It appears that the Canucks have signed 21 year-old forward prospect Alex Friesen, who recently finished up his overage season with the juggernaut Niagara Ice Dogs, to an entry level contract. That’s according to the Twitter account associated with Pro Vision Sports, a Toronto based agency that represents Friesen. Here’s the official press release from Canucks.nhl.com announcing the signing.
Read past the jump for videos of a smaller dude absolutely destroying bigger guys with massive hits, and a bit of analysis.
Friesen was selected by the Canucks in the sixth round (172nd overall) in the 2010 entry draft. While he lacks prototypical NHL size (he’s listed generously at 5,10), in other ways he’s a model "Mike Gillis player." Friesen earned "top Academic High School honours for the 2008-09 and 2007-08 seasons," and we all know Gillis likes his prospects smart, was a third team OHL All-Star this past season, and was widely recognized for his performance by OHL Eastern Conference coaches in their annual poll. Jeff Angus summarized the impression Friesen has made on coaches at the OHL level earlier this season:
"Friesen was selected by the coaches as the top faceoff man in the conference (after coming third in the category in both 2011 and 2010). He was also named the top defensive forward, and the top penalty killer, as well. He was third on the list for the hardest worker award."
Friesen is coming off of a monster OHL season, in which he produced 71 points in 62 games and added 22 points in 19 playoff games, as the Ice Dogs made it all the way to game 7 of the OHL Finals (before losing to the London Knights). Despite his diminutive stature, Friesen likes to get his nose dirty and has developed a notorious reputation as a devastating hitter during his time on the Ontario Hockey League. Every time we write a post about Alex Friesen at Canucks Army, it’s customary that we embed this video of that time Alex Friesen absolutely crushed Taylor Hall:
Sorry we’re not sorry.
Here’s another highlight reel shift from Friesen. First he’s sandwiched by two Sarnia Sting Forwards, but he gets up, gets in hard on the forecheck, absolutely drill a Sarnia defenseman and indirectly causes a turnover that leads to a scoring chance:
Superficially, Friesen’s counting stats look promising (he led all Canucks prospects in NHLE production this past season) and his penchant for responsible defensive play and big hits are tantalizing. Generally speaking, however, if you’re still playing Major Junior Hockey at age 21 – you’re unlikely to ever make a significant impact at the NHL level. "Limited upside" aside, Alex Friesen has consistently demonstrated a level of intelligence, fearlessness and tenacity with his play and those are useful traits to have when you’re trying to beat the odds.