Photo Credit: Alex Cooper / Utica Observer-Dispatch

Lind and Gadjovich’s Struggles Highlight a Worrisome Rookie Trend in Utica

The struggles of the Comets rookies this season have been well documented. Two in particular that have drawn attention are Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich, selected by the Canucks in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, at 33rd and 55th, respectively. Lind went on to have a fantastic draft-plus-one WHL season with the Kelowna Rockets, prompting Jim Benning’s draft day comments on Lind (“Why isn’t anyone taking Kole Lind?”) to go viral on a routine basis throughout the 2017-18 campaign. Lind worked himself into a conversation of second-round steals. While Gadjovich’s draft-plus-one season in the Ontario Hockey League wasn’t quite as strong (he dealt with a myriad of injuries throughout the year), he still looked like a promising prospect.

This season, those perceptions have taken a bit of a hit. Both Lind and Gadjovich, who have late calendar year birthdays and thus were allowed to join the American League in the draft-plus-two seasons, were assigned to the Utica Comets to start 2018-19 campaign. Since then, they have just four goals apiece (including one each in last night’s drubbing of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and while both have dealt with injuries at points, those numbers are still very disappointing on a per game rate considering pre-season expectations.

Running the Numbers

As is my usual modus operandi, I ran the numbers to find out just how common this is. As it turns out, we are not overstating it – these junior-to-pro conversion rates are in fact below average for forwards in this situation. In a worrisome twist, however, they are pretty normal for the Utica Comets.

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The following chart plots the goals per game rates (one year to the next) of forwards that made the jump from Canadian junior leagues to the American League between 2014 and 2019. Only forwards with 20 games played in each season were considered. A trendline slices across the plot, showing an unsurprising positive correlation between the two rates, and signifies an approximate average. Anyone above that line had a higher-than-expected junior-to-pro offensive conversion rate. Anyone below that line had a lower-than-expected conversion rate. You’ll notice that almost all of the Canucks prospects listed fall below that line, though a few players are nestled right up against it.

Lind and Gadjovich have among the most disappointing conversions on the list, and they’re joined down there by a couple of other former Canucks prospects in Cole Cassels and Michael Carcone. Cassels, once the tongue-in-cheek antidote for McDavid that was predicted to usurp Brandon Sutter as the team’s defensive centre at some point, is now playing in Europe after several underwhelming seasons with the Comets (notwithstanding a late push that wasn’t enough to get his contract qualified). Carcone picked his game up over the following seasons, and has since been turned into Josh Leivo, which is a clear win for Benning and Co.

Meanwhile, three Canucks prospects sit up near the trendline: Brendan Gaunce, Alexis D’Aoust, and Zack MacEwen. Gaunce is still toiling away in Utica, but played just three NHL games in a season in which the Canucks were riddled with injuries at every position, suggesting that he isn’t in the organization’s long term plans (although good luck convincing me that Gaunce can’t give you what Tim Schaller gave you for half the cost). D’Aoust, who I was a fan of, was never signed to an NHL contract and thus wasn’t technically a Canucks prospect, but he was someone who consistently attended prospect camps and Young Stars tournaments, and played for Utica on an AHL contract. He has since left to join the Manitoba Moose, splitting this season between the AHL and ECHL to modest success.

MacEwen is Utica’s shining example of developmental success at this point, and deservedly so. The unheralded, undrafted forward affectionately known as the Big Fella has had two strong seasons in Utica (and a cup of coffee in the NHL) after Vancouver signed him as a free agent out of QMJHL Gatineau. As impressive as his American League rookie and sophomores seasons have been, however, you’ll notice that he’s still only just barely touching the average in terms of junior-to-pro goal rate conversion.

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Not included in the above chart is Hunter Shinkaruk, who was actually the Comets most successful rookie to date in terms of goal scoring. Shinkaruk’s career has taken a sharp downturn since then, but the Canucks did manage to turn him into Markus Granlund before that happened. The table below lays out each of the CHL-to-AHL forwards that played at least 10 games in each league.

Name Jr Season Jr League GP G Pts G/GP AHL Season GP G Pts G/GP G/GP Retention %
Hunter Shinkaruk 2014 WHL 18 5 16 0.28 2015 74 16 31 0.22 0.78
Zack MacEwen 2017 QMJHL 66 31 74 0.47 2018 64 10 32 0.16 0.33
Brendan Gaunce 2014 OHL 65 31 72 0.48 2015 74 11 29 0.15 0.31
Alexis D’Aoust 2017 QMJHL 50 29 60 0.58 2018 56 10 21 0.18 0.31
Jonah Gadjovich 2018 OHL 42 25 48 0.60 2019 40 4 10 0.10 0.17
Michael Carcone 2016 QMJHL 66 47 89 0.71 2017 61 5 18 0.08 0.12
Kole Lind 2018 WHL 58 39 95 0.67 2019 49 4 15 0.08 0.12
Cole Cassels 2015 OHL 54 30 81 0.56 2016 67 2 7 0.03 0.05
Yan-Pavel Laplante 2016 QMJHL 63 34 65 0.54 2017 13 0 1 0.00 0.00

If we start looking around the league at other prospects and other organizations, we can see a wide variety conversion rates. The gold standard this season is Tampa Bay’s Alex Barre-Boulet, who scored 33 goals this year in his rookie season with the Syracuse Crunch. Ottawa’s Drake Batherson is a distant second with 22 goals for Belleville. There are more than two dozen other such forwards with more than 10 goals. In fact, altogether there are 47 CHL-to-AHL rookie forwards that have more goals than Lind and Gadjovich do.

A closer look at those 47 rookie forwards with more goals than Lind and Gadjovich reveals some unsettling observations:

  • Of that group, 12 are undrafted, including the aforementioned Barre-Boulet.
  • Of the ones that were drafted, 20 were taken in the third round or later.
  • In their 2017-18 seasons in junior, 28 had fewer than Lind’s 39 goals with the Rockets, and ten had fewer than Gadjovich’s 25 goals with the Attack.

