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BanTSN


Here's another look at the upcoming NHL draft, complete with analysis on team needs, who the risers are, the fallers, and those players we should avoid, with a focus on the top prospects available, of course.

Since Benning indicated we're going to likely be addressing team needs in this draft due to our position in it, here's a look at what the team needs actually are:

Canucks Team Needs:

We all know about our center depth by now. Cassels, Horvat, McCann and I suppose Gaunce and Labate for some extra meat. We are set with #2 2-way centers, for sure, and what's better, we started getting rid of the #2 one-dimensional guys like Schroeder. This will only translate to winning in the future. However, the clear #1 center, in particular a big workhorse like Getzlaf, is not there. Horvat has more of a Bergeron upside. Unless we are able to select a legit #1 center, then we don't need to burn a 1st rounder for another center.

We are also aware of the depth we have in goaltending I think, and how we're able to sign decent goaltending prospects without burning a draft pick. I probably would have passed on Demko last draft in favour of selecting Lemieux, but what's done is done. I wouldn't worry about goaltending for the time being.

As for right-shooting RWers, we have just selected Jake Virtanen, future all-star power forward. (Thanks Jim), and we still have Kassian available and Grenier is apparently knocking on the door. Jensen is also a RW, but a left-shooting one and his future with the team remains unclear. We could perhaps use more right-shooting natural RWers, but the amount of centermen available to us makes the need not all that important. Cassels can play there. Linden Vey. As well as Jordan Subban.

Left-shooting LWers include Bearcheese, Shinkaruk, Jensen, if he'd suck it up, Gaunce can play there, Kenins, and Ben Hutton, who's a converted LW turned defenseman. The depth is fine for now, but doesn't include any Luc Robitaille's.

On defense we have Clendening, Corrado, Sbisa, Tanev, Weber, Stanton, Pedan, Tryramkin, Subban and Hutton. The most we can expect out of these guys is a #4 defenseman on a contending team. This is what Tanev is. Too limited offensively to be a top pmd. Too slight to be shutdown. He's a bit of a tweener guy, or a defensive #4 guy. Corrado is a Tanev clone. Same build, same style, same upside. Clendening tops out as an offensive #4 guy imho. He's skilled, but not skilled enough to carry and offense and not defensively adept enough for a top-pairing role either. Sbisa is a left-shooting version of Bieksa with less physical attributes and offense. Sbisa peaks out as a #5 on a contender. We've already seen the best of Weber, who's a bit of a one-trick pony on the power play and was instantly figured out by Calgary in the playoffs. He's a #5. Stanton appears to have peaked as well as a #6 or #7 guy. Pedan is a goon. Tryramkin is a big, big dude, but is still aways away from NHL starts, and an eternity from reaching his potential, the mythical Zdeno Chara, if that is to happen. Subban and Hutton are both offense-only wildcards and it should be interesting to see what happens with them here, but there are big holes in the games of both players. This defense is screaming: HELP!


Derp? The team needs defense, clearly, and Benning realizes this and has already acted by acquiring Clendening with some offensive upside, and at least securing a physical player for awhile with the Sbisa contract. Also, he sees the need for scoring from the backend by activating Subban and Hutton. But all these moves involving non-bluechippers are relative bandaids. The REAL move he attempted was trading up for last year's 1st overall to select Ekblad. Ekblad is the difference-maker that a winning team needs and if Benning wants to build up a solid legacy here, he'll need to figure out how to pull it off. The urgency to do so, as defensemen take longer to develop, is growing by the year and that's why he's figuring out where Hutton and Subban can progress right away. If he doesn't address the defense, then his upcoming core group of centers and wingers will be wasted on a team with little pushback in their own zone. He'll have to scramble to make some more trades, and that will burn these forward prospects that we need. And he'll have to sign UFA's, and a difference-making one inside his prime is rarely available.



So about the 2015 draft, with a focus on defense:

Luckily for us, this draft year features a few potential difference-making defensemen. That doesn't happen every draft year. The Canucks might want to take advantage of that, if they can land one at 23rd overall. That's fairly possible.

