August 11 2016 09:00AM
When it comes to junior hockey, I don't believe in late bloomers. By and large, players are either good or bad, and it's the circumstances around them that change. For Carl Neill, unpacking the nature of those circumstances will say a lot about who he is as a player.
Since his breakout season in 2014-15, Neill has scored at a pace of 0.7 points per game -- no small feat for a defender. The caveat is that he's done so at an advanced age relative to his peers, while playing alongside Jeremy Roy, one of the Q's best defencemen. There are a number of reasons for optimism, however, which is why Neill's ranked 16 on our consensus ranking.
August 10 2016 11:00AM
Things are happening. According to a News 1130 AM report, Jiri Hudler is set to sign this week and the Vancouver Canucks are very definitely in the mix. Not long after that report, TSN 1040 AM had Jason Botchford on, and he confirmed that the Canucks were, in fact, interested in the Czech mercenary. He also added that the Canucks were talking with Radim Vrbata's camp.
One of those was more expected than the other, I can tell you that much. Between the Canucks need for goal scoring and Assistant General Manager John Weisbrod's connections to Hudler from Calgary, it kind of makes sense. The Vrbata connection, less so.
If you were running the Canucks, which of the two would you sign? Would you sign both? Or hell, maybe you're not into either of them. Let your voice be heard!
August 10 2016 09:00AM
Lukas Jasek checks in as our 17th ranked prospect
Lukas Jasek might not turn out as the best player the Canucks grabbed at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, but the moment they selected him 174th overall he became their best value grab of the day. That much is hardly up for debate.
Less certain is whether the Canucks' sound bet on Jasek will bear fruit. If Jasek's first year in their system is any indication, the two sides have their work cut out for them. The hope was that Jasek, who spent much of his draft season playing for HC Ocelari Trinec's men's team, could carve out a more permanent role and elevate his offensive totals. Instead, Jasek appeared in two fewer games than the 27 he played a season prior and had just one more point to show for it.
Part of that is circumstantial. Czech rosters are notoriously massive and to get the type of minutes that would afford Jasek the opportunity to improve upon his offensive totals, he'd have to stand out significantly against a multitude of players further along in their development. The HC Trinec roster featured 46 different players in some capacity last season and just one player younger than Jasek.
August 09 2016 11:00AM
USA Today: © Sergei Belski
The Canucks are over a month into an exhaustive search of the trade market for an established scoring winger and don't seem any closer to finding a match now than they were when the league year started on July 1st.
It should come as no surprise then that the Canucks are dipping their toes back into the waters of free agency. Specifically, they're rumoured to be in the hunt for Jiri Hudler. Now, this should come as no surprise given the Canucks needs and the history between their Assistant General Manager John Weisbrod and Hudler. Their paths crossed with the Calgary Flames many seasons ago.
Been told that Jiri Hudler could sign this week and that the #Canucks are in the mix.— NEWS 1130 Sports (@NEWS1130Sports) August 8, 2016
Hudler brings to the table much of what the Canucks have publicly expressed a need for this off-season. He's a proven goal scorer, reliable from his own end and offers veteran savvy to a forward group riddled with question marks scribbled in no small way by the age of the players they hang over.
Let's take a look at why this might make sense for the Canucks and what kind of impact this might have on the complexion of their lineup.
August 09 2016 09:00AM
Alexandre Grenier checks in as the 18th ranked prospect in our consensus rankings of the Canucks' prospect pool.
At the start of last season, Grenier was ranked eighth. That was on the heels of a 2014-15 season which saw Grenier make significant strides as a key contributor for the Utica Comets in their Calder Cup season. Though Grenier failed to parlay that success into a full-time role at the NHL level, he continued to earn the trust of Comets head coach, Travis Green, and was dealt first line minutes with the club last season.