There are also eight CHL-to-AHL rookie defencemen that have put up more goals than Lind and Gadjovich, including Cale Fleury, who was selected in the third round in the same draft as the two Canucks prospects. Fleury has tallied nine goals in 57 games with Montreal’s affiliate, the Laval Rocket.

Games played are always a factor to consider, and by rate it only gets worse. Gadjovich, who played 40 games with the Comets this season, is 48th in goals per game in our sample. Kole Lind, with 49 games played, is 55th. Only a handful of forwards remain with fewer goals per game: the most notable being Cliff Pu, a third round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2016, who has just two goals in 53 games respectively.

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Even if we focused on the brighter prospects, the contrast to the rest of the NHL is readily apparent. The high water mark for Comets CHL-to-AHL rookies was set by Shinkaruk, whose 16 goals are 35th among CHL-to-AHL rookies in that half-decade comprising the Comets existence. The next two Comets rookies on the list are Jordan Subban and Brendan Gaunce, whose 11 goals have them 96th.

During their five-year existence, the Comets have gotten 82 goals out of CHL-to-AHL rookies, which by my rough calculations sits at 20th in the NHL (this is exercise is a little tricky because of the frequency with which AHL franchises switch affiliations). In that same time frame, the Tampa Bay Lightning/Syracuse Crunch have 196 goals from CHL-to-AHL rookies, including nine players than hit double digits in goals in their first pro season. Some of the other top teams include Arizona (193 goals), San Jose (173 goals), Carolina (146 goals) and Columbus (142 goals) – a set of four playoff teams and one near miss. Six more franchises collected 100 or more goals from CHL-to-AHL rookies in the last five seasons.

It wouldn’t be fair, however, to penalize the Comets for raw goals, as teams will get widely varying amounts of games for rookies coming from Canadian junior – just one of a number of potential streams for incoming players. But once again, accounting for per-game rate does the Comets no favours, as their CHL-to-AHL prospects have had the third worst goals-per-game rate among all organizations in the last five seasons, with a goals-per-game rate of 0.11 (82 goals in 742 games). Only Nashville and Washington have performed worse in this regard.

But Why?

The big question for Jim Benning and the Canucks will be: why is this happening? Is there an issue with their development process? Or with the way the prospects are being used on the farm? Or were they just not ready for professional hockey this season? None of the above are comfortable questions, as each of them reflect unfavourably on the Canucks and their handling of their prospects.

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There has been no shortage of criticism of Trent Cull’s deployment of prospects this season, and while I don’t intend on piling on, there are key differences between Utica’s philosophy and that of other organizations that have cropped up recently. Patrick Williams, who covers the entire AHL, joined TSN’s Rink Wide program a few weeks ago and discussed just how unusual Utica’s deployment of prospects is.

“Generally players that come in as top three round draft picks get a lot of leeway and a lot of opportunity, and they have to prove that they can’t play. I was surprised to see the some of the playing time, and some of the struggles that some pretty solid prospects had to go through this season in Utica.”

Even more recently, Calgary GM Brad Treliving spoke about how much more important development is than winning when it comes to the minor leagues. Treliving called the AHL team record “somewhat irrelevant”, as was quoted as saying the following to Ryan Huska, published in this article by Darren Haynes on the Athletic:

“When I interviewed with Brad (Treliving), Connie and Brad (Pascall), they made it very clear that priority No. 1 is developing guys and making sure they’re ready to play in the NHL,” Huska said. “Tree even said it one time. I don’t care if you guys go 0-72, as long as guys develop. Then he stopped and caught himself. Well, maybe not 0-72.”

Contrast that against the winning environment and winning culture touted by Utica GM Ryan Johnson and others, and you have two very different philosophies. The winning culture argument is an admirable one, and it’s easy to see the logic behind not wanting your players to spend time of a team mired in constant losing. That said, Treliving and Huska made no explicit mention in that article about the importance of winning (in fact, Treliving is reported as saying the opposite), and how is it working out for the Flames? Andrew Mangiapane had a 20-goal rookie season in 2016-17, while Dillon Dube (Kole Lind’s former Kelowna teammate), Matthew Phillips and Glenn Gawdin scored 15, 13, and 11 goals this season, respectively, each as a rookie.

These may simply be two avenues to the same destination, and maybe it’s unfair to judge the focus on a winning environment on just these two teams. Where Utica’s philosophy has really fallen apart, however, is that the winning itself has become a rare occurrence. Prior to last night’s stomping of the Baby Penguins, the Comets had lost five of their last six, and 14 of their last 16 games. In combination with horrendous dry spells for prospects and vets across the board, it’s hard to find positives when the team isn’t winning and the prospects aren’t producing. Hopefully last night’s rout is a sign of things to come and not just a blip.

The success of a player like MacEwen, who has continued to develop in leaps and bounds in his second pro season, in conjunction with the struggles of Lind and Gadjovich as well as the exits of Jonathan Dahlen and Petrus Palmu, raises some questions as to the type of player that Utica’s philosophy and staff is built to develop. A hard-nosed player like MacEwen seems to be responding well in that system, but he projects are more of a bottom six depth contributor at the NHL level, while a myriad of skill players with middle or top six aspirations struggle to get traction.

It’s well established at this point that different players learn in different ways. It behooves modern sports franchises to adapt their development strategies to the players they have, rather than forcing the same strategies on all players, as this method has the unintentional consequence of artificially limiting the types of players that the organization is capable of producing. From the outside looking in, this appears to be a problem that the Utica Comets are currently facing.

Prospects are integral to any team’s future, and it has been shown in this space and others (most recently in a Province article here by Canucks Army alumni Patrick Johnston) how the success of an American League team can forecast the success of the NHL club, particularly when that success is driven by younger players.

Whatever the reason is for the consistently low totals of the Comets rookies, the impetus is on Canucks management to fix the problem. While the Canucks themselves are currently being buoyed by elite talent that has bypassed Utica altogether, their overall scoring has been the lowest in the NHL over the last four combined seasons. It would go a long way toward turning that trend around if the prospects down in Utica started posting some loftier totals. If they can’t figure out a way to make that work, they’re going to need to continue drafting talent that can make the jump straight to the NHL. One has to wonder about the long term success of a plan like that though – and what that says about your minor league club when having prospects stay away from the farm starts looking like a prudent development strategy.

