Canucks take Jared McCann at 24

Not that I have a problem with Jake Virtanen or Jared McCann as hockey players, but it does bug me that the team has essentially become a public relations firm, eschewing more talented players on the board in favour of more marketable Canadian guys to try and mend the fences broken by Mike Gillis.

That was a long way to say “with the 24th pick, the Vancouver Canucks select Jared McCann“.

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Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of the Soo Greyhounds and everything Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe are doing over there. I may sound total Pierre McGuire but I can absolutely say that team is a first-class organization who are really beginning to redefine the way elite junior hockey teams view their players. McCann was a first round OHL pick of that organization and a top line player.

But… you look at the players on the board. Josh Ho-Sang had 85 points in 67 games with the Windsor Spitfires. There was talent aplenty with Ivan Barbashev and Nikita Scherbak still available. McCann isn’t an offensively-lacking player, but he did struggle to put up “first round” points on a good team this season. What I’m looking at a player who is low-risk, low-reward. Yes, McCann will be an NHLer some day, but will he be an NHLer in a capacity to make a difference like one of the talented players left available?

I know that few of you will bookmark this and remember it in a few seasons when or if McCann is a top six centreman. The fact that his first words since joining James Duthie for an interview were “it is what it is” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. McCann’s a player, and he plays for a good team and he’ll be back in junior next year with a good team and get a legitimate look to be on Team Canada at the upcoming World Juniors. Sham Sharron had him 20th on the board, so theoretically, the Canucks got a steal of a pick.

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Ryan Kesler is gone. Basically, the Canucks core has been whittled today and we’re fuming a little. The Canucks could be worse next year, but a bigger crime is that they might be boring, and I’m not sure any McCann, Jake Virtanen, Bo Horvat or Hunter Shinkaruk, top prospects all, have enough of an air of excitement around them to make us forget that.

Now… if those four players were Shinkaruk, Valeri Nichushkin, Ho-Sang and William Nylander… we’re talking. That’s just our feeling with these picks. They’re not bad picks, but they are what they are.

    • Chungus

      Don’t know this kid but my guess is that he is probably more disappointed at dropping that far than anything. No excuses as he could have handled it better though…

      @ Cam. LA kings don’t have any players (other than their all star Dman) that screams sexy, but they have won 2 cups in the past 3 years. Not comparing this rendition of the Canucks to the defending cup champs, but just saying….

      • The LA Kings have:
        -a former Selke candidate on their 4th line.
        -1-2 of Selke snub Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter who hasn’t scored at a sub-30 goal pace since 2007

        -Slightly over the hill Marian Gaborik getting to shell opposing goalies with impunity thanks to his superstar linemates

        -Drew Doughty consistently their best player followed by a stacked d corps

        -A pair of Vezina candidates in net

        The Canucks have:
        -The Sedins
        -Two Zack Kassians
        -An abundance of fringe third line centres
        -Tandem of backup goaltenders
        -A handful of prospects picked for their ability to play the game with: character; grit; 2-way acumen

        You need people who can generate scoring chances in order to generate scoring in order to win hockey games. The Canucks don’t really have a lot of that.

      • I can’t agree more no players that scream sexy who ever would want ANZI KOPITAR, MARIAN GABORIK, JEFF CARTER, JONATHAN QUICK, DUSTIN BROWN, MIKE RICHARDS, ROBYN REGEHR, and JUSTIN WILLIAMS how many rings does Justin have DAMN thats SEXY

    • Barnabas

      I think his response was to the question of going to a CDN team – the past few weeks he would have visualized going to San Jose or Colorado or St. Louis or Anaheim …. Teams with picks around where he was projected…. He would be speechless if a mike was facing him and asking about his mental preparation and going to Vancouver. Give the kid a break….

      • Chungus

        And they had way better young talent than Vancouver prior to the draft.

        And they didn’t have their 2nd best forward asking for a ticket out of town.

        And they play in an awful conference.

        These things, you know, affect how likely it is that the Canucks outshoot/outchance/outscore their opponents next season…

        • Is the Canucks division really that good? Some regression to be expected from Anaheim… San Jose is going through a re-tool, the Flames are Flames and Oilers are Oilers.

          I think Vancouver had at least one guy in Shinkaruk. I think it wasn’t only the possession, but the absurdly bad powerplay shooting percentage affecting the record. I get that players affect possession, but I didn’t think Ryan Kesler had a huge amount to give any more in that regard. I mean, they aren’t close to a title (neither are the Canadiens) but they weren’t as bad as their record indicated a year ago.

