August 14 2014 10:43AM
Unfortunately, the nature of professional sports is that there tends to be an inverse relationship between the success of the NHL club and the relevance of (/stock put into) its farm system, as we've seen up close and personal lately.
This is my 3rd year participating in the annual Canucks Army Top 20 Prospect Profile series, and suffice it to say, it's shaping up to be easily the most uplifting of the bunch. We're still a few weeks away from actually reaping the rewards of that though, seeing as we've just started counting down from 20 this week.
In lieu of that, ESPN's (but most importantly friend of the blog, as he'd be the first to tell you) Corey Pronman released his Top 100 list, which you can read here. If you don't have an Insider account you should look into it because the work himself, Frank Provenzano, and Craig Custance do there is top notch. With that being said, I've gone ahead and spliced some of the key takeaways for our purposes together.
Four recent draft picks of the Canucks made the cut, with another being listed as an honourable mention. This was enough to land the pipeline as a whole a top-10 spot in the organizational rankings.
August 13 2014 11:15AM
Size. Smooth skating. Slick shooter.
Alll things you love to hear about a prospect, and all things that have been used to describe Evan "Public" McEneny's game. So it goes without saying that the former undrafted free agent signing by the Mike Gillis regime - which was known to have a knack for extracting value via that avenue, making up for the abysmal draft record - has quite a substantial amount of upside.
Of course, we've ranked him as the 18th best prospect in the team's system, and there's valid reasons for that, as well.
August 12 2014 10:30AM
I'll let commenter JDM set us up:
I was just thinking, "these always start off in very sober fashion and are basically a downer for the first couple of entries". Which they are; I mean, it's basically a litany of reasons why prospect X is unlikely to ever be any good.
However, it then occurred to me that this is probably going to be the least depressing one of these lists ever compiled.
He is, for the most part, right. Vancouver's system is significantly deeper this season than it has been in previous years, but the unfortunate truth with top-20 prospect rankings like these is that a good number of the guys we rank and talk about likely won't play in the NHL for one reason or another. Some will get injured, some won't catch the breaks they need, and some just won't be good enough. For guys ranked around 10th or below, you're realistically looking at an outside shot of playing an NHL game at best.
So when Michael Zalewski is your 19th-best prospect and has already played in the NHL (and acquitted himself rather admirably I might add, even if it were just the 2 games we saw him in), that says good things about your system.
August 11 2014 02:12PM
You can add another cook to the Canucks coaching kitchen, with the news that the team is bringing Perry Pearn into the mix as an assistant to Willie Desjardins' staff.
The term "Medicine Hat Gang" was coined by a season ticket holder during the summer summit a few weeks back, and it's looking awfully apt right now as this marks the 5th asset with a direct tie to the WHL squad that has been acquired by the team since proud Tigers alumnus Trevor Linden took over as President of Hockey Ops.
Coincidence or not, the hire seems to make sense on a few fronts, given that Pearn is a generally well-regarded member of the hockey community, and one that'll bring his fair share of experience to a staff that's rather green.
August 11 2014 10:09AM
Evaluating prospects is a rather tricky business, considering the inherent volatility that accompanies attempting to project how, what's still for all intents and purposes, a progressively developing young man will wind up turning out 4, 5, 6 years from now.
For an 18 or 19-year old kid, the fact of the matter is that there are so many obstacles and unforeseen circumstances that can sidetrack their career's along the way before they ever even truly get started. That's part of why any scout or talent evaluator that's worth a damn will tell you that they try to avoid overly committing to projections or comparisons, instead looking to establish a floor and ceiling that can be reasonably expected from said prospect.
This understanding neatly segues into a discussion about the player we had ranked as the 20th best prospect in the team's system this summer, specifically because of how little real data we have on him following just one season of action in North America. At the time, Anton Cederholm seemed like a fine enough player to take in the 5th round where there's minimal risk associated with the pick, but based on what we've seen thus far it appears his overall upside is rather limited.