  • Goon

    This is a worrying article, to say the least. There’s something clearly rotten in Utica. Of the team’s three top European prospects, one sat the whole season out with injury and the other two ended up leaving the team under a cloud, claiming they weren’t being given guidance, ice time, and a chance to develop. Both of the team’s top North American prospects had massively disappointing seasons, suggesting either they weren’t ready for pro and should have spent another year in Junior, or they’re not being given appropriate guidance, ice time, and a chance to develop, as the European prospects claimed.

    Utica had the top-flight talent coming in to the team at the start of the season to have a great year – instead, they’re near the bottom of the standings. Benning & Co. *can’t* turn a blind eye to this. Ask Edmonton: it’s not enough to have your high-end first round picks turn into stars – you need a steady pipeline of depth prospects making an AHL impact and cracking the NHL roster for a rebuild to be successful.

    • DJ_44

      Okay Goon. Interesting the the #1 European prospect, Juolevi, was near league leaders in scoring for rookie defenceman when he was injured — and this was coming off a less than ideal off-season(and again….making a link between being “something rotten” regarding development and brutal injury luck is a bit of a stretch).

      The # 2 European prospect — Dahlen — was having an excellent first NA pro season — his goal/points totals in Utica were the same as the shining example Jeremy used — Dillon Dube. He was given Top-6 minutes and was on PP1. His was the #1LW prospect and being treated as such. It was well documented — by both sides — that there was a disagreement regarding Dahlen’s readiness for the NHL: Dahlen’s camp thought he was ready; the Canucks did not. Dahlen’s camp requested a trade — and the Canucks agreed. Perhaps they feel there are flaws in his game that will not allow him reach where he was originally projected.

      The #3 European prospect – Jasek – has played well, and will probably finish the year with double digit goals. This is good progress for a 1st year NA pro that had a rough ride for the last three seasons in Europe.

      The #4, 5′-6″, twice pass thru the draft, 6th round pick, European prospect – Palmu – whom I liked at Prospects camp (liked less at main camp), was not good at the start of the season. He was probably #5LW on the depth chart, behind Boucher, Dahlen, Archibald, Gadjovich. When he played he was either unnoticeable (at best), or plain out terrible. Finland was probably a wise decision by both sides.

      Speaking of Gadjovich, he is a longer-term project. The Canucks/Comets state they have a individual development plan for each prospect. Jonah, in my mind, need another full season, probably 2 more, in the AHL. He needs to improve his skating …. plain and simple. It is not acceptable at the AHL level, let alone the NHL level. Improved conditioning will also help. I think it was absolutely the correct move to have him play in Utica. He needs to play against men, not boys in Jr where his size will mask the deficiencies in his game.

      And finally Cole Lind. While Davis thinks his season is disappointing; it was only so from a goals and more applicably and injury perspective. He took massive strides in adapting his game to the professional level. He struggled in October, but was starting to come around prior to a month long injury in December, and then the light went on in Jan/Feb — before another injury in March (not one mention in the article of two significant injuries that may have affected his play this season — well done Jeremy). Lind will be fine. I would think he will get #1RW status next season with MacEwen graduating to the NHL. He has not lost his shot. He has rounded out his game. Imagine the thought of a 19yr old, 2nd round draft pick in his D+2 season requiring 2 seasons in the AHL …….. what a disaster.

      Finally, no mention of Briesbois, Sautner, Chatfield (terrible injury luck). All took further steps forward this season.

      • EP40MVP

        DJ do you have any idea what exactly are you on about here i’ve read a lot from botchford/kuzma/JD Burke/Morrealle/Johnston etc this year to know very well that Dahlen wasn’t having that “excellent first year” you talking about his 5V5 ratio was outclassed by jasek his stats/corsi weren’t exactly great either neither was his TOI/GP & when he got traded his statement and JB’s statement was nowhere near close(Dahlen didnt request a trade he expressed his issues with how he was being deployed in the AHL and how he was “scared” of getting benched from a simple mistake every time he played he also said he didnt feel he had the proper linemates for him to develop). His TOI in SJ Barracuda has been more than he ever got in UTICA too. Palmu said the same words as well he saw no directory said he had no idea what his role was during his time in utica i’ve seen some people in finland say he wont be returning to the AHL next year yes he was always a long shot to make it to the NHL but he never stood a chance under trent cull he had 5mins TOI every GP he played how is that called development when Palmu had an excellent year before in the SM-LIIGA how is that supposed to help a propsect have that “learning process” as JB says. Of course he was “unnoticeable” he barely saw the ice when he was in utica. Lind/Gadjovich if both weren’t ready for the AHL then they shouldn’t even have been in the AHL this year they could have played in the ECHL/JRs but instead they were stuck playing with ECHL_AHL career leaguers with 10TOI/GP. I’ll agree with jasek/Juolevi i think both does have the potential to graduate from the AHL over the rest of the prospects we have done there but jasek also hasnt been given the right opportunities either hes been playing on the 4th line for half the year. Brisebois has looked terrible in the NHL i saw every game and he never stood out as a DF that was “NHL-ready” as JB says he is. Sautner should have gotten more chances again and thats my point none of our young prospects were ever given the right chances to develop/play. I know Cull was in that TB scenario where they produced player after player but most of it had to do with cooper/Yzerman not Cull cooper gave those players(Sustr,Gourde,Dotchin,Palat,Killorn, Paquette,Joseph,Peca etc) the opportunities to develop. Maybe all of them will work out in the end but i think we can all agree this year was a waste of a development year for our prospects basically stunted their growth with all that “winning mentality learning process” BS we hear from JB/Cull. The issue isnt just with our prospects in the AHL look at goldobin the way they deployed him this year was laughable same goes with Virtanen + Demko its from the top to the bottom. Hopefully Lind/Gadjovich work out in the end im still optimistic but looking at how many of that 2nd round has outproduced both is definitely concerning

          • DJ_44

            So…..you don’t watch the comets play … you rely on Vancouver media that don’t watch the Comets play.

