The Canucks have players entering their system at a VERY early age.
A showcase of some of the league’s emerging talent starts today in Penticton, as the Canucks young stars face their counterparts from the Oilers, Flames, Sharks and Ducks. The tournament kicks off today as the Canucks and Oilers face off at 4 PM PT.
What should we expect and who should we watch?
We know now that Cody Hodgson is not going to participate in the Young Stars tournament. On Friday, coach Alain Vigneault announced that the Canucks prospect would be held out of the tourney, in order to continue to evaluate his lingering back issues. Truthfully, did we really think that Hodgson was actually going to participate and risk further injury? We’ve already seen from similar tourneys going on with the Eastern teams that players are getting hurt and stretchered off the ice. The LAST thing the Canucks need is for some punk kid to take a nasty run at Hodgson and put him out for another year.
With Hodgson out of the tournament, on which players should we focus? About whom should Canucks fans get excited? Which players have a real shot at making the club this year? Who should fans watch?
Jordan Schroeder – With Hodgson out and still nursing his injured back, some feel that Schroeder has overtaken him as the Canucks #1 prospect. With the exception of Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder is the most likely to make the Canucks roster this season.
Taylor Ellington – He’s already a big presence on the blueline and he seems poised to break through on his pro career. Given the depth the Canucks have on defense this year, Ellington will likely play for the Moose this year. But with an injury or two on the Canucks back end, Ellington could be a call-up.
Stefan Schneider – The Canucks have a lot of centres in their system, but most of them are on the same side. Hodgson and Schroederare both on the small side and still developing strength. Schneider is a beast at 6’4", 206 lbs and has played both defence and centre. Could this be the Canucks’ version of Dustin Byfuglien?
Eddie Lack – One area where the Canucks don’t have a ton of depth is in goal. Sure, they have Luongo and Cory Schneider, and by all accounts, Schneider is ready to play and handle big-league minutes. But what if one of them gets hurt? Lack received plenty of praise in his native Sweden, so the Canucks are hoping his game translates across the pond. He had decent stats in limited play with Brynas last year, so it will be interesting to see how well he can do on North American ice.
Evan Oberg – He’s the one kid on defence that has seen NHL minutes. He also seems like he’s the one defenceman who could be ready to take a real shot at the club this year. If the Canucks aren’t sold on Aaron Rome and more specifically Andrew Alberts, Oberg looks to be the first choice to act as 7th defenceman in Vancouver this year. He needs to show the "boys" in this tournament what it’s like to play against men.
The Young Stars tournament means one important thing – hockey is right around the corner. Let’s whet our appetites with some hors d’oeuvres. I’m hungry for HOCKEY!