          There was a chance to go in and grab a guy at six and go right back to the playoffs, and I think this is a blown opportunity. We’ll see how it goes.

          I don’t have too much faith in Jim Benning to make me slightly more interested in the Canucks next season.

          • Spiel

            Anaheim can offset their high shooting % (which they have done for a few years fwiw) with

            A) The Kesler addition

            B) Young players taking steps forward

            Let’s see how good the Canucks are at outshooting/outchancing/outscoring the opponents when

            A) Henrik/Bonino/Matthias are the top 3 pivots at the moment

            B) The save percentage advantage the Canucks have enjoyed every season since 2006-2007 could very well be replaced with a below average to god awful save percentage.

            Also, Edmonton & Calgary have some reasons for optimism.

            Could this be the year Edmonton’s young players finally take a step forward?

            I have no idea.

            But who thought Colorado could emerge as a respectable team?

            In addition to Bennett, Calgary has this going for them:


            How do you think Chicago emerged?

            The “process” is not and has never been possession.

            Get as many good players as you can LA Kings style, add in a strategically saavy coach if possible and outshooting/outchancing/outscoring the opponent will follow.

            The Canucks do not have the players.

            Montreal can at least fire their coach…

  • Chungus

    Sham had him at 20th?! Great… I thought the test was beating Sham. I get that JB might have not had much choice with Kesler. But drafting was one thing he’s supposed to be good at.

    • Chungus

      You were defending Gillis’ draft record all the way until his termination.

      At which point you jumped on the ‘Fire Delorme’ bandwagon without, I assume, access to his draft board.

      While I don’t like what appears to be the process behind the Virtanen selection, going against the grain with one selection is hardly enough to suggest the Canucks will draft poorly in the Benning era…

  • Chungus

    I wish I hadn’t invested dozens of hours educating myself on drafting talent these past two years. Than I could be like one of the happy clams commenting about how excited they are about Virtanen’s size and grit. #ignoranceisbliss

    Nichuskin/Domi, Shinkaruk, Ehlers/Nylander and Ho-Sang would be very exciting.

    Gotta say, without smart management and scouting what will bring success to this franchise in the future? Luck?

    I’m rather despondent today.

    Hope our picks over perform their expectations.

  • Chungus

    “if those four players were Shinkaruk, Valeri Nichushkin, Ho-Sang and William Nylander… we’re talking. That’s just our feeling with these picks. They’re not bad picks, but they are what they are.”

    On the other hand, Edmonton.

    • I’m sure if we drafter Nichushkin, Ho-Sang, Nylander, the same people would be saying we can’t compete in the big man conference with skill guys.

      Give it a rest. You guys are such a bunch of whiners.

      The returns for Kesler stunk when you look at the talent of the players involved. However, you have to look at Kesler’s absurd demands (and NTC) in wanting to go to the Ducks only. Benning did OK there. A big f**k you to Kes and Gillis.

      Virtanen has lots of upside and scored a lot of goals. Good pick. McCann was ranked higher by TSN than where we picked and has skill and ability. Both a solid picks with upside. Sure, they could bust too but so can any pick.

      Nichushkin played with two awesome forwards but Whiner Central didn’t consider that. They have turned him into the next superstar and consider Horvat the next 4th line centre. Brilliant.

      Ho-Sang? Maybe in the second, sure. Too risky. Nylander? Already has some attitude issues; high risk, high reward.

      I take no issue with our picks. It is interesting reading all of the comments here and articles – yes, that’s right, you’re all way more hockey savvy than most people in the NHL business. Right. 🙂

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      And what does that have to do with our picks? Exactly.

      I’m not sure why you dislike or prefer other options to ours. Virtanen has tons of upside, scores, one of the best skaters in the draft and size. McCann has a killer shot and lots of upside. Both have size and grit and can survive the playoff wars.

      The funniest part is, nobody here has gone out and scouted these players. None of you have high end talent evaluation and you’ve already turned on ‘your’ team. Very odd.

      I categorize this article as nothing more than an opinion piece and that’s fine. Sports is entertainment. This is entertaining. 🙂

  • Jared McCann is going to be a really solid second/third line centre. If that’s a little underwhelming, so be it. The team does need scoring help, but you want guys who can play in the playoffs. McCann’s speed and faceoff ability will make him a player that can contribute at playoff time.