            I watch the comets play and form an opinion based on the gameplay I see …. yet I am the one who is stupid….got it.

            To borrow Jeremy’s ‘objective’ stats based approach…Dahlen has a grand total of 4 assists in his career with the SJB (since Feb 21). Appeared to be doing better under Cull’s development plan?

          • EP40MVP

            hey DJ i dont know if you know but dahlen has been injured since March 16th prior to that he had 4 assists in seven GPs i’ve watched the comets play a bunch of times this year and i KNOW just how they been using their prospects I know how many times they scratched lind/Gadjovich/Jasek/Dahlen+Palmu prior to them leaving for 7th Defenceman/career minor leaguers

          • EP40MVP

            i hate to break this to you DJ but lind name is KOLE not COLE so yeah i think i had a point in saying you were either plain stupid or on the JB train. Also you say lind can be a “#1 RW” next year JB hasnt even mentioned him or gadjovich at all since the start of the season as players that were promising hes only ever mentioned schenn, brisebois,sautner,MacEwen,Gaudette as players that he felt were “promising” goes to show how much JB sees in both now right.

          • EP40MVP

            im sure any reasonable person would know that you can’t expect a young prospect to grow if you don’t even play them what exactly was the point in keeping them in the AHL the ECHL is a MEN’s League last time i checked. Fact is many of the players drafted after them have had better seasons than both combined.(Shaw,Volkov,Hague,texier,geekie,batherson,Leschyshyn to name a few have all looked more NHL-caliber) yeah i clearly dont know my hockey it seems the only one who doesn’t is you as you clearly dont even know dahlen was injured and had to “search in the article” i guess you rely on articles as well not by your own knowledge yeah okay.

          • DJ_44

            ….. and we wondered what would happen if a mouth-breather from the valley choose to communicate with the written word.

            Not only did i know Dahlen was injured….i watched his games playing for SJB. The article I sesrched was this one.

            Jeremy did not even mention the fact that Lind was injured for a month two seperate times this season….yet used overall point totals to claim lack of development. Hence the selective use of stats.
            Benning listed the callups from Utica in his interview….hence no Lind.

            No wonder Botchford relies on 5-word sentences….can’t risk his target audience not understanding

          • EP40MVP

            JB was asked about the utica development in that interview not about utica callups and he again was asked the same question post-trade deadline in which he named the same few players over and over again but not once did he mention lind or gadjovich come on man it seems like your just plain hopping on this regime pack of BS like the delulu you are. yes Lind was injured so was gadjovich but thats not the point fam even when they were healthy they barely played if you truly are the ahl watching wizkid you would know. I unlike you trust what i see and trust what i read/hear from those who follow the canucks for years instead of some delulu who thinks the utica comets are a development program GOD and JB has some master “plan” as you so say

      • Goon

        None of Brisbois, Sautner, or Chatfield project be NHL regulars. If any of them carve out an NHL career, it will almost certainly be as #7/replacement level guys. So no, no mention of them, because they’re not really worth mentioning, and the fact that you point to these guys as examples of success in Utica just underscores the dearth of decent prospects actually making an impact for the Canucks in the minors.

        • DJ_44

          Briesbois and Sautner proved they are more than capable of being NHL regulars. Sure, bottom pairing, but both can skate, move the puck, play physical and defend.

          In my opinion, Sautner is a better option than Hutton; Briesbois will easy surpass Hutton with more NHL experience.

          Chatfield l would agree, although he was oneof many players that were out for extended periods with injury this season.

          • KCasey

            I am dying to know where this injury report for Dahlen comes from. I have scoured the net and he hasnt even popped up in anything close to a sniff of a injury. Its not on the Barracudas or Sharks website. The AHL injury reports. Its not anywhere. So while I dont wanna call anyone a liar….any facts or evidence to back it up….uuumm…..dont exist. What does exist however is a asterisk next to his name along side 9 other guys in the Barracudas roster charts. The legend at the bottom of the webpage says it means the players are ‘inactive’. So unless the Barracudas are suffering from an legendary all time bad injury plague….yall better cut it with this injury noise.

          • KCasey

            Well look at that, there is at least some indication that he could be injured. Appreciate some sort of proof and insight. However the question bags to be asked why the only source showing this to be possible is an unofficial third party website that offers no actual information on half the players listed. You said he has an upper body injury from March 16th, where did that info come from, they didnt have it. Maybe it came from a ‘source’ on twitter that posted saying he may have sustained an injury. So while I can now agree there is a little smoke to the fire you guys were talking about, this website really is only a half measure. All I really have to work with is your word and an obscure website with no information, just there word. Maybe he is injured, maybe its with a mild case of dry eye. Once again, cant find any info. And for the record I dont wanna come off as the devils advocate like this, just gets to me when people stand on a soap box preaching facts and evidence but the only verifiable info comes from source that actually cant verify all the points to mentioned.

          • Bucket

            People hate admitting they’re wrong. Always someone else’s fault like a website or some CA commenters on soap boxes or something. Definitely not you being mistaken though.

          • KCasey

            This has less to do with being ‘wrong’ and more to do with people passing off information filled with holes as something concrete and than calling people dumb for not knowing something that’s universal knowledge. Case in point here, DJ gets black listed for not know Dahlen was injured. I try to look into this ‘commonly’ known fact that landed egg on DJs face only to find I couldn’t find any further after looking through the top 4 only truly reliable and credible sources. Luckily MVP was cool enough to link a sight with Dahlens attached to it which definitely helps ones cases, however all I said is that website looks sketchy at best, and they also couldn’t very any of the details laid out, which evidently everyone knows about except DJ and I, oh and the internet. The internet doesnt know the details.

          • DJ_44

            It has been reported Dahlen was injured (I knew about it, and never claimed he was not injured) …. I simply emphasized the fact that, following on the logic and stats in this blog post, it is not relevant to to point production — total point is total points.

