Photo Credit: NHL.com

Nolan Baumgartner: sizes up chances for Subban, Pedan, McEneny and Juolevi to make the Canucks

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

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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.


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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.

  • Pat Quinn Way

    Two key points here for me – first up, Bomber clearly hasn’t been watching Juolevi as he has no clear opinion on the kid and talks only in general terms. Further to this, WHY does a ‘highly touted’ top 5 draft pick have to prove himself at camp to even make the bigs when the likes of Matty Tkachuk are killing it in the NHL straight outta the draft! This has Benning Bust written all over it (only 1 of 21 draftees are on the Canucks roster in three years)

    Secondly, what an insult to tell Subban he has to go watch Ryan Ellis and play like that or he’s a goner. What an insult – let’s be honest here guys, we all know it’s really about his size and skin colour (Steve Kariya, Richard Park, Gino, Brashear all treated like dirt ) in a well known racist city like Vancouver. It’s so obvious that this kid needs to be transformed into a speedy winger, but no one has the interest in making this happen on the Canucks because thy don’t want him. No wonder PK avoids Vancouver like the plague! Disgraceful.

    • Jabs

      Based on this conclusion, one has to wonder why the Canucks would have even drafted Subban……
      Maybe just because they think he can become a good NHL’er and they like him but he’s not good enough yet?

      • Ragnarok Ouroboros

        I think it’s more a case that you draft for potential, but it’s not a guarantee that the player will make the NHL. Jordan Subban was partially drafted because of his pedigree, ie his brother PK is a star. When you look at the PGPS stats and see that most draft picks only have a 20% chance or less of making the NHL then you can understand why Subban has not made the NHL yet. I personally think is going to make it. He works hard to improve his game and his offence is excellent. If he can clean up his defensive play he wil be fine.

    • Locust

      To impune the organization and the city with calls of systemic racism just proves you have no business being on this site.
      Can the moderator show some integrity here……

    • TheRealPB

      You might want to actually re-read what he said. Using Tkachuk as a reason to dismiss Juolevi is idiotic. By that logic Pulujarvi and Dubois are “busts” too. You cannot possibly evaluate a draft the next season, aside from the generational talents maybe in the McDavids and Matthews (and maybe even in the next tier of Eichel and Laine). But defense is a tough position at the best of times and as has been proven many times over, it takes a lot longer to learn the position. And I don’t for a minute dispute the fact that racism is endemic in the NHL as it is elsewhere and that players like Kane and PK Subban get differential treatment based on “culture” but to pin that on Vancouver is a bit rich.

    • DJ_44

      The Kariya mention is interesting and maybe even appropriate: a little brother of an NHL star that ain’t no where near as good, but happens to have unrealistic expectations (by certain fans) because of the last name.

      …..and my memory may be fading, but were Gina and Brashear 5’9″ ?

      • Hockey Warrior

        Pfft – that’s rich coming from the lunatic troll who says Quinn was a terrible drafter and that Benning is actually better than the big Irish man eh Bud/crofton.

        All you bellyachers need to wise up and realise that the NHL is full of ‘ethnic bias’ and that’s why Stetcher gets a shot over Subban despite both being similar undersized players. There’s also a reason why Van City didnt want the NBA in town and that’s why it failed so miserably under a mountain of debt and humiliation… i’ll let you connect the dots on that one!

        Don’t shoot the messenger guys, just shooting straight from the (tragically) hip on this one.

        • Tedchinook

          The NBA was successful in Vancouver despite the appallingly bad team they gave us. The team left because a carpetbagger from OKC bought the team, promised to stay in Vancouver then headed back to OKC with the team in his suitcase.

        • Neil B

          Stecher is a year older, an inch taller, and 10 lbs heavier; he only got his start last season, after playing against men (in college) for two seasons. Subban has played against men in the AHL for the last 2 seasons. The comparative year for Subban-v-Stecher would be the upcoming season.

          For the record, Ryan Ellis is the same size as Stecher, and he spent two seasons up & down from Milwaukee before earning a regular spot. Torey Krug (BOS) is roughly comparable to Jordan in size, and he played 3 seasons of college & one in Providence before being called up. Jared Spurgeon played only half a season in Huston, but he did play 5 years of junior before being brought up to the pros.

