Here at Canucks Army, we love three things more than anything in the world: prospects, prospect rankings, and whining about prospect rankings. Every summer we vote on and rank the top-20 Canucks prospects to take stock of what’s in the system, and every summer we hear vocal complaints from our readers they disagree with our rankings.
So this year, in our mid-term ranking, we gave you the chance to vote on prospects and have a say on these players. Since our summer rankings, we’ve simplified the definition of “prospect” to any player in the Vancouver Canucks’ system that is eligible for the Calder Trophy if they were to play in the NHL this year. This means that players like Linden Vey and Joacim Eriksson who were not rated over the summer will be covered in this series.
Without further adieu, here are the Canucks prospects that were rated 20th to 17th.
I’ll start off by mentioning the Honourable Mentions. These are the players who received votes but not enough to qualify and make the top 20 prospects. These players in no particular order are: Dane Fox, Darren Archibald, Joseph LaBate, Peter Andersson, Anton Cederholm, Ronalds Kenins, Mike Zalewski, Kyle Pettit.
#20 – Alex Friesen
Summer Ranking: Not Rated
At the end of last season Alex Friesen finished off the year with the Utica Comets by scoring 18 points in the last 18 games after having scored 2 points the previous 36 games played. This seems to have been a PDO run as this year Alex Friesen has scored 4 goals and 6 assists through 26 games played. He has a shooting percentage of a 9.75% and has improved his shot rate from 1.18 to over 1.5 shots per game.
Friesen is playing mainly on the 3rd line in Utica and has missed over 15 games due to injury and to being a healthy scratch. Given that he is now 24 years old it is unlikely he will ever be in the NHL, adding to the blow of Mike Gillis drafting older players experiment.
Friesen is an RFA this summer so it will be interesting to see if the Canucks organization feels he adds enough value to their AHL farm team to re-sign him and keep him with the team.
#19 – Evan McEneny
Summer Ranking: 18th
Evan McEneny dropped slightly in this years rankings but he continues to remain a really good and unsung free agent signing. We saw recently in our data analysis that McEneny has one of the better chances of all Canucks CHL defensive prospects to make it to the big show.
With the Kingston Frontenacs this season, McEneny has 4 goals and 24 assists over 43 games, and this comes with the Fronts having the 2nd lowest shooting percentage of all OHL teams. McEneny is playing on the top pairing in Kingston and even saw a game of action in the AHL last season.
He is currently on the first year of his Entry-Level Contract as it does not slide during his 20 year old season. It is a slight concern that he is back in the OHL as an Over-Ager. But give then Utica top defensive spots were already assigned to Frank Corrado, Bobby Sanguinetti, Alex Biega, Peter Andersson, (at the time) Henrik Tommernes, and the surprise success of Travis Ehrhardt, it appears the OHL was the better option for McEneny this year.
#18 – Patrick McNally
Summer Ranking: Not Rated
Patrick McNally has been having an excellent year in the NCAA averaging over 2.79 shots a game and having scored 4 goals and 12 assists in 15 games – point and shot production that would rival many forwards in the NCAA. This is a huge turn around given that he missed a year of training due to the Harvard Cheating scandal.
However, he is 23 years old leading to concerns that he is a man playing amongst children. It is unclear at this point what will happen in his future. McNally does have a year of NCAA eligibility left, given the time he did not play, and news out of the Harvard Crimson suggests he was considering playing for a 5th year.
His season however appears to have come to an end due to a leg injury that the team is not fully disclosing. This is a huge blow to Harvard as McNally was playing in the top pairing and Harvard is currently the 2nd best team in the ECAC. The Canucks have not signed him yet as they cannot until he leaves the NCAA, it will be worth while to keep an eye on McNally to see what happens. If he does play in Harvard for another year the Canucks have his rights until 30 days after he leaves school, but that does not speak well to his NHL chances of success.
#17 – Nikita Tryamkin
Summer Ranking: 17th
The 6’7″ Russian Bear Nikita Tryamkin has played almost 50 games this year in the KHL having scored a total of 1 goal and 3 assists. He is barely managing over one shot on goal per game, and it does not help that he is receiving bottom pairing time. A big concern that stands out is that his average ice time is dropping drastically every week.
I have not been a fan of this pick as it appears the Canucks went after the big player rather than the skilled player. Money Puck wrote about how young players in senior leagues tend to have higher success rates than their counter parts in junior leagues. However this study was for U18 players and Tryamkin is now over 20 years old and still cannot score more than one point every ten games. I would give him another couple of years to see how he develops, but his chances success do not currently look very strong.
Stay tuned for part two of this series, which will run on Friday and cover the 16th-13th prospects in Vancouver’s system!