            The nature of the injury is in fact in question. Early reports claimed it was a foot injury, not a UBI stated here.

          • KCasey

            Basically these situations feel like the Big Foot argument. If I were to say big foot exists and he was photographed in 1968 by John Smith in Colorado, than provided you with evidence by showing you a picture on a website that had nothing but a picture. I would hope your logic would kick in and you would be less than convinced by this point. You might wanna know this other information I provided. And if my only proof backing up the picture turned out to be my word that I overheard everything else on the radio….would you just say hell ya and believe me. In short, I can now comfortably say that Dahlen was most likely injured and not playing, however the facts surrounding everything else fell flat on its face. On top of this though it was a deep dive to prove it and also had to deal with Zealots that had a swiss cheese argument calling people what ever they wanted in the process. Present case. Present facts. Truth sets people free. Present case followed by murky answers and we end here.

          • KCasey

            Haha. Totally just realized the irony that adds to my point of getting the facts right. I myself, a avid advocate for fact checking and evidence, just mixed them up by assuming DJ didnt know Dahlen was injured. I than just used bad facts to try and reinforce my argument. Apologies DJ, definitely did misread what you were implying.

          • EP40MVP

            KCasey i never said you were wrong i understand what you are saying i was just saying dahlen has been injured and that tsn radio+SJ Barracuda HC sommner did say he was injured but never provided specifics Wasn’t tryna argue with you man

          • KCasey

            Oh no, I am not arguing with you at all, in fact you were the only one that provided anything convincing lol. Just saying I trust my own eyes and ears more than common knowledge is all.

  • Sandpaper

    Jeremy, you seem too be the leader of the drama queens.
    Comets Cory has talked about Lind and Gadjovich showing steady signs of improvement and he did a nice interview with Sautner, who complimented the Utica/Canucks staff.

    • Jeremy Davis

      Cory is certainly an authority on the Comets, especially when it comes to development over the course of a season.

      I however, am looking strictly at objective results, and the results are very bad relative to the peers of these players. I am open to any number of explanations for why this might be the case, but suggesting that things are going fine is just not true.

      • Sandpaper

        I would call it more subjective than objective.
        The Comets were doing fairly decent this season, then all of a sudden, Canucks called up Sautner, Schenn and Briesbois.
        The Comets themselves, always appeared to have 5 or 6 injuries, according to Comets Cory pre-game reports, of which, Juolevi was on that list, since early in the season and McEneny also suffered a few injuries.
        Pretty much 6 of the top 7 defensemen taken away from any organization, will create a situation that occurred in Utica.

      • EP40MVP

        What i dont understand is ppl here pointing it to injuries/callups shouldnt that have created more opportunities for our propsects to play or be given that opportunity instead of consistently toiling in the 3-4th lines? But that never happened so why are you all saying it was all on injuries/callups when half the year they were being scratched in favour for an extra DF or a FW they signed to a PTO due to those “callups/injuries”

        • DJ_44

          You have demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge about how the roster was managed, who was injured, and who was scratched.

          It was prospects that accounted for the majority of injuries. Juolevi, Sautner, Chatfield, Lind, Dahlen, Gadjovich. Briesbois and Sautner called up, McEneny out for the season.

          ..that’s the top 5 defenceman gone for the last 2 months of the season.

          All healthy prospects got tons of ice time from December on.

          But why am I telling you something you already know. You are watched the games.

          Dahlen did toil on the (nominal) 4th line, but that was in San Jose.

          • EP40MVP

            you sir are an actual idiot i stated “callups/injuries” not just “injuries” but “callups”. They didnt get “tons” of ice time either i really don’t know where you keep thinking they all got “tons” of ice time or “opportunities” just last night game+Game before that and game before that lind on the 3rd line, gadjovich on the 4th line jasek on the 4th line again where they been the entire season more or less . i was pointing out how even with all those injuries/callups they never were given first line/second line opportunities and ppl here are commenting how the buildup was never in place to give opportunities due to “injuries/callups”. Like BEFORE lind/gadjovich were injured they still were either scratched/4thliners hell even when dahlen wasnt injured he was 2nd-3rd line as well. But hey it seems you already know that so i dont know who has a “complete lack of knowledge about how the roster was managed”. I know for a fact they scratched these kids for guys like jagger dirk, kyle thomas, jesse graham, tony camarenesi to name a few this season. it doesn’t matter who the heck was injured who the heck was called up the bottom line is none of our “promising” prospects looked anywhere “promising” due to lack of opportunities/direction. Yeah kole lind scored the last 2 GPs but does that make his season any less disappointing/worrisome? no it doesn’t stop trying to spin it as a “promising” outcome. Perhaps they will pan out but everyone said the same thing for Dal Colle, Virtanen, Gaunce, Jensen, Schroeder, Collberg, kieffer bellows, Stanley,Scherbak,Svechnikov but in the end it hasn’t really worked out for any of them because each and everyone of them were either rushed or had their development stalled or couldn’t adapt to the NHL properly and its looking the same way for our young prospects. If you truly think this year doesn’t raise red flags just like how JB doesn’t think it was then idk cuz red flags have already been raised from every single freaking analyst/scout that were asked about our prospects this year in utica.

  • Bud Poile

    Cory Hergott AKA Comet’s Cory was interviewed extensively on the perception of the Comet’s rookie struggles.
    The underlying fact is the Comets introduced eight rookies into their lineup this season.
    Cull and his staff deploy a veteran with a rookie to protect and shield them and the strategy is sound but limits offense:
    “This is the point where we are at. This organization hasn’t had “this many” young prospects all coming in at the same time since I can remember. Our market hasn’t gone through this experience of having to see how kids develop in a system when so many will need extra attention. They started with 8 rookies in Utica this year who all have a “chance” to get NHL minutes at some point…even Tanner MacMaster who is a rookie on an AHL deal who has looked good when he’s been in. That’s a lot of young player’s getting their first look, at any level. Imagine if the Canucks started the year with 8 rookies on the roster?” Hergott

    Re: Palmu
    “When it comes to Palmu, for me…he just couldn’t find the time or space to play his game when he got in. He showed an active stick in all three zones and his effort level in his boards battles was there, but he was getting shoved around more than I would have liked. The think he can still be a player and I can see him coming back next year better prepared for the league.

