Evaluating The Vancouver Canucks’ Farm System

How does an organization accrue high-end prospect talent in its system? Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is circumstance; naturally, the Edmonton Oilers have been able to accumulate top notch prospects in recent years. Thus is the life of a team that truly bottoms out. 

Read on past the jump.

But where you pick in the draft isn’t necessarily the be all and end all. When you’re a team like the Vancouver Canucks, and are consistently picking at the back-end of the draft – in fact, they have had just one top-20 selection in the past six years – you need to feature a combination of strong scouting, and creativity.

And under the Mike Gillis regime, the Canucks have done just that. They have implemented the strategy of drafting older players (who are more ready to step into professional hockey sooner), whilst placing an emphasis on uncovering hidden gems from Scandinavian leagues and late-bloomers in the QMJHL

It should also be noted that they have been able to turn undrafted free agents – players that everyone else passed on – into useful assets. In fact, two of the club’s best young players (Eddie Lack and Chris Tanev, who just missed the cut as a "prospect") in their system were brought in through this manner.

Unless you spent the summer living under a rock, you’re likely aware that we did a countdown of the top 20 Canucks prospects, which culminated with Zack Kassian taking home the top spot.

Obviously, our rankings on this particular subject need to be taken with a relative grain of salt. Sure, we dilligently collected notes from people who have watched all of the players in question play on a frequent basis, but that only takes you so far. None of us saw enough of any of these players to formulate strong enough opinions on how they stacked up against others.

Friend of the Nation Network, Corey Pronman however, has been publishing his rankings for every organization’s prospects pool throughout the summer. In case you were wondering, he did it in reverse order of points accumulated last season, so it took nearly forever for the Vancouver Canucks to come around (that’s what we call a humblebrag, boys and girls).

He recently published his rankings for the Canucks, with extensive write-ups, and notes on each player. What kind of process did he use for his rankings? He places the largest emphasis on "possession skills" (a combination of puck skills, hockey sense, and puck-moving skills) which makes sense, because I hear that it’s an important trait for a successful hockey player to have. He also places less importance on goaltenders and defensemen, given the volatility that accompanies those positions.

Below, I have combined the rankings from Corey Pronman (from both his organizaitonal and prospect rankings) with the rankings from Hockey’s Future, and our very own, into one neat table for your viewing pleasure:

It should be noted that Pronman is in fact aware that the likes or Polasek, Tommemes, Price, Archibald and Honzik exist – they were simply casualties to his rankings being cut off after 15.

Given the evaluation process outlined above, it should come as no surprise that the biggest disparities in rankings were for the goaltenders on the list. Eddie Lack came in at number 9 for Pronman, while poor Joe Cannata didn’t even crack the top-15. Other than that, both HF and Pronman were far higher on Patrick McNally, Anton Rodin, and Alex Grenier than we were, while not being nearly as enthusiastic about Alexandre Mallet.

What does this is all mean? It’s just another informed opinion, from a source that has done more than his share of homework in preparation for the job. But remember, there’s no one right answer when it comes to scouting, and ranking prospects. All you can do is gather as much information as possible, in an attempt to give an informed opinion. And even then, you will have (far too many) times when you’re proven to have been way off on a certain player. If you’re the type of person that needs to be right all the time, this isn’t the field for you.

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  • Good stuff Dimitri. Tommernes is my “prospect to watch” this season. Even though his team might soon add Karlsson (which would cut down on his minutes) he’s logging top-pairing TOI in Frolunda and he’s been a monster on the PP. I’m thinking he’s improved his chances of getting signed enormously so far this year.