As Nolan Baumgartner was introduced as part of the 2017-18 Vancouver Canucks coaching staff on Wednesday at Rogers Arena, Canucks Army had the chance to discuss four key defensive prospects with the 40-year-old who will oversee the Canucks blueline next season.
Baumgartner worked closely with Jordan Subban, Andrey Pedan and Evan McEneny this past season in Utica and was keeping close tabs on Canucks 2016 first rounder Olli Juolevi’s development in the Ontario Hockey League, as well.
All four players are expected to come to Canucks camp in September pushing to earn a spot on the club’s defense. With the departure of Nikita Tryamkin and the possible loss of Luca Sbisa in this month’s expansion draft to stock the Vegas Golden Knights, there will be gaps to fill on the Canucks blueline.
Baumgartner offers his insight on each of the four youngsters and where he thinks they have to develop their games to have a realistic shot of playing in the NHL next season:
Jordan Subban (22-years-old)
65 GP 16+20=36 in 2nd AHL season
NB: He’s gained some experience the last couple of years. He knows what he has to work on. It’s his defending, his D-zone mentality and the way he has to play there. The offensive side of it, he’s dynamic in that area. He can score goals and he can work the power play. For him, he has to have a real self-assessment of his game and where he’s at right now. We talk about it all the time. He’s got to have a good summer and then come into camp and have a really good camp and see where it goes from there.
On Subban going to Nashville to watch Ryan Ellis on Preds defense in playoffs
NB: I’m glad he did that. I love the guys that put forth the effort to do that and go see those games. He sat down close to the glass and saw how fast the game was at that level and what the compete looked like. He talked about watching Ellis and seeing when he got tired on the ice how he got through his shift and what he had to do to get the puck out. Just those little things and those little details of the game, for him to see that up close hopefully he brings those to his own game.
Andrey Pedan (turns 24 on July 3rd)
52 GP 5+5=10 & 100 PIM in fourth full AHL season
NB: we’ve put a lot of work in with Andrey and it’s good to have him back in the fold. It’s that day in and day out, coming to the rink and don’t get down. You can’t lose confidence. For him, he wants to be here and he wants to play and that’s what you want to see in a guy. We have no doubt he’s going to have a good summer. He works hard. He’s a kid that wants to be in the NHL and play. For that part of it, that’s great. He just has to come here and prove himself and that he can play in the league.
Evan McEneny (23)
64 GP 8+15=23 in his first full season in the American Hockey League
NB: Evan opened our eyes big time this year. He was very, very good for us. By the end of the year, he was a guy that when we sat down to put a line-up up on the board, he was a guy we couldn’t take out. That’s what you want in guys. And when you do that, that’s why he got the call (he made his NHL debut on February 25th versus San Jose). He earned it. He works extremely hard on and off the ice and he wants to be an NHL player. He put a lot of work in last year. He was a little bit overweight and he knew it. He had to get into shape and he did it. He did it off the ice. It may have hurt his game a little bit when he did that. But he put the work in and it showed in the end.
Olli Juolevi (19)
58 GP 10+32=42 in second Ontario Hockey League Season
NB: I think with those guys, the big thing is to come into camp and not be nervous. Don’t tip your toe into the pool. You have to jump in. You’ve got to be going from day one. All of us have had that experience when you first come to camp. I remember when I first went to camp, I was almost star-struck and now you’re on the ice with these guys. If you don’t come in and jump right in, you’re going to be behind right away. It’s work every day. It’s the repetition of showing them (young players) video and them going out and doing the drills and working with them before practice and after practice. It’s all that. And you have to keep doing it day in and day out. And you have to have a love for the game and if they have that, they’ll become pros one day.