    I think it’s been about Cull getting the kids in where he can, playing them with at least one of his trusted solders and giving them opportunities when they do get in. Every kid, including Palmu has seen PK time, PP time, or both. He plays kids late in games when he is protecting a lead or trying to get back into a game.” Hergott

    • I am Ted

      Yeah, I’ve been reading Comets Cory too and it seems Utica isn’t all doom and gloom like many have been going on about over the last few days. I guess it’s our off-season and the bloggers need something to generate clicks – this must be it. Anyway, wasn’t Cull connected to the Crunch and the Lightning? They managed to develop players that turned out ok.

      Yes, this was not a good year for Lind or Gadjo. Was it the head coach or an adjustment year? The above stats are concerning but analytics is just one tool to apply out of many. We’ve all seen how analytics is not perfect. It might be cause for concern but all of this recent media heat might be too much.

        • The problem I have with your formula is that TOI is not considered. I find it really hard to trust figures if I’m not sure about much ice time a player gets in a game. I feel confident about players that I know (e.g. I’m sure Horvat gets 1st line minutes but Petersson was getting 13 mins when he started). For a prospect, it’s even harder. The AHL sucks for not publishing TOI, I can get this stuff from European league stat pages (e.g. SHL, Allsvenskan, I think Liiga too).

    • Jeremy Davis

      I don’t necessarily agree with all of Cory’s assessments, but I certainly respect his opinion – nobody puts more time into Comets hockey around here than Cory does.

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is important to remember that it is just an opinion. I’ve given mine as well, but here I’m mostly just looking at simple results – the goal totals are low versus their peers. That should be a concern.

      • Jammer

        Next year will know early on whether they’re developing these guys or not could be a one off injuries etc. but pretty early next year will have a definitive answer.
        If Lind and crew improves this offseason we should see a serious increase in usage just like MacEwen

  • EP40MVP

    You know something is wrong when Jb uses luke schenn as an example of how good utica develops prospects idk about comets cory but im sure none of us can say with a straight face we envisioned lind/gadjovich and the others to come oit like this

    • Fred-65

      As a rule fans tend to rate their prospect a lot higher than warranted. They more cheerleaders than rational observers. This generally leads to disapointment.Lind and Gadjoich were a second-round selection, others were even lower, Jasek &Palmu 6th, I wasn’t expecting a lot but then again we didn’t get a lot. I thought Sautner and McEwen could have spent more time in Vcr but JB seems adamant he want to speend Mr Aqualinni’s money on FA’s …. to little effect. How ever JB be careful this may be part of your resume that might have you out of work. A farm system that fails to thrive. This remark might be part of your death certificate

      #Canucks GM Jim Benning said Comets coaching staff has worked hard with young players: It is a learning experience for (them). It is a process. I think the coaches have done a good job.”

      • EP40MVP

        full on agree with you Fred-65 i really dont know how this year was a “Learning experience” or a “process” i hate to say it but right now we are like the oilers on developing our prospects to be honest

  • Puck Viking

    Sucks see Geekie score so many he was a guy I was hoping we drafted. Good two way guy.

    I wonder how many college/CHL/Euro UFAs wouldnt sign with us because of Cull and his Torts like reputation?

  • james

    Many of the players hand injuries at or just before the season mentioned.Is there a correlation to the states ? Are they behind where they will never improve to make the next step? Is the time of the injuries in their development have anything to do with this ?Bad picks? Have the players being compared to ,had similar missed time? Saying the system is broken is hard to say ,with out looking into at the big picture.

  • Kanucked

    Excellent article.

    Any objective observation would result that there is something wrong with the development in Utica.

    Do the Benning apologists on this board really think that Benning is happy with the development there?

  • BJPeters02

    Canucks have either nailed it with their prospect picks and they’ve not needed Utica or maybe whiffed on a few who are currently in Utica, Kole and Jonah are still young.. give em another year then let’s Cull cull

  • Defenceman Factory

    The few times Davis writes anything for this site it is usually negative and skewed. The Canucks have had very few prospects take a CHL-AHL route. They have also had a weak roster so most of their 1st round picks have not spent time in the AHL. This should not be viewed as a weakness of the farm team. Joulevi was having a pretty good year before injury. Demko’s development looks to have been handled well in Utica. Guadette, Lockwood, and Rathbone could very well have been successful AHL rookie players. These things don’t change the fact several prospects were disappointments the year but do detract for the concerns Davis is raising.

    Davis and several CA writers were big proponents of Palmu, Dahlen and Lind.These writers continue to discount size as a limiting factor and the issues could well be with these players and not the development process. Despite Lind’s tendency to be chippy he is the least physical and the slightest of the three. Many Kelowna Rocket fans, including me, were disappointed the Canucks selected Lind.

    It could have been a mistake to have Dahlen and Palmu in Utica this past season. Playing pro hockey in Europe another year was probably a better option in hind site. The Canucks made a conscience decision to turn Gads and Lind pro this year. The decision isn’t made based on whether these players will be impactful pro rookies. It was made based on where these players will develop better. Neither Gads nor Lind had anything left to learn in Junior and dominating kids 2 or 3 years younger can lead to bad habits. They are both smart players who needed to get bigger, faster and learn the pro game.

    • DJ_44

      Despite Lind’s tendency to be chippy he is the least physical and the slightest of the three. Many Kelowna Rocket fans, including me, were disappointed the Canucks selected Lind.

      I recall DF stating this numerous time in comment. This chippy — boarding on pouty — attitude was evident at the start of the season. He has tempered this over that later half of the season in my opinion. It definitely hampers his game, especially at the pro level. As stated, I think his development has progressed very well this season, as he learned and adapted to the pro game. He is a smart player, but adapting his skills to a pro game with men is a process. Playing another year in junior would have been a waste. I also agree this year was necessary in a long term path for his development as a solid NHLer.

