Canucks Sign 2011 Draft Picks Tommernes, Grenier

The Canucks Signed Henrik Tommernes to an Entry-Level Deal This Week.
Photograph by BILDBYRÅN via Aftonbladet.

Among a certain segment of Canucks fan, the 2011 NHL Draft is more widely known as "the draft the year after the Canucks took Adam Polasek ahead of Brendan Gallagher." But it’s looking like it could actually be an interesting one. This week the Canucks signed two more of the eight players they selected in Minnesota that year in puckmoving defenceman Henrik Tommernes (team press release), and beanpole forward Alexandre Grenier (team press release).

Read past the jump.

The most recent signee is puck moving defenceman Henrik Tommernes, who led the Frolunda Indians in ice-time this past season in the Swedish elite league. I streamed a fair few Elitserien games during the fall (partly to keep tabs on Nicklas Jensen, and partly because I missed watching professional hockey during he lockout), and I caught Tommernes on a couple of occassions. Tommernes is not a particularly big human person, and it’s tough to gauge the quality of a player’s defensive play or gap control when watching them on a big ice surface. So all I can really tell you based on a small handful of past viewings is that Tommernes has got a big shot and a smooth stride.

The other thing about Tommernes is that he’s not a typical prospect. Usually when I’m writing about a guy who signed an entry-level contract with the Canucks, that player isn’t going to turn twenty-three by the time the next hockey season rolls around, as Tommernes will in August. To put into perspective how old "twenty-three" is in hockey prospect terms, AHL defenceman and Canucks prospect Peter Andersson, a player who the team drafted two years before they picked Tommernes, only just turned twenty-two about three weeks ago. The team’s first round pick in 2008, a guy named Cody Hodgson, just turned twenty-three this past February…

Alexandre Grenier is another forward in the "older than usual" and "bigger than average" mold that Mike Gillis has seemed to prefer at the draft table over the past couple of years. Grenier split time between the Austrian league and the East Coast Hockey League this past season and scored at an alright rate, though production in those leagues doesn’t tell us much about a player’s NHL potential. At least Grenier is 6,5 and has hands good enough to exploit ECHLers making a bad line-change:

Hopefully with the Canucks controlling their own American Hockey League affiliate next season, Grenier will play a big role in a more difficult professional league.

The reason the Canucks are signing a whole host of 2011 draft picks at the moment is that their "exclusive negotiating window" with the vast majority of these assets lasts for only two years. It’s a deadline that is rather rapidly approaching. Of the eight players the Canucks selected in 2011, they’ve now signed five to entry-level contracts (Grenier, Tommernes, Nicklas Jensen, Frank Corrado and Ludwig Bystrom). In Corrado and Jensen, two of those five players have already made their NHL debut.

There are also three players selected in 2011 who the Canucks have yet to sign to entry-level contracts. One of those players is forward Joseph LaBate who plays NCAA hockey in Wisconsin. Because he’s an NCAA player the Canucks have a couple more years to make a decision on signing him (or he with them, I suppose he could still go the Justin Schultz route). It’s a decision that probably won’t be difficult for the Canucks considering LaBate’s improved goal scoring rate in his sophmore year, and more importantly his physical stature.

The Canucks’s 2011 sixth round pick Pathrik Westerholm was twenty on his draft day, so the Canucks only have a two year negotiating window with him (18 or 19 year-old European players have a four year window). Since he was drafted, Westerholm hasn’t been that productive in the Swedish Allsvenkan (second league) and it would be a mild surprise if he were signed.

Meanwhile the club’s third round pick that year, goaltender David Honzik, has had a tough couple of  season in the Q. It would frankly be a bit of a shocker if he was signed to an entry-level deal by the Canucks.