Noah Hanifin is a can't-miss stud #1D.
Zack Werenski is NHL ready and will contribute right away. Potential top-pairing.
Rasmus Andersson is also NHL ready. He appears to be in our reach. He's a two-way defenseman, RHD power play quarterback with a great shot.
Ivan Provorov is ranked a bit too high imho, but he is NHL ready. Potential top pairing.
Ryan Pilon is a year behind Provorov in readiness perhaps, and has less offensive upside, but his 2-way potential is great. Potential top pairing like Girardi.
Oliver Kylington is a year behind Pilon, but has more offensive potential. He still needs to gain strength, but his speed is awesome. I don't believe that he's fallen as far as rankings indicate and some team will pick him up early, but he won't be the next OEL. Potential top pairing like Yandle.
Jeremy Roy is like Kylington, but with a far higher bust potential. He'll likely need some years of AHL time to round out his game. Potential top-pairing like Letang, Green.
Juulsen is a few years away, but projects a top-4 2-way defenseman down the road. Seems more like a #3, but long-shot top-pairing?

Risers:

Vince Dunn had a HUGE 2nd half and playoffs. A crazy 31pts in 24gp down the stretch. He absolutely caught fire and had scouts saying Keith! Keith! That's what has put him on the 1st round radar as of late. He's light and needs to build strength of course. Could be as good as Kylington or better in some years. But is he strictly an offensive defenseman? At least he has a somewhat workable frame, unlike Jordan Subban. Potential top-pairing like Fowler.

Dermott also had a great playoffs and 2nd half in Erie. He gained a lot of strength as the season wore on. As good as Pilon or better. Potential top-pairing like Girardi.

Zboril was hurt. But he finished his season at a ppg pace over eleven games. Q or not, that's decent. He'll need to build some strength though, and stay healthy. A lot of people are on the Zboril train now, and i'm saying he's the best Q D in this draft, but the best Q D 1st rounder recently was Kulikov, another import. If you're really impressed with Kulikov, okay then. Seems like a #3,

Stephen Derocher, Erie Otters, put on some weight and had a great playoffs. NHL GM's will notice. He's a future 2-way defenseman. Available later on.

Caleb Jones is down there in his team's lineup, but he should be a riser just because of his brother Seth alone. Available later on.


Fallers:

Jeremy Roy. Got hurt. Struggled to maintain 1st round status. I felt he looked out of sorts in the playoffs, constantly getting walked, and him and Barzal absolutely needed a good showing in the U18 to try to salvage their seasons. They delivered some points against the weaker teams in that tournament. Some other team will pick them up too early. Let them. If they fall to us, then let them fall some more.

Matt Spencer. Slowed WAY down late. Too bad.

Chabot. Also slowed down late. Still ranked high though.

Carlo. Hey, he's tall! He'll never be known for his offense, but what he had shown early on seemed to slow to a crawl late.


These guys aren't falling far, but they're not rising either. They or similar types should be available later on.

Cernak is strictly a defensive defenseman. Could be available late, but he has NHL size.

Gabriel Carlsson is the Swedish Carlo.

Jacob Larsson is the Swedish Cernak.


But at what point do you select a forward instead?:

That's the real question, isn't it? One that only Benning can answer though. If it were up to me, I'd take a chance on undersized Dunn with his amazing 2nd half, perhaps Kylington with his great speed, Andersson with his great shot and two-way ability, take a long look at Dermott and even Zboril (sigh...) before taking a look at forwards in our range or the potential faller forwards.

As for trading up for a defenseman, the only one worth it is Hanifin, and that will cost us Horvat, Virtanen, or both. Too costly, but like last year, there will likely be talk about it.

People need to remember that yes, we have some prospects now, but we're hardly elite in this regard, and in a big trade scenario we're still not dealing from a position of strength. Even with the abundance of centers, we're still going to need them all going forward due to the spots on the wing to fill.

Do we want another 2nd line forward? Or maybe a one-dimensional sniper that may work out? Sure, but maybe in later rounds they're are available. Where was Johnny Hockey selected? Tyler Johnson?

The need for defense could have been alleviated by selecting Shea Theodore instead of Hunter Shinkaruk in the 2013 draft, for example, especially after we just drafted Horvat earlier in the round, but now the need grows even more dire.