  • OMAR49

    Green has a philosophy that all players, including your stars, must be able to play a 200 foot game. Players, whose defensive game is lacking, even if you have offensive skills such as Goldobin, end up sitting on the bench or in the press box until they learn. I suspect the same policy is in effect in Utica. The new players must demonstrate to the coach that they can defend in their own zone before they are given a chance to play. In other words, show that you can be a good 4th or 3rd liner and defend well. Once you have mastered that skill you will be moved up to the 2nd or 1st lines and given some PP time. Rumours are, that Dahlin did not buy into this philosophy and is one of the reasons the Canucks accommodated his request for a trade. For players like Lind and Gadjovich the move from Junior to the AHL can be a big jump and it takes time to master the defensive part of the game. This philosophy makes sense to me as it makes no sense to bring up some player who has scored 20 goals in the AHL and then sit him on the bench because he can’t defend.
    If this philosophy is in place, and I suspect it is, then players like Lind and Gadjovich’s development should not be determined solely on the basis of goals but on their overall game, which is more difficult to determine. This is their first year so I’m not that concerned with their development. If they are still playing on the 3rd and 4th lines next year and only scoring 5-10 goals then that is the time to be concerned.

    • Kanucked

      There isn’t a bigger fallacy than the 200 ft game. Does Jay Beagle play a 200ft game? Does 3 goals count as a good player in the offensive zone? How about Sutter’s 2 assists?

      200ft players are rare. Maybe it’s better to have players who can score, and teach them not to be a liability defensively.

      • North Van Halen

        No the fallacy is people who don’t get the 200 foot game. The dream is to get 12 Connor McDavids & Sid Crosby’s playing the right way – in other words 12 extremely talented players all playing the right way (think Canadian Olympic team – unbeatable). Since salary cap/talent availability makes that impossible the object is to get the best 12 players you can pulling in the same direction. That’s how you win a cup. 12 forwards all playing the same way with the same goal. Not 11, not 10. 12.
        Jay Beagle plays the game right, doesn’t cheat the details. Washington won a cup with him on the 4th line. Would they have on with Goldy cheating the details on the 4th line. No chance. Trotz spent 2 years breaking down Ovie to get him to play a 200 foot game. Alex Ovechkin. Yet many think Goldobin should play ahed of Beagle because he skates pretty. I know Botchford might like that idea but run that theory by Babcock or Trotz or Quenville or Hitchcock or Torts or well anyone seriously trying to win a cup.
        No sir the fallacy is thinking you can let guys cheat and have long term success not the other way around.

        • Kanucked

          Sorry I don’t understand your post. Are you saying that Ovie and Beagle play the same way?

          I agree that players don’t have to be defensive liabilities. I’m also not arguing that there isn’t a role for defensive players. I’m saying that most players aren’t 200 ft players.

          Therefore, if Lind or any other prospect can score, they should be put in positions to score. They should also teach them defensive responsibility, but they may never be 200ft players.

          • North Van Halen

            What I’m saying is you don’t allow guys to cheat until they learn. If your reward for crappy defensive is more offensive opportunity how would you learn. And again curious who’s allowed to cheat and who isn’t? Only your top 3, top 6? Anyone that sees an opportunity? Only new guys until they learn? Goldy for these games but not these games? Will Leivo be confused or angry because sometimes Goldy can cheat but he can’t? Or will he start to cheat too because Goldy keeps getting rewarded with offensive minutes despite cheating? That’s quite a slippery slope you’re coaching, can’t imagine why more coaches don’t try it?

            3 years ago Trotz took a full season taking away Ovechkin’s ice time and opportunity demanding he learn to play both ways. The thought you can give offensive players opportunity and allow them to cheat until they learn doesn’t work for too many players (I’m putting up points, what’s wrong). If you’re long term goal is a cup, then rewarding bad defensive play with more offensive opportunity is a recipe for disaster

          • North Van Halen

            So instead of a ‘200 foot game’, think of it as playing the right way and in order to eventually win a cup everyone has to do it, not just those with a defensive game.

      • bobdaley44

        Ya Beagle does have a 200ft game as does Sutter. A 200 ft game would mean I don’t get beat in my own end, forecheck with authority and make smart positional decisions. I’d rather play a team of Goldobins than a team of Sutter’s or Beagles. There is no 200 ft fallacy. Don’t play hard both ways you don’t play. That was one of the dumbest comments I’ve read on this site.

    • DJ_44

      The new players must demonstrate to the coach that they can defend in their own zone before they are given a chance to play. In other words, show that you can be a good 4th or 3rd liner and defend well. Once you have mastered that skill you will be moved up to the 2nd or 1st lines and given some PP time. Rumours are, that Dahlin did not buy into this philosophy and is one of the reasons the Canucks accommodated his request for a trade.

      “rumors”. Nice Omar. Apparently your journalistic career is based on rumors (unsubstantiated at that). Look at what was actually occurring: Dahlen was top-6 and always on PP1. That fact alone dismisses your “rumors”, and that narrative.

      Green has a philosophy that all players, including your stars, must be able to play a 200 foot game. Players, whose defensive game is lacking, even if you have offensive skills such as Goldobin, end up sitting on the bench or in the press box until they learn.

      How stupid a take is this? It is not the 200ft game — it is the fact Goldobin did not have the effort or compete for the puck when it was not on his stick — that and just brutal hockey IQ with respect to give-aways around the offensive blue-line.

      Making the “200ft” game excuse, while convenient for the narrative, ignores the facts. Goldobin needs to give more effort every shift. He could get by when he produced in lower leagues (in fact he was given responsibilities all over the ice in Utica last year) …. but he is not that good at the NHL level. He scored fewer goals than whipping boys Granlund, Motte, and Eriksson while doing nothing else.

