Vigneault talks Jensen, Kassian and Zone-Starts with Canucks Army

 At this weekend’s NHL Draft, we were able to catch up briefly with Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. We didn’t have the time for a full-length interview but we got a few thoughts from him on zone starts, along with two young players in the Canucks’ system in Zack Kassian and Nicklas Jensen. Questions and answers are edited for grammar.

Cam Charron: You deploy your players so much differently than any other coach in the league. How involved do you get in the player selection process?

Alain Vigneault: Not at all. This is all the amateurs [scouts]. I don’t see any of the games as far as the potential players that come to our organization so we’ve got a great amateur scouting staff that do a great job and it’s all up to them.

CC: When you get a guy into your line up like Manny Malhotra, do you know from the pro scouting staff that he’s a guy that can start, say, 90% of his shifts in the defensive zone?

AV: Well, the guys that are pro obviously I know a little bit more and I feel certain guys are better suited for different situations. I like my offensive players to, if I can, start them in the offensive zone and my more defence-oriented guys I’d start in the defensive zone. I just feel it gives us a better chance in such a competitive league.

CC: Is that your own individual belief? Because in the organization, it seemed that Scott Arniel and Claude Noel were doing the same things when they got their NHL jobs.

AV: I think each guy has his own mindset and really, what his team can do the best. And then you just got to put the players in situations where they can succeed if that’s the case guys have confidence and they go out and they do their jobs.

CC: What’s your opinion on big-body guys from the OHL because the team is seeming to collect a whole bunch of them?

AV: As far as the kids you’re talking about right now? Yeah, I haven’t seen any of them, but our guys this year felt they were the best guys to help the Canucks become a Stanley Cup team and I’ve got full confidence and full trust in them.

CC: Well you’ve seen Nicklas Jensen and Zack Kassian.

AV: I have, yeah. In that case, those guys are – in my mind – going to be great players in this league. I’m confident that with a lot of work on their part with us, we’ll get them to that next level.

CC: Where do you see Kassian in the lineup next season?

AV: I think he’s got a legitimate chance of becoming a top-six forward. So where exactly is he going to fit in on which line I’m not quite sure but I’ve been hearing that he’s working real hard and that’s why we go to training camp.

CC: Last one, Jensen’s kind of at odds with his OHL club, it’s either the NHL or Sweden for him, do you see him coming up?

AV: You know I heard that from through Mike [Gillis] and Laurence [Gilman] that he was thinking of other avenues. I really like that kid. This is my seventh year, he’s probably one of the best players that I’ve seen come through our organization. I loved his training camp last year, I heard when he went to Chicago and I’m talking to Mac-T [former Wolves coach Craig MacTavish] he had a real good stint there and I’m really looking forward to see what he can do with our team next year.

  • DCR

    Great interview. At least in the written version, he seems a little like he didn’t want to talk about zone deployment. Interesting that he spoke so highly of Jensen–maybe an indirect comment on Hodgson, or maybe he’s opening the door for Jensen to stick this year?

    One question you forgot to ask: what he thinks about @strombone1 0_0

  • DCR

    Just for clarification…

    Why can’t Niklas Jensen play for the Chicago Wolves in 2012-13?

    I understand the CHL-NHL transfer agreement for players under 20 or with less than 4 seasons in Major Junior.

    But it was my understanding that this only applied to Canadian-born players.

    I thought that a player who was imported from Europe or the US was eligible to jump from junior to the AHL right away?

    Am I mistaken? Perhaps by playing the CHL, European and US players lose this ability?

    Or is Jensen a special case, because his father is Canadian? I’m not sure who he played for before the Oshawa Generals.

    Just a point to ponder.

  • DCR

    Jensen has dual citizenship Danish and Canadian, so while he’s not Canadian-born I think the CHL-NHL transfer agreement is in effect because he’s a Canadian citizen.

  • puck-bandit

    I have got to hand it to you; good interview, but AV has this uncanny way of saying absolutely nothing that has any value. His answers always seem to be smug, and generic at best. I get the feeling that he is pre-rehearsed for every member of the media.
    When it came to the prospects, as my memory recalls, he has made numerous comments on progress and video pertaining to possible pre-drafted players. So, our scouts just drop them off and he takes it from there, don’t think so.
    Now you get to Nick Jensen, and shabamm, his ears perk up and he is in the know? AV is a hockey guy, and just want to clarify for him that he is well aware, just as we fans are.
    Keeping the big trade deals from us hungry fans I can live with, but we are talking about the prospects, the big kids, and he’s not in the loop?
    I suppose that when he just recently put his foot in the retraction he had to make over Lou, makes a certain amount of sense.
    My pet peeve is that most coach’s are pretty much forthcoming when they speak, and AV plays with the passionate base.
    Can’t wait till the season starts, I’m ranting.