I have a feeling that a bluechipper defenseman will be available to us in this draft. We should probably select one, considering team needs, and the needs for a winning team going forward.

Thank you.

BanTSN

Since the Canucks are very likely looking at drafting a defenseman in the 1st round of 2015 NHL entry draft, I figured it was appropiate to look at some past trends of drafts so we can learn which types of prospects succeed and which fail.

Here's a look at trends from some past 1st round defense draft choices. I chose years 2007-2009 as a sample size because by now their career paths are established. (Sorry, no pretty charts) (year, junior league, drafted at, size, draft year production, projection, current status):

2007

Thomas Hickey WHL: 4th overall (LA went well off board), 5'-11" 180lbs, 68gp 9g 41a 50pts.

- Production good, speed good, size and shot not good. Projected as a power play quarterback. Busted.

Karl Alzner WHL: 5th overall, 6'-2" 210lbs, 63gp 8g 39a 47pts.

- Production good, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as a shutdown defenseman. Success.

Keaton Ellerby WHL: 10th overall, 6'-4" 190lbs, 69gp 2g 23a 25pts 120pim.

- Production poor, speed okay, size okay (lanky), shot poor. Projected as tough top-4 defenseman. Busted.

Ryan McDonagh USHS: 12th overall, 6-1" 200lbs, 23gp 10g 23a 33pts.

- Production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as two-way defenseman. Success.

Kevin Shattenkirk USDP: 14th overall, 5'-11" 195lbs, 57gp 13g 27a 40pts.

- Production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as offensive defenseman. Success.

Alex Plante WHL: 15th overall, 6'-3" 210lbs, 58gp 8g 30a 38pts 81pims.

- Production okay, speed poor, size good, shot okay. Projected as tough top-4 defenseman. Busted.

Ian Cole USDP: 18th overall, 6'-1" 200lbs, 58gp 8g 18a 26pts

- Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as two-way defenseman. Is now 3rd pairing defenseman on a deep team.

Jonathon Blum WHL: 23rd overall, 6'-1" 180lbs, 72gp 8g 43pts 51pts

- Production good, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projected as power play quarterback. Busted.

Brendan Smith OPJHL: 27th overall, 6'-2" 190lbs, 39gp 12g 24a 36pts

- Production good, size good, shot good. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Offense not realized, but NHL career is there.

Nick Petrecki USHL: 28th overall, 6'-3" 220lbs, 54gp 11g 14a 25pts 177pims.

- Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as tough defenseman. Busted.

Nick Ross WHL: 30th overall, 6'-1" 190lbs, 70gp 7g 24a 31pts 87pims.

- Production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot poor. Projected as long-term tough defenseman. Busted.

2008

Drew Doughty OHL: 2nd overall, 6'-1" 200lbs, 58gp 13g 37a 50pts.

- Production excellent, playoff production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as top-pairing 2-way defenseman. Success.

Zach Bogosian OHL: 3rd overall, 6'-3" 190lbs, 61gp 11g 60a 61pts.

- Production excellent, playoff production poor, speed okay, size okay (lanky), shot okay. Projected as top-pairing defenseman. Success.

Alex Pietrangelo OHL: 4th overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 60gp 13g 40a 53pts.

-Production excellent, playoff production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as top-pairing defenseman. Success.

Luke Schenn WHL: 5th overall, 6'-2" 210lbs, 57gp 7g 21a 28pts 100pims.

- Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as tough top-4 defenseman. NHL career disappointing.

Tyler Myers WHL: 12th overall, 6'-8" 200lbs, 65gp 6g 13a 19pts 97pims.

- Production poor, speed okay, size okay (really lanky), shot okay. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing.

Colten Teubert WHL: 13th overall, 6'-4" 190lbs, 66gp 7g 16a 23pts 135pims.

- Production poor, speed poor, size okay (lanky), shot okay. Projected as tough defenseman. Bust.

Erik Karlsson SEL: 15th overall, 6'-0" 175lbs, 38gp 13g 24a 37pts

- Production excellent, playoff production poor, tournament production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot excellent. Projected as offensive defenseman. Success.