          I’m not denying that conscious or subconscious racial bias might be playing a role in Subban’s case. I am pointing out that, when compared with other undersized offensive defencemen, he’s pretty much following the pattern to date that other, similar players, white or otherwise, have followed.

    • Rob_Mac

      Isn’t his brother playing for the Preds ? Gee, go watch your brother play in the Stanley Cup and watch Ryan while your there. And you turn it into some kind of racial slur… have fun with that.

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        No kidding, right? It’s like Occam’s Razor would be “hey look, there’s a top defenceman who is only 5’10 (Ellis), ie” shorter than average like yourself, that’s having huge success playing on a team that you’re watching anyways, because of your brother, so why not try to pick up some pointers while you’re at the game?” No, it’s gotta be racism.

    • Van94

      Probably the most nonsensical comment I’ve read this year. Of course Subban is just being kept around out of spite. He’s really the next Bobby Orr but Benning will keep him In Utica because…….. ? He hates him for his colour? He hates winning? And of course all the other GMS can see how great he is and would trade early picks to get him but nope we’re a bunch of racsists. And will keep him from having the stellar career that awaits him as soon as he can get free from the Canucks. We’ll forgo the improvement he could be to the team, either as a player or from the picks we could have got for him. And of course the Aquilinis will contribute financially to this program. Do you think this s**t through at all or do you just get high as f#$k and start typing.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Sorry, but can you explain how those players were treated like dirt? Steve Kariya was given a shot, but the guy was 5’6 for Christ’s sake. I don’t like to overemphasize size, but in that era in the NHL, he was always a long shot to stick. Richard Park played for the team for a year and then signed elsewhere as a free agent. Gino Odjick got traded away, sure, but has also received tributes from the franchise, been present at a lot of big moments (eg: Bure night) and is still around the team regularly. And Donald Brashear got traded, whoopdedoo, happens to almost every player. In fact, the only person of colour whose treatment I objected to was Manny Malhotra after his serious eye injury, and the acrimony between team and player was so strong that they hired him as a coach after he retired.

  • TheRealPB

    Fascinating set of interviews thanks for posting these. It was interesting that the problems that have plagued Subban and Pedan since they first came onto the scene still seem to remain — defensive awareness for the first and confidence for the second. I don’t think that the Canucks’ usage of Pedan has helped that confidence, getting shuttled around F and D even when he has played. But it did make me think that despite all the calls for Subban to get a chance there’s a reason that other smallish players — Stetcher, Weber, Larsen — have gotten a shot here and he hasn’t. There’s nothing that the Canucks seem to have against smaller players but NB’s words here continue to raise serious flags not about his size but about his ability to learn how to defend properly. The Juolevi comments are obviously not nearly so in-depth, but it is interest that McEneny is the one that comes off the best here.

  • Jamie E

    Always amused by how deeply attached fans become to players who they have likely never see play. I don’t watch AHL games so I’ll happily take Coach Green and Nolan as their word that Subban has glaring defensive deficiencies that he clearly has not yet overcome. I doubt very much that THEY have it in for him. If the promotion of the Comets coaching staff to the Canucks STILL doesn’t get Subban a look, I think maybe we as fans should take a frikking hint.

    • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

      Following blindly is never the option. Green and Canucks management may be right about him but blind trust is just lazy on behalf of the fan. Then literally nothing can be questioned and we must take coaches at their words 100% of the time. Newsflash: A lot of coaches out there suck. Hopefully Green isn’t one of those

  • Fred-65

    I don’t honestly think racism ever enters into the equation. Vcr is happy to have any player regardless if he’s black, blue or tartan. Subban has been in the organization for 4 years he has been advised by heaven’s know how many astute hockey people he needs to improve his defensive side of the game. And yet here we are 4 years in and he still hasn’t made any improvement … he needs to take ownership of his flaws if he wants to make the NHL. This isn’t on the Canucks it’s on Subban, you’ve been told where you need to improve just do it. As to his visit to Nashville I understand to his credit he did that on his own volition, Vcr. just doesn’t have a spot for a defenseman that can’t play defense and I doubt many other teams have either. Strikes me that the Subban’s maybe have a high regard for themselves and how they should play the game…. but that’s just my opinion

    • DJ_44

      I think Subban has improved his defensive game, and by all accounts works hard. He still is not at the NHL level defensively. He is young, and a defenceman. He can still learn and develop. This is also why it is almost comical that so many clamour to bring up a guy who needs work. A one game taste maybe. More in the preseason if he shows well in camp (which he, unfortunately did not last year). But let’s put him in positions to succeed.