    Virtanen’s high end is a Jeff Carter? I’ll take that risk. Big, scoring wingers that can score are also hard to find. The assumption is that he is Kyle Beach, but Beach’s main issue wasn’t that he was untalented. It was that he was undisciplined. The thinking with him was if he could focus on hockey he’d have the ability to play top 6 role. Not sure how that didn’t work out in Chicago, but ultimately it didn’t.

    Shinkaruk-Horvat-Virtanen-Jensen-McCann-Cassels-Gaunce. There are players there. And a lot of centre potential. And why not? Eighteen-year old athletes are such a crapshoot.

    What we also don’t know is whethere or not Ehlers and Nylander won’t end up like Nikita Filatov. He had all sorts of high end skill, but he was small and wasn’t able to translate his game to the NHL. There are so many variables ahead of us.

    If we believed Benning knew what he was doing at the draft heading in to his hiring, we ought to give these yound guys a chance to develop.

    I’m excited about these picks. From a pure organizational depth view, they are building that the right way.

  • Marsh

    Wow. What a bunch of pessimists. An active day with housecleaning, two players drafted that by all accounts are well thought of and you’re already unhappy. Charron, you are being a goof…
    or speaking with your tongue stuck in your cheek.
    Ho-Shang has attitude -it’s his biggest knock and the others are Russians I believe. Not particularly appealing with the KHL paying big tax free dollars for players.

    McCann did look unamused but his quote was “I never expected the Canucks to take me….but it is what it is.” Would he have been happier going to the Leafs in the second round?

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Agree completely cam. A very uninspiring draft and set of trades. Here was an opportunity to inject some high end skill into the system. We have many ‘safe’ players. We saw this year what happens when we rely on these bit players to score (given our only 2 skill players had a down year). The result being almost the lowest goals total in franchise history.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    It pains me that Canucks passed on Ehlers.

    I wonder if Benning kept the Canucks existing scouting staff and let them formulate the Canucks draft board. The reasoning being the Benning made a gentlemen’s agreement with Boston not to use his knowledge of Boston’s draft board for 2014.

    I still think the existing scouting staff should have been replaced.

  • I don’t think we should worry too much about him being seemingly unimpressed to be drafted by Vancouver. He said “it is what it is” and that he didn’t expect to be drafted by the Canucks.

    But of course he didn’t – he expected to get drafted in the mid to late first round, where the Canucks didn’t have a pick until the Anaheim trade a couple hours earlier.

    And he says it is what it is.. but look at the transcript of his interview with Steve Dangle:

    Notice too how he says “didn’t really sleep that well but it is what it is” when asked how he feels going into the draft. It seems to be one of his go-to phrases that he habitually says.

    Look too at the video highlights. This is not an excitable man. He didn’t react after that first breakaway goal, and other goals he just raises his arms Sedin-style. Even when he does enthusiastically celebrate a goal it’s fairly muted and only lasts one fist pump.

    He seems to be really even-keeled. That might be a good thing. We have Hunter Shinkaruk’s excitability.. McCann might well be the needed ying to Shinkaruk’s yang on our future team here.

  • Barnabas

    My son and I just had the following discussion – if you were Jim Benning, would you trade the 36th and 50th picks to Boston for Louis Ericksson?
    Consider the following:

    Ericksson is 28 and very consistent.
    His salary for the next two years is very reasonable.
    He has shown chemistry with the Sedins.
    Boston is against the cap.
    Willie D was on his coaching staff in Dallas.
    Jim B traded for him whilst in Boston.

    So, would you make the trade?

    • Nope. No chance. If we make any deals, they should be for blue chip prospects under 24. We’re in a rebuild right now. Louis does not make us a competitor…we don’t even come close. Plus, I do believe Louis was disappointing last year and had some head injury issues not too long ago.

      I am wondering why the Canucks dealt their third round pick for Dorsett. He really doesn’t bring anything special to the table and is a 4th line player.

      I’m liking the rebuild and can live with some lean years. I think our system has a couple of line 2 type centres (maybe line 3). Horvat and Cassels are looking good. McCann might work out. Some solid wing potential and some D on the rise. I think Benning needs to try and deal for our #1 centre of the future, a top D man of the future and a goalie. We’re not too far off if these prospects keep developing.

      Canucks will not do well next year and that’s fine. I’d rather take another step back than try and compete with overpriced vets we get via free agency. Maybe we Hamhuis and Bieksa waive and we can get some more picks or make a deal where we actually get fair return. Who knows. Right now, I’m OK with Benning.