Jake Gardiner USHS: 17th overall, 6'-2" 180lbs, 36gp 24g 34a 58pts

- Production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projected as offensive defenseman. Success.

Luca Sbisa WHL: 19th overall, 6'-2" 185lbs, 62gp 6g 27a 33pts 63pims.

-Production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing.

Michael Del Zotto OHL: 24th overall, 6'-0" 180lbs, 64gp 16g 47a 63pts

- Production excellent, playoff production poor, speed okay, size poor, shot good. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing.

Tyler Cuma OHL: 23rd overall, 6'-2" 180lbs, 59gp 4g 28a 32pts 69pims.

- Production okay, speed okay, size poor, shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Bust.

John Carlson USHS: 27th overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 59gp 12g 31a 43pts.

- Production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as two-way defenseman. Success.

2009

Victor Hedman SEL: 2nd overall, 6'-6" 220lbs, 43gp 7g 14a 21pts.

- Production good, speed good, size excellent, shot good. Projected as #1 defenseman. Success.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson SEL: 6th overall, 6'-2" 190lbs, 39gp 3g 14a 17pts.

- Production good, speed good, size okay, shot good. Projected as #1 defenseman. Success.

Jared Cowen WHL: 9th overall, 6'-5" 220lbs, 48gp 7g 14a 21pts

- Production okay, speed okay, size excellent, shot okay. Projected as a defensive defenseman. Success.

Ryan Ellis OHL: 11th overall, 5'-10" 170lbs, 57gp 22g 67a 89pts.

- Production excellent, speed okay, size poor, shot okay. Projected as long-term power play quarterback. NHL career disappointing.

Calvin De Haan OHL: 12th overall, 6'-1" 180lbs, 68gp 8g 55a 63pts.

- Production excellent, speed okay, size poor, shot okay. Projected as long-term power play quarterback. NHL career disappointing.

Dmitri Kulikov QMJHL: 14th overall, 6'-1" 190lbs, 57gp 12g 50a 62pts

- Production good, speed good, size okay, shot okay. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career okay.

Nick Leddy USHS: 16th overall, 5'-11" 180lbs, 55gp 21g 44a 65pts

- Production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. NHL career okay.

David Rundblad SEL: 17th overall, 6'-1" 180lbs, 45gp 0g 10a 10pts

- Production okay, speed okay, size poor, shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Bust.

John Moore USHL: 21st overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 57gp 14g 25a 39pts

- Production okay, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as long-term 2-way defenseman.

NHL career okay as defensive defenseman.

Tim Erixon SEL: 23rd overall, 6'-3" 190lbs, 45gp 2g 5a 7pts

- Production poor, speed okay, size okay (lanky), shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Bust.

Dylan Olsen AJHL: 28th overall, 6'-2" 210lbs, 53gp 10g 19a 29pts 123pims

- Production okay, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as long-term tough defenseman. NHL career okay as 3rd pair type.

Simon Despres QMJHL: 30th overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 66gp 2g 30a 32pts 74pims

- Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing. Okay now as reinvented tough defenseman.

So what can we learn here?

First off, PRODUCTION is the name of the game. If a defenseman cannot produce significant numbers as a drafted prospect, then his NHL upside is limited. You can see time and time again above that the poor production players go onto disappointing NHL careers. They were drafted for their size likely, but if that size doesn't come with offensive skill, then the bust potential is high.

Not to discredit the classic defensive defensemen, but ones of equal overall ability are often found in later rounds. So it makes little sense to burn a good 1st round draftpick on one. Especially if he has a high amount of pims. He may turn out to be a goon, not a top-4 type.

Secondly, after production, SIZE is of vital importance for defensemen. You want at least 190lbs at 17rs old, preferably 200lbs. If you're not getting that, then you're taking a risk. The smaller the defenseman, the bigger the risk. Without size, they run the chance of being destroyed by opposing forwards night after night. If they are undersized, such as Karlsson was, then you had better make sure their offensive production is elite and their defensive ability is above 'liability' level. Karlsson isn't a defensive defenseman by any stretch, but his offensive output more than makes up for it. That's why he was a better choice than bigger guys Colten Teubert or Luke Schenn, who could only dream of Karlsson's offensive ability.