      As far as the last comment, with respect to PK, at least, “it ain’t braggin’ if you back it up”. ‘

      Jordan does not appear to have attitude problems (at least none have been report as far as I know).

      • Ragnarok Ouroboros

        I remember last year I was excited to see Subban in the training camp, and I watched all the prospect and preseason games. Subban definitely was not good enough defensively, and Troy Stetcher was a revelation. Size is not the issue as evidenced by the fact that Troy Stetcher is probably never going back to the AHL. I think it is an honest assessment, that Subbans defensive game is not where it should be yet. And as a side note, it was PK Subban that recommended to Jordan to study and model his game after Ellis. Subban was showing good initiative to attend the predator games, and to support his brother of course.

    • Rodeobill

      I am also sure his going to Nashville to watch Ellis wasn’t the only reason to go either, If my brother was playing in the Stanley cup final, you’d better believe I’m there too.

  • Wouldn’t it be grand if the Canucks, rather than telling Subban and Pedan to learn vicariously and not be sad, actually played them in an NHL game (as defencemen) so they can experience for themselves and figure out where they need to improve?

      • I agree. But pre-season is a mishmash of prospects, invites and the odd veteran who haven’t really practiced together. Still not the same as a team of veterans who are in mid-season form. I’d fully expect them to take lumps and get scored on but that’s the point, so they can figure out what really works and doesn’t work in the big leagues.

        • DJ_44

          The problem with this approach for defenceman (perhaps slightly different for scorers or playmakers where they expect the other players to be where they should be) is that if you are getting beat in your own zone in the AHL, you better figure it out there, because the NHL is only going to be worse.

          • I always think back to some interviews that compared the AHL to the NHL, I recall part of it came from Cory Schneider but I can’t remember the other interview. Schneider said that shot volume was higher in the AHL but of lower quality. In the NHL, if you’re not bang on (as a goalie), it’s in the net. The game was also much more structured in the NHL than the AHL. In the other interview, the player was saying how players didn’t necessarily function as a team because everyone was trying to impress to get promoted. I think there would still be value to getting beat in the NHL because it would be a different experience. The two experiences (AHL vs. NHL) would provide a good contrast and hopefully trigger a mental breakthrough. Maybe someone would thrive in the more structured NHL environment compared to the wild west AHL? Who knows? Best to find out by actually doing, IMHO.

  • myshkin

    He sounded pretty positive on Pedan. He can’t come out and say Pedan’s going to make the team but he complimented his work ethic and said he shouldn’t get down. Sounds positive for Pedan.

  • truthseeker

    Personally, I’m really pulling for Subban. I want him to get his shot. Seems like the offense is one that could be better than anything we’ve got on the team right now.

    But I also think the coaches probably know more than I do about the rest of his game and how it will work in the NHL.

    There does seem to be a bit of a weird standard of who gets their shot with the canucks though. Like that D guy at the end of the year who got called up. Can’t even remember his name. Part of me thinks the whole “responsible in your own end” is a bit extreme, and that the team as it sits now can afford to give Subban a shot even if he’s not perfect defensively. The offensive numbers should be enough to warrant that.

    I know…they don’t want to “ruin a kid’s confidence”, but I kind of think NHL teams baby their prospects too much.

    Still…I think many fans are blowing the whole Subban situation out of proportion. It’s OK if he needs a little more time in the minors. He’s still a young player. People need to chill.

  • Sandpaper

    The love affair continues. If a player is brutal defensively, which apparently he is, then he has no right to be in the nhl.
    If he improves that aspect of his game game, maybe we could use him as a 4th liner/PP specialist or something, until then, minors it shall be.

