Unfortunately, the nature of professional sports is that there tends to be an inverse relationship between the success of the NHL club and the relevance of (/stock put into) its farm system, as we’ve seen up close and personal lately.
This is my 3rd year participating in the annual Canucks Army Top 20 Prospect Profile series, and suffice it to say, it’s shaping up to be easily the most uplifting of the bunch. We’re still a few weeks away from actually reaping the rewards of that though, seeing as we’ve just started counting down from 20 this week.
In lieu of that, ESPN’s (but most importantly friend of the blog, as he’d be the first to tell you) Corey Pronman released his Top 100 list, which you can read here. If you don’t have an Insider account you should look into it because the work himself, Frank Provenzano, and Craig Custance do there is top notch. With that being said, I’ve gone ahead and spliced some of the key takeaways for our purposes together.
Four recent draft picks of the Canucks made the cut, with another being listed as an honourable mention. This was enough to land the pipeline as a whole a top-10 spot in the organizational rankings.
- Bo Horvat: 19th overall
- Jake Virtanen: 26th overall
- Hunter Shinkaruk: 31st overall
- Jared McCann: 77th overall
- Frank Corrado: “Just Missed”
After coming in at 28th in Pronman’s rankings last summer, Horvat obviously moved up a few notches after his largely successful season in London. In his little blurb, Pronman notes that “he’s not an overly flashy player, but Horvat has a lot of skill to go with a developed frame, advanced defensive play, and ace faceoff work. He’ll push for NHL time this season.”
Of note is the fact that Virtanen’s ranking put him behind 5 players that were taken after the Canucks picked him 6th overall this summer, including the likes of Willie Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kevin Fiala, Haydn Fleury, and Kasperi Kapanen. Disconcerting, but unsurprising, considering Pronman had Virtanen ranked 11th in the lead-up to the draft, behind all of those aforementioned names.
Shinkaruk dropped a few spots from last season, deservedly so after having missed the majority of the campaign with injury. Pronman still seems to be rather optimistic – as, spoiler alert: our staff that voted on our top 20 was as well – noting:
“Shinkaruk did not have a great season, seeing his performance dip and his season get derailed by injury. However, he has shown a lot prior to this season, so that’s why I’m willing to give him one year as a mulligan to see what he’s like when healthy. At the top of his game, Shinkaruk has fantastic puck skills, agile skating and a real craftiness to his game. Though he’s listed as a center, he likely projects to the wing at the NHL level.”
And finally, here’s what Pronman had to say on McCann:
“McCann had a quality second OHL season, as he was leaned on in a significant manner as an all-situations forward, and had the game-winning goal in the CHL top prospects game. He has above-average puck skills and quickness, combined with a very good shot and understanding of the game. He isn’t the biggest, meanest or flashiest player, but he makes a lot of plays.”
UPDATE: A ranking of the individual prospect systems, from 1-30, was just recently published by Corey Pronman as a follow-up to his Top 100. In it he had the Canucks ranked 9th, giving them a noteworthy bump up from the 20th spot he had them in last Fall.
It’s once again behind an Insider paywall, but it stipulates the following regarding a pipeline that was sandwiched by the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens:
“This is a system that’s dramatically changed with four first-round picks in the past two seasons, including top-10 selections Bo Horvat and Jake Virtanen. The pipeline’s quality doesn’t extend too far beyond Vancouver’s top prospects who were recently picked, but the core of this group is a very impressive one.”
Hopefully that was enough to quench your thirst for the time being. Keep checking back in here as we’ll have daily profiles going up in the lead-up to these 4 names, for which we’ll write in extensive detail about.