If an undersized prospect has only an average-to-good offensive ability, then be prepared for a high chance of busting. Enter Thomas Hickey. I'm not sure what LA saw in that prospect, but he was clearly undersized and not good enough with the puck to justify an off-the-board 4th overall pick. However, 2007 wasn't anywhere close to 2008 in defensive depth. They made up for the Hickey pick by selecting Drew Doughty the year after.

Note about expected prospect growth: Considering defensemen being drafted in the 1st round are pretty much physically developed already, and are capable of growing 10lbs on average without losing significant skating ability, please lose the notion that plainly undersized defenseman can somehow grow into fully developed NHL players. Jordan Subban for example, is 5'-9" 185lbs. This will be his max height and weight, and that is clearly undersized. While his draft-year production was good, shot was good, speed okay, this ability doesn't overcome his lack of ability without the puck. He projects to be a long-term offensive defenseman or power play quarterback, but will very likely bust, as we've seen various slightly larger 1st rounders noted above go through the same career path. As a 4th rounder like Subban though, who cares. But I think it needs to be understood that getting excited about this prospect as anything but a project is a misplacement of excitement. Thank you.

Third, when looking at offensive output, consider the junior league they're doing it in.

The OHL is considered the 'can't miss' league when it comes to offensive transferability. When a solidly-built defenseman does very well offensively there, chances are he will go on to a decent NHL career. (Hamilton, Fowler)

The WHL is more known for the tough shutdown-type overall, but can turn out HOFers like Scott Niedermayer as well.

The USDP will turn up some gems, as seen here: http://forum.canucks.com/topic/366175-proposal-start-taking-a-look-at-the-us-national-development-team-at-the-draft-more/ And they're getting better by the year.

The SEL will have it's good and not-so-good years, but there have been some obvious greats to be had. The question is largely about transferability. Most solid-built defensemen can do it easily. Undersized ones have a tougher go, as expected.

The QMJHL has been a fairly disappointing junior league when it comes to developing defensemen, and hasn't turned out many top-notch 1st rounders in recent years. It's improving by the year though, but still there is this factor that the style of play in the Q basically breeds bad defensive habits and promotes wide-open offense that doesn't transfer well to the NHL. You shouldn't ignore the league entirely, of course, but just perhaps select them in later rounds. Such as the Penguins did with 3rd rounder Kris Letang, who to this day is still a defensive wildcard, but has a great offensive ability.

The KHL likes to keep their own prospects around as much as possible. This will add significant risk to any draft pick selected from that league. If you're going there, you better make sure he's an absolute NHLer. For example, our own Kirill Koltzov was an undersized offensive defenseman who had a cannon of shot, but not much else in terms of NHL-level skill. There was a low probability that he'd make it in the NHL and probably was not worth a 2nd round selection. At least not compared to... Duncan Keith!!! For the defensemen below, I'm ignoring the KHL risk and assuming some guys will come over. This is hardly a guarantee.

Slovak, Czech, Finn leagues present a few sturdy prospects that are hard to miss as long as you're looking. A lot make the jump to better SHL or NA leagues, making it easier for modern scouts to keep track of them.

So without further ado, I present to you the top 2015 draft prospects for consideration, using the trends, information and notes from above. Keep in mind that this is the mid-term. Rankings can change down the stretch and especially after the playoffs.

2015 Defenseman Draft Prosects

Noah Hanifin Boston College: 6'-2" 205lbs, 23gp 3g 11a 14pts

- production excellent (being at college level already is almost unheard of), speed excellent, size good, shot good. Projects as #1 defenseman.

Zach Werenski Univ. of Michigan: 6'-2" 214lbs, 18gp 3g 12a 15pts

- production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as two-way defenseman.

Rasmus Andersson OHL: 6'-0" 209lbs, 42gp 8g 32a 40pts

- production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as two-way defenseman.

Ivan Provorov WHL: 6'-0" 201lbs, 40gp 11g 30a 41pts

- production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as offensive defenseman.

