September 04 2013 10:41AM
Over the past 4 weeks, this platform has played host to the prospect series, where we ranked and profiled what we believed to be the Top 20 prospects in the Canucks system. Throughout the process it became obvious fairly quickly that, while the top-end talent is definitely present, there's not much depth to the pool. The first handful of players that came up were difficult to take seriously considering that most of them will never enjoy a single relevant NHL moment; with my apologies going out to the families of luminaries like Alex Friesen and Yann Sauve, of course.
While we were making our way through the countdown, the name Ludwig Blomstrand kept surfacing time and time again. The curious part of it all was that Blomstrand's name never actually appeared on our actual list, but instead kept being bandied about by readers of the blog in both the comments sections and on Twitter. I found it sort of bizarre, personally, since he hadn't been on my radar at all. In fact, out of our 5 rankers, only 1 - Patrick Johnston, who would probably defend himself were it not for that giant bus currently trampling him - even had Blomstrand in his Top 20. And he had him at number 18.
But at some point, I started to ask myself whether it was possible that this wasn't all some sort of elaborate inside joke. What if, by some odd chance, this cult following that Ludwig Blomstrand had seemingly accrued was actually justified? What if all of the other rankers and I were totally missing something here?
Read on past the jump for more.
September 03 2013 09:29AM
Martin St.Louis was repeatedly passed up in the entry draft because of his small stature. Who else joins him on the All-Undrafted team?
We're roughly a month away from the start of the 2013-14 NHL regular season, which is certainly exciting because I think we're all ready for the return of hockey. However, that also means that time for goofy, random, fun (if you're a hockey nerd like myself) projects is running out.
We just concluded our prospects series at Canucks Army, in which we profiled the Top 20 players in the team's system. That entire project got me thinking about value, and finding different ways to bring quality talent into your organization. While it's nice to get your hands on a top pick, you can't simply rely on that. There's more to it. As a GM, you have to be creative, and willing/able to take a chance on a guy that others didn't because of certain perceived flaws.
Just because a player doesn't get selected in the entry draft doesn't mean that he doesn't have a future in the league. It's why I find it comical when people try to tell you that they know exactly what a prospect will turn out to be. Scouting, and talent evaluation is an inexact science; all we can do is make the best possible educated guess based on the information we have in front of us. Unfortunately, that's usually not enough, and we're wrong far more times than we're right. But that's what makes it fun.
There are plenty of valuable, competent NHL-caliber players that are currently succeeding in the league after having been passed over time and time again by all 30 teams (210 different times, to be exact). Most of the guys listed below were told that they were too small, or too slow, or [generic reason a guy is told he can't succeed]. If there's one thing hockey people seem to have a fetish for, it's a centre with some size to him. A small winger who doesn't have overwhelmingly obvious puck skills will more times than not fall through the cracks.
Read past the jump for the All-Undrafted team.
September 02 2013 01:11PM
Image via DaveArt [dot] com.
It's September 2nd, which means that we currently find ourselves in the 'calm before the storm' phase of the summer. Our prospect series - which seems to have done a passable job of taking your attention away from the largely uneventful August - concluded last week, and we're still a few days away from the Young Stars Classic in Penticton.
Things will ramp up in both intensity and entertainment value soon enough, but until then, something like "Mask design of potential backup goaltender Joacim Eriksson revealed!" is a headline that has some legs around these parts. I'm sure you understand.
August 30 2013 10:10AM
Image via Matthew Henderson
Brendan Gaunce clocks in as our number one overall Canucks prospect! That probably comes as a bit of a surprise considering Frank Corrado's emergence over the past twenty-four months and Vancouver's selection of Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat at the 2013 NHL entry draft. I'd add that my personal list didn't peg Brendan Gaunce as Vancouver's top prospect (I had him ranked third).
There are some legitimate concerns about Gaunce's overall upside, but I have no trouble standing behind this consensus pick from an editorial perspective. Gaunce is a powerful hockey player, and an extraordinary defensive player with NHL size. His skating is a concern for some scouts in the industry, but I generally think he has the tools and hockey smarts to develop into a play-driving forward at the NHL level. Certainly he wins puck-battles with machine-like regularity at the major junior level.
More on the other side of the jump.
August 30 2013 08:45AM
Image via Matthew Henderson
Corrado's ascent up not only prospects lists, but the organizational depth chart as well, has been a rather remarkable one. It was only a measly two years ago that he was available all the way up until the 150th overall pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, before the Canucks finally took him with their 5th rounder.
With hindsight being 20/20 and all, that was a gross miscalculation by all 30 teams (the Canucks included, as they could very easily be kicking themselves for taking Honzik, Grenier, LaBate, and Blomstrand before finally pulling the trigger on the Sudbury Wolves defenseman). Were we to re-draft that class today, I figure that Corrado would go somewhere in the mid-to-high teens.
Just a few months after his draft, Corey Pronman, of ESPN Insider and Hockey Prospectus fame, assessed Vancouver's system and put out a Top 10, in which Corrado's name wasn't even mentioned. Last summer, Corrado made the jump all the way up to the 3rd spot on Pronman's list, drawing some kind words from the scout along the way. As for us, we had him ranked 7th last year, before bumping him up to number 2 this time around. Even Vin Diesel thinks that his climb has been fast, and furious.
Now, he's the only player in our Top 5 that wasn't brought into the system with a 1st round pick. Read on past the jump for more on the best defenseman in the team's system.