The Vancouver Canucks hosted their 2009 “State of the Franchise” event Thursday evening, bringing in season ticket holders and invited guests to get a look inside the Canucks management team and insight into their thoughts on the state of the club.
First off, I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend, and the Canucks put out quite a spread for their guests, with food, activities and photo ops with Canucks prospects.
So thanks to my friend Alan and to the Canucks!
We got some key insight on the view from the Canucks management on their three most promising up-and-comers.
Cory Schneider, Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson appear poised to battle hard for roster spots this coming season. By all accounts, if they battle as hard as expected, they are all likely to have spots on the big league bench, come October.
The praise was spewing like a geyser for Hodgson in particular. The management team made no secret that they think the world of him and they seem to expect big things from him. They did temper their enthusiasm somewhat by expressing that Hodgson won’t make the team until he’s ready. It was clear to me that Gillis and the rest feel he’s going to be ready this fall.
Gillis also stated that the Canucks are still in the market for another defenseman for their line-up. We’ll see if that happens via trade or free agent acquisition, but he did openly address the hole in the Canucks roster at the back end.
The biggest highlight of the event came when discussing the process of arbitration. Barry McDonald, the evening’s moderator, asked Gillis if a relationship with a player can become fractured if he loses an arbitration hearing. Gillis replied (and I’m paraphrasing) “The only thing fractured in a meeting with Kyle would be if we brought a scale.”, which resulted in an equal amount of gasps and laughter from the crowd. Gillis was quick to reply to that by saying that Wellwood has a great sense of humour and that he likes him a lot.
Kudos to Mike for being ballsy enough to say that in front of your most faithful patrons, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have said that if he thought Wellwood would be offended by that.
If nothing else, the evening proved that he has a very good relationship with his players, and a wicked sense of humour.
I look forward to seeing who the Canucks target for their defensive pickup, and how the top 3 prospects fare when the fall comes.
We’ll see how things round into shape in the next two months. Sorry, Kyle, that wasn’t directed at you.
– Cam Davie