What follows is a breakdown of how Vancouver’s prospects in major junior, NCAA or European hockey are doing at this early stage of the season. Excluded in this series of columns are the prospects with professional contracts plying their trade with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
This week we’ll focus on the Canucks 2011 Draft class.
David Honzik – 71st overall pick, 2011 Draft
Roberto Luongo isn’t the only goalie with ties to the Canucks off to a rough start. After a trying spell between the pipes for the Canucks 3rd round pick at the prospects tournament, Honzik has carried his underwhelming play into the QMJHL. The Victoriaville Tigres’ netminder has posted a woeful .878 save percentage and 3.54 goals against average in nine games this season. Both of those figures are worse than his 2010-11 numbers for the Tigres. He’s got a solid team in front of him too, as Victoriaville is the 10th ranked CHL franchise as of Oct. 19. It’s worth noting Honzik finished last season with a .878 and was drafted on the strength of his excellent performances in the playoffs (.919 save percentage) but his regression to 2010-11 season form is a little alarming. Furthermore, Tigres’ goalie Brandon Whitney has posted a 6-0 record, while Honzik sits at 4-5. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on the goaltending situation in Victoriaville.
Alexandre Grenier – 90th overall pick, 2011 Draft
The big-bodied centre took a strange path to the NHL, and, as a 20-year-old overager, is only now playing in his first full-season in the QMJHL. Expectations for the sophomore forward should be tempered. Yes he’s a 20-year old with a 6-foot-five, 200 pound frame playing in a league among less physically mature skaters. But, as a relative newcomer to major junior hockey, the Laval-native will not be taking the league by storm. Grenier was traded in the off-season from the Quebec Remparts to a Halifax Mooseheads squad coming off a dreadful 2010-11 campaign in which the QMJHL club posted a 20-43-2-3 record. Like Honzik, Grenier posted excellent playoff numbers last season which likely vaulted him up the prospect ranks. Unlike the Victoriaville goalie, Grenier has carried his form into the new season as he’s posted two goals and seven points in eight games.
Joseph LaBate – 101st overall pick, 2011 Draft
It’s probably unfair to expect a great deal from a player whose jumped from the Minnesota High School ranks, as a member of Holy Angels Academy, to the WCHA with Mike Eave’s vaunted Wisconsin Badgers. But, the 6-foot-4 forward made an immediate impact in NCAA division 1 hockey, notching a goal and an assist in his first game with the Badgers, a 3-2 loss on Oct. 7 to Northern Michigan. He’s tallied a goal and three points in four games thus far for Wisconsin, not bad for a freshman in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The good news keeps coming in for LaBate. According to this post, he’s being moved up to the Badgers first line alongside Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes.
Frankie Corrado – 150th overall pick, 2011 Draft
You know you’re doing something right as a prospect when you have your own fan page and after an impressive showing at the prospects tournament for the Canucks, the legion of Frankie Corrado followers should continue to grow at a rapid rate. More importantly, Mike Gillis is a fan of Corrado and signed the blueliner to an entry-level contract. Corrado, now in his third season in Sudbury, sits fourth on the Wolves with five points in seven games. That’s a far cry from Dougie Hamilton’s 17 points from the blueline for the Niagara Ice Dogs, but Corrado is not exactly surrounded by first round talent in Sudbury. Corrado is one to watch this season, his game is very polished for an 18-year-old on the back-end.
For information on Nicklas Jensen, the Canucks 29th overall pick in the 2011 Draft, check out Thomas Drance’s extensive piece on the Oshawa Generals winger.