  • “I’m sure if we drafter [sic] Nichushkin, Ho-Sang, Nylander, the same people would be saying we can’t compete in the big man conference with skill guys.”

    Nah, pretty sure it would be different people. You know, the ones who think that Boston and LA are good teams because they are ‘big’. The ones “whining” about our picks are the people who are aware of the fact that those teams won because they are ‘skilled’. In fact, pretty sure if small skilled guys were picked, the ‘Bigterbators’ would be the ones complaining that they can’t compete in the “big man conference”.

    “Nichushkin played with two awesome forwards but Whiner Central didn’t consider that.”

    Fair point. My problem was that he seemed like the right choice before we even picked Horvat. His excellent season was just salt in an open wound and seemed to confirm my initial opinion.

    No offence to our picks. I hope they all become great players. Even if they end up in depth roles I’ll still be cheering for them. I just think you should always draft who projects to be the best player available. I’m not sure the franchise did and that concerns me.

    • I kinda think Virtanen was a legit pick. This draft had lots of interchangeable pieces after the top 5. I know what you mean though. More skill would be nice but I think Jake has that. He’s a more complete player and if he develops then he’s a top winger. He has the upside.

      McCann is a solid pick but some want the flashy, skill guy. Fair enough. I prefer a more balanced player and have the odd all-skill guy in there. I think a mix is needed to win (P Kane, Gaborik…they had some timely goals but most of the team was made out of well-rounded guys).

      Anyway, the draft has been fun so far!

      • The problem is that the Patrick Kane is a lot harder to find than the average 2/3 C.

        so… that’s really what it’s down to. We had lots of picks, which means we SHOULD gamble with them on high reward players because we can afford for one or two to bust but still get those gems. That’s the way to play when you have a lot of picks.

        Not picking goalies and future 3rd line centers.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    “I am wondering why the Canucks dealt their third round pick for Dorsett. He really doesn’t bring anything special to the table and is a 4th line player.”

    I agree. Hope he works out though as it would be nice to ice a solid 4th line.

    It’s the top-6 I’m more worried about though. If they use their cap space on a Stastny type I will be happy. If they use it on high priced old above av goalies and/or Bolland I will be very depressed and will seriously “whine”.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      I think we’ll have a very good line 2. We have enough prospects…should be able to get 1 line out of that. The key is your #1 centre of the future and a line 1 winger…we might have that but chances are we do not.

      Stastny will be overpriced and want term. He isn’t a #1 type. He had some lean years prior to the arrival of McKinnon and return of Ryan O’Reilly.

  • Great article & comment by Ted!
    Finally someone who gets it!
    Elite Skill is what IS the difference maker.
    You need 4 studs to win the cup.

    {One D , Two Centers and a winger)
    In 2011 the Canucks had 3.5 {Twins Kes and Ehrhoff 1/2}

    With Kes gone, Now they have 1 Henrik for two more yrs at most. (Daniel is done being a elite player)

    You HAVE to gamble won attitude or smaller or foreign players to get these guys.
    Typically you get these guys in tip round og draft. (Perhaps, one in a trade or later rounds if your lucky)
    The issue now is the Canucks still have zero prospects that have an upside as one of those 4 elite guys.
    Going to be dark in this town for a long time
    Benning IS proving the canucks STILL haven’t recovered from the beatdown in 2011 by the Bruins!

  • Yep. We’re all agreed on needing those skill guys. I think Shinkaruk fits the bill and hopefully he develops.

    We’re rebuilding and we aren’t getting all of these types of players all at once. Benning added lots of depth this weekend. We still have other avenues open to us for obtaining more skilled guys. We have a couple more drafts as well. The next two draft years are shaping up to be much better than this draft year.

    Whiner Nation needs to realize the fix isn’t overnight. I’d love to see us draft high next year and have a chance at McDavid or Eichel. There are other high upside picks too so let’s make some hay then too.

    As Kesler said in his exit interviews, we’re years away from contending. I agree. Bob McKenzie also noted this draft did not have much NHL line 1 talent. I think Virtanen will be a line 1 wing and McCann could be a line 2 centre – yes, that’s an optimistic look!

    Go Canucks go!

  • Spiel

    Its amusing how the Canucks Army writers fancy themselves as fans of advanced stats, but were first to criticize the first two Canucks picks based on their junior hockey point totals, more specifically their point totals from one season of junior hockey.

    Isn’t one of the tenets of the advance stats movement that points are not necessarily the best indicator of ability to play hockey?