  • Fred-65

    The best farm system the Canucks have is the NCAA. Think of names like Stecher, Boeser, Gaudette, Demko, Hutton, Tanev, Teves, Madden and Rafferty. Demko did spend some good time in Utica when he turn 21 (?) but goaltenders come under the tutelage of seperate coaching so they can’t be lumped in with skaters. All spent more time in the NCAA than in Utica

  • ClassOF2011

    “Trent and Ryan are doing an excellent job. Luke Schenn was down here for a while and he came up and at the end of the year was good for us.” – Benning

    LOL Schenn has played 746 Games in the NHL ffs!!!!!! Unbelievable.

    Yappers, the last decent team in Utica was the one Mike Gillis assembled who won the Western Conf and reached the Calder Cup FINAL.

    Like the parent club, it’s been a trainwreck ever since – the Comets prospect pool is now as shallow as the gene pool most regulars here are drowning in…

  • Captain Video

    The fact that all of Lind, Gadjo, Dahlen and the Palmu flamed out under Cull, looks bad on Cull. As does the fact that his reliance on veterans over prospects failed too, as Utica missed the playoffs. It also speaks poorly of Benning that this is the first time he has gone to Utica this year, despite the warning signs.

  • North Van Halen

    This is one of those things where only time can give us the answer. Dahlen & Palmu would raise less eyebrows if Lind or Gadjovich had thrived. Since none of the above had a successful season there is definitely reason to wonder what happened.
    That said, as usual, there are reasons to believe this is much ado about nothing again as well. As mentioned, Juolevi was thriving and MacEwen hasn’t exceeded all expectation. Another thing thats glossed over is the affect the decimation of the Comets d core has on the end of the season. Gadjovich & Lind were both injured/sheltered early, in the second half when more opportunity was available, almost the entire top 6 of the defence was lost to injuries/call ups. Predictably scoring dried up and a massive slide ensued. In other words, when Lind & Gadjovich had finally been given the opportunity to succeed, the supporting cast wasn’t there to help them excel (defencemen that can’t move the puck quickly kill offensive opportunity – 1 extra second in decision making helps defence get set and forwards to slow).
    For those that don’t like Benning, it’s easy to pile on and in this case they may be right but only another year or two and the long term results will tell give us the real answer.

  • Locust

    But, but, but….. you mean not every drafted player turns into a 40 goal all star in the NHL? WTF?
    People mature and grow their skill set at different times. Some can do it at 19, some at 24. For you fancy stats people, I’ll save you breaking out your Texas Instruments CK-4200m, that is five years difference.
    I always thought Gadjovich had a better shot at the NHL. I thought Lind played a too soft perimeter game and skated twice as fast on offence than he did on defence. In junior, he avoided playing hard against big tough defenders in front of the net and in the corners. He needs some time, still just a 10% chance to be an NHLer.
    Gadjovich with some seasoning I’d say is a 15% chance.

  • Foximus

    Interesting points on both sides here in the comments section. As the Canucks are still developing I’m willing to see how next season goes for Lind and Gadjovich as well as Palmu etc. If these guys all learned in their rookie season and come on strong next season we will be congratulating Cull for proper development. If not he can be seriously questioned. Let’s watch this all play out a little longer before condemning the entire development program in Utica.

  • Hockey Bunker

    Utica seems to be intent on playing players in the role they will have in the NHL. So Lind and Gad will be bottom sixers so they play there in Utica. Stupid. Give them top minutes but work on deficiencies so you build a well rounded player who will contribute out of the bottom six in the NHL. Giving top minutes to Boucher Kero or Gaunce will never make the Canucks better.

      • Locust

        Only something like 45% of 2nd rounders are bottom six or above. More than half never play more that a handful of NHL games. That’s why it irritates me for those here that blabber on about tearing the team apart, trading anything of value for “picks”. It is a crapshoot after the first round.

  • Dan the Fan

    It starts with the Canucks not signing WAY too many depth players, making it certain that guys like Gaunce and Gaudette would end up in Utica to start the season. Coaches are going to use the players they’re given, so when they have veteran options, they’re going to play them. This year, the team started with 3 NHL-calibre players more than they needed, fortunately they were able to loan Gagner so he didn’t take a Utica spot from a young player. If Gaunce and Gaudette started the year with the Canucks, they wouldn’t have been any worse, and Palmu/Jasik/Dahlen/Gadvovich/Lind would have gotten many more games in.

    • DJ_44

      This is incorrect. To point out the obvious, Gaunce and Gaudette are centers. All players listed are wingers.

      Palmu, a 6th rd pick, was #6 on the LW depth chart behind Boucher, Dahlen, Carcone, Archibald and Gadjovich.

      A reason for the lower point totals for the prospects was the fact tha quality centers in utica were in shorter supply. Gaudette spending more time with the comets would have helped Dahlen, Jasek, and Lind.

  • Burnabybob

    Aside from Juolevi’s injury, the development of Lind, Goldobin, Dahlen and Gadjovich has been the most disappointing thing this year for the Canucks. It seemed a reasonable bet that one at least would develop into a solid middle six forward. It really complicates things for Benning, who has to fix the defense AND add more scoring depth.

  • Kanuckhotep

    No doubt there is some consternation associated with the development of Lind and Gadjovich, but they are still incredibly young players. What makes their particular plights so kay-nob is the ridiculous size of the AHL rosters. What do they have, over 30 guys? The NHL isn’t like this nor is junior and probably not the NCAA either. Seems cumbersome and unmanageable to me. If they’d’ve just let these young prospects play the results more than likely would have been far better. The “A” is no cakewalk and even harder to figure out.

  • Freud

    The Trump supporters are reacting the same way as always.

    News that doesn’t reflect well on the President? Fake news! But, but, the economy. He has black friends!

  • Ken Priestlay Fan

    Clearly things in Utica aren’t a bed of roses, but am I the only person who kind of expected Lind and Gadjovich to struggle this year? Both were unlikely to learn anything more in junior, but still need development. So they find themselves in Utica, not quite ready for the AHL but having outgrown the CHL. Next season is the test for them

    PS Jasek had a good season as far as I’m concerned