  • Sounds like McEneny has the best shot of making the big show, while flying in under our radar.

    Subban is turning into a fan favorite. I’m sure he would be a Canuck, if it wasn’t for his deficiencies. To say race or color has anything to do with it is ridiculous. With Jordan, I sense a young man who is stubborn and thinks he can get by only scoring points. In that sense, he reminds me of a forward who refuses to back check. Jordan has to be able to play defense first.

    • Bud Poile

      Watching his brother and the top-4 D for Nashville will give him timely lessons on defensive positioning and necessity of quick puck movement.
      He’s ready to break through and everyone knows we desperately need his offensive skills.
      It’s all up to Jordan.

      • Braindead Benning

        As much as I would like to see Subban excel In all likelihood I don’t believe that he will ever be able to perform defensively at the NHL, however some have suggested he may be able to carve out a career if they switched him
        to a winger much like what Scott Walker did early in his career.

    • Bud Poile

      Jordan turned 22 in March.
      He finished up in 17th and 19th place amongst all AHL d-men in his only two years in the league.
      AHL all-star.
      The young man will muscle up and llearn to play a more effectively strategic game.
      I’d enjoy seeing how he plays with Joulevi on the 2nd PP unit.

      • Neil B

        As I mentioned above, let’s also bear in mind that Stecher had played 2 seasons vs men before his call-up; and clear NHL-calibre guys like Krug needed 3-4 years. It’s a bit early yet to get down on either Subban or the team. Let the kid develop at his own pace; if he’s a 1-in-5 hit that sticks in the NHL, his game will be worth the wait.

  • Super ndn

    I believe in Linden so far love the potential Young prospects up and coming. With that said as a fan that bleeds canuck blood, we need a coach that loves youth and knows how to work with them like Quinn. But also knows how to tell owners and above staff to stay out of lower end of arena so we can develop proper hockey players. For instance hearing trymkin left cause he didn’t want to hurt other players ….come on with all the stick infraction going on and u don’t like to run players over and rather use skills u don’t have grrrr….we need to lay off Benning, anybody tell me were do u get a gm that stocks potential like he did this past year. Burrows for Dhalen what a steal… anybody that thinks olie is a bust take ur canuck gear off and never cheer for us again. I bet Olie becomes the next Ohlund for us but better….the one black mark on our canuck turn around is we keep thinking 25 g are a first line material…..wake up peeps if ur not pushing top 15 in scoring ur not number one line material period…..Bo needs talent to play with….svey is our Raymond of old fast no hands lucky to get more than 20 g a yr ….how old is too old come on megna, skille, great role players 4th line at best….twins need fast player who can handle the puck on third line , 2nd pwerplay ….Jake if someone can show u this I believe in you….please take ur career serious this summer and come to camp to b our cam Neely ….hit hard, shoot lots from everywhere, and most importantly be a team player…..Jake , Bo, Dhalen 1st line, brosser, centre not Sutter, goldoblin 2line, twins and grandlund 3rd line, the rest for 4th….they need to get rid of Sutter, Sven, Edler, Miller….I hope Benning n Linden n owners stop trying to make players more than they r…..1st line needs to push for top 15 in scoring….2nd line needs to b top 25 in scoring…..3rd line needs to b ur shutdown line…4th line needs to hit everything that moves and kills penalty like no other….ur last set of dman should b ur meanest pair…..other two pairs should b top 25 in points…. I know dream world but balance of talent n mean going to get us to cup cause Bettmen doesn’t like the Canucks n reffs r always going to b against us especially in the playoffs…. Benning n Linden big mistake not moving to Abby ahl team if a player can’t make those long trips in the ahl what makes u think they r going to make it in the Biggs ….I love the Canucks have a great summer​ Travis

    • Gregthehockeynut

      Canucks biggest problem after scoring depth is too many undersized players. Small skill players need some size to compliment their skill set. Pat Quin had decades of success with the mix of a scorer-playmaker-grinder line combos.
      I am puzzled by this new trend to stack the small players in the top six and mostly big bodies in the bottom six. Then teams struggle with line matchups {see Canucks road record}.