Ryan Pilon WHL: 6'-2" 212lbs, 42gp 7g 29a 36pts

- production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as two-way defenseman.

Oliver Kylington: 6'-0" 174lbs, 17gp 2g 3a 5pts

- production okay, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Jeremy Roy QMJHL: 6'-0" 183lbs, 40gp 5g 34a 39pts

- production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as offensive defenseman.

Yegor Rykov MHL: 6'-2" 192lbs, 26gp, 5g 7a 12pts

- production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Noah Juulsen WHL: 6'-1" 181lbs 44gp 5g 27a 32pts

- production good, speed good, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Matt Spencer OHL: 6'-2" 194lbs, 41gp 5g 18a 23pts

- production okay, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Nicolas Meloche QMJHL: 6'-2" 198lbs, 44gp 10g 24a 34pts 99pims

- production good, speed okay, size good, shot good. Projects to be long-term two-way defenseman, or tough defenseman.

Vladislav Gavrikov KHL: 6'-2" 205lbs, 7gp 0g 1a 1pt

- production poor, speed good, size good, shot okay. Projects to be long-term defensive defenseman.

Mitchell Vande Sompel OHL: 5'-10" 181lbs, 36gp 6g 34a 40pts

- production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Jakub Zboril QMJHL: 6'-2" 185lbs, 33gp 8g 14a 22pts

- production good, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Thomas Chabot QMJHL: 6'-2" 179lbs, 44gp 8g 19a 27pts

- production okay, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Brandon Carlo WHL: 6'-5" 185lbs, 41gp 3g 17a 20pts

- production poor, speed good, size okay (really lanky), shot poor. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman.

Erik Cernak Slovakia: 6'-3" 203lbs, 29gp 4g 2a 6pts

-production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman.

Gabriel Carlsson SuperElit: 6'-4" 183lbs 27gp 0g 4a 4pts

- production poor, speed okay, size okay (really lanky), shot poor. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman.

Jacob Larsson SHL: 6'-2" 181lbs, 8gp 0g 1a 1pt

- production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot poor, Projects as long-term defensive defenseman.

Sebastian Aho SHL: 5'-10" 174lbs, 29gp 0g 4a 4pts

- production poor, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Stephen Desrocher OHL: 6'-3" 187lbs, 43gp 8g 12a 20pts

- production okay, speed okay, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Caleb Jones USDP: 6'-0" 194lbs, 34gp 2g 9a 11pts

- production okay, speed okay, size good, shot poor. Projects as defensive defenseman.

Jacob Olson USHS: 6'-3" 209lbs, 12gp 6g 10a 16pts 20pims

- production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Ethan Bear WHL: 6'-0" 203lbs, 41gp 9g 18a 27pts

- production good, speed okay, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Dennis Gilbert USHL: 6'-2" 194lbs, 33gp 3g 14a 17pts 52pims

- production good, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way or defensive defenseman.

Keoni Texeira WHL: 6'-0" 194lbs, 46gp 4g 14a 18pts

- production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Jack Sadek USHS: 6'-3" 185lbs, 25gp 4g 9a 13pts (last season stats, this season na)

- production okay, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Travis Dermott OHL: 5'-11" 181lbs, 37gp 5g 24a 29pts

- production good, speed good, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

John Marino USPHL: 6'-2" 181lbs, 34gp 4g 18a 22pts

- production good, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Lucas Carlsson SEL: 6'-0" 183lbs, 15gp 0g 1a

- production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman.

Gustav Bouramman OHL: 6'-0" 176lbs, 45gp 5g 25a 30pts

- production good, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Vince Dunn OHL: 6'-0" 185lbs: 44gp 7g 18a 25pts

- production okay, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Casey Fitzgerald USDP: 5'-11" 185lbs, 27gp 4g 9a 13pts 45pims

- production poor, speed okay, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Alexandre Carrier QMJHL: 5'-11" 181lbs, 47gp 6g 32a 38pts

- production good, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Jesper Lindgren SHL: 6'-0" 161lbs, 4gp 0g 1a 1pt

- production okay, speed good, size very poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Joseph Cecconi USHL: 6'-2" 205lbs, 35gp 2g 8a 10pts.

