisa) leaving a gaping void at centre behind an aging Henrik Sedin, the pressure isn't just on Horvat to produce, but to produce as soon as possible on a team that hopes to compete in an increasingly more vicious and unforgiving Western conference.
So, yeah. No pressure, kid.
September 10 2014 09:16AM
The 2014-15 NHL season is rapidly approaching. Respective prospect tournaments and training camps are starting any day now, and the preseason schedule itself gets going less than two weeks from now. Those are sure-fire signs that hockey is on the horizon.
Another harbinger that makes that realization feel more tangible? Bovada has released their over/under lines for team point totals this coming season.
September 09 2014 01:40PM
The question of how a prospect that only appeared in 18 games last season, and performed poorly, yet still managed to jump up three spots after having been ranked 5th by our staff last summer is a fair one, although I'd caution that 1/3 of the voters involved have changed since then. That probably has more to do with the shift than anything else, really.
With that being said, it's also surely a testament to what we believe is Hunter Shinkaruk's dynamism as a prospect. That high-end skill level explains why we continue to have Shinkaruk rated this high on our list, despite his most recent 'lost' season.
Shinkaruk's disappointing campaign was reflected in my own personal rankings, where he dropped from the top spot to firmly in second behind the guy we all know is number one on this list at this point. Still, I remain steadfast in my belief that Shinkaruk has the greatest reasonable ceiling among any player currently in the team's system.
September 08 2014 11:56AM
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.