- production poor, speed okay, size good, shot poor. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman.

Guillame Brisebois QMJHL: 6'-2" 172lbs, 45gp 3g 18a 21pts

- production poor, speed good, size poor, shot poor. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Parker Wotherspoon WHL: 6'-0" 170lbs, 46gp 8g 17a 25pts

- production poor, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman.

Andrew Nielsen WHL: 6'-3" 209lbs, 34gp 4g 12a 16pts 76pims

- production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as tough defenseman.

*by long-term defenseman, I mean it's going to take years for his upside to come to fruition, if it happens.

BanTSN

How to Build a Good Hockey Team

This isn't about 'Get Crosby and all the great hockey players here. What's the problem?' This is more about what types of players to have, the minutes they should be able to play, and the roles they should be able to play. Also addresses basic concepts like taking advantage of low qualcomp opportunities, etc.

1. Bigger is Better.

No, you don't need a team full of behemoths, but you have to consider that in the playoffs it gets a lot harder to get into the prime scoring areas. Bigger players are more able to do so. For those who want to make a point like Patrick Kane does it, then the response is two-fold: Dustin Byfuglien and Byron Bickell. Those really big players were not used all that much by the Hawks in their recent cup seasons until deeper into the playoffs when Kane and Toews found it harder to get to the net. The big guy simply creates more space.

We've seen this during the Bertuzzi/Naslund heydey. Big Bert's presense in front of the net allowed Naslund to snipe from afar relatively uncontested. Zetterberg and Datsyuk in the same scenario played with Holmstrom, and recently Abdelkader. It's a proven way to score. And in a cap world it's important to have these guys, but NOT overpay them. Chicago traded Byfuglien when he was due to be overpaid and now Bickell is overpaid. So a plan to win with smaller top-6 forwards should include a big guy on a entry-level or at least an RFA contract.

By small I mean less than 200lbs. Weight, not height, is what's important in the NHL and it should be imperative in this era to have most everyone on the team be at least 200lbs and be able to play decent minutes against all competition levels. If you manage that, then you have a clear advantage over teams who don't. But if you have smaller players, then they should have the skill, speed and gumption to make up for it. Guys who are too slight to go to the hard areas may tend to stay on the perimeter during critical moments. It's these moments that truly expose what type of player the guy is. If he's 50-100ft away from the net at all times, then the odds of him scoring are quite low. If, however, the smaller player has little fear, great strength for his size and tremendous skill to get the puck through heavy traffic, then he'll make up for his lack of size. If he does this in critical moments, then he is a very valuable small player.

2. Quit Thinking Top-6, Bottom-6.

There should be no dividing line between the forwards that says half of them should be underskilled, but tight-checking guys with little offensive potential, and at the same time the top-6 should be one-dimensional wizards who need great zonestarts to score often enough to make up for their lack of defensive abilities. That strategy rarely works, if ever.

Instead break your most talented players into pairs, and run 4 relatively equal lines. Esp. in the playoffs. That way it's impossible for chessmatch opposing coaches to match lines.

How you deploy them is checking-adept guys first, followed by your secondary offense, followed by your primary offense. The primary offense, who can play longer shifts and more minutes per game, then takes advantage of third-pairing opposing defences. This is Sedinery 101. The 4th line, which the Canucks have lacked for quite awhile, should have at least one capable goal-scorer on it. A 100% mucker line is useless and shouldn't have a role in today's NHL.

If you have a top center who's also a tremendous checking player, then your team has a clear advantage, as you can deploy him in all situations. This also serves to nullify a chessmatch coaches' line-matching strategy. Anze Kopitar's deployment is a good example. He is facing the best competition, not the weakest, like the prime Sedins. But if LA did not have additional offense to take advantage of third-pairing defences as well, this strategy would not be all that effective. Hence, the need for depth, which is amplified by using pairs.

If you have 4 centers who can do it all; score, check, win draws, play defensively, then you're at cup contender status. Every forward pairing should have one of these centers on it. Winger pairings aren't nearly as good because the true strength of a teams' offense is carried up the middle. LA deployed their top checkers, Kopitar and Stoll, more often. Then what followed was their top scoring, Carter and then Richards (on an off year) was their 4th line option. If teams' centers that can do it all, but fall short for whatever reason on their current teams and are put on the market, then management should try very hard to snap them up.

3. One-Dimensional = Useless

This should be fairly obvious, but if the guy, no matter how skilled he is, doesn't give any regard to defense or is utterly inneffective at it no matter how hard he tries, then he should be discarded, or at least deployed against low qualcomp pairings and forwards. A coach doesn't really want to have to do this every game for more than a couple players though. Winning involves taking advantage of other teams' weaknesses more often than covering your own teams'. If the players you rely on to score at critical times are not able to cover anyone on defense without taking a penalty, then there is no way you can ultimately win.

On the other end, what of the slow-skating, meagrely-skilled forward who's there for just size, perhaps, but not much physicality because he's just too slow to execute any checking. Or perhaps he's there to drop 'em with other middleweights when his team is down by 3? If a team has any of these players in the lineup, then it's just too underskilled to win. It's even better to put in a one-dimensional skilled guy instead. At least he can score.

4. What Makes A Defenseman Truly Elite?

A defender who can play 30+ minutes of effective hockey is a rare commodity indeed. But what makes the guy able to do that often is not so much his personal ability, which is still exceptional, but how effective the forwards are at their job.

If a team possesses enough strength in the middle, then a 'franchise' defenseman can play a very high amount of minutes fairly easily, as puck control is high, the odds of being stapled on the end boards are low and a lot of time is being spent up ice instead of being hemmed in your own zone.

If a team uses a dated top-6, bottom-6 strategy or simply doesn't have the horses, then they run the risk of injury to their defense as they tire often in shifts and get run over by fresher forwards. Teams with mucker-level 4th lines are suspect in this regard as well as those with low-skill or small 3rd lines.

When Lidstrom was in his prime, you could barely touch him because Detroit was just too deep up front. (Yzerman, Fedorov, Larionov, Draper... All two-way stars) Same with Niedermayer in New Jersey (Sykora, Arnott, Holik, Madden, Gomez) and Keith in Chicago (Toews, Sharp, Bolland, Madden) The key factor is having 4 centers who are reliable in all zones.

(The Canucks' recent drafting strategy as of late seems to revolve around filling the lineup with centers of this desirable ability. So let's hope that pans out.)

5. Penalties Are Stupid

'Moral Victory!' Are you kidding me? Nobody wants to see goon hockey anymore. But beyond that, there seems to be this feeling in Vancouver that the refs are out to get them. False. The reason the team takes more penalties than others and appears to be fouled more often than not is because it is simply built incorrectly.

A team that has one relatively one-dimensional scoring line will find that line to be targeted every night. So that's why the point I made in 'Bigger is Better' applies. When push comes to shove, you're going to need that big net presence to take physical pressure off your scorers and to give them some more space. However, that big net presence shouldn't be a goon or a totally undisciplined wackjob or he'll be a total detriment to the teams' scoring efforts.

This is exactly what happened in the Canucks' upset loss against Minnesota. Bertuzzi collected mountains of penalties in that series and didn't stop doing the same silly crosschecking play over and over again in front of the net. And because they Canucks were pretty much a one-line team back then, with a weak goalie and a coach who didn't make adjustments well, that was enough to bury them.

A guy like Bertuzzi should have been corralled. But what about Burrows' biting/hair-pulling antics? And Kassian's multiple suspensions? Are these types of guys irreparable? Perhaps if the entire team was built better. What takes the pressure off of these guys to take these insane penalties is if the rest of the team is built well enough to start dictating play. The fewer guys that need protecting, the less the need for retaliation penalties. The more puck control you have, the less need there is to take penalties at all. Again, the need for 4 'do-all' centers in the lineup comes into effect.

6. You Shouldn't Rely on The Power Play to Score

This relies too much on the refs making calls, and we all know the whistle pretty much vanishes in the playoffs. This is also part of the persecution complex in Vancouver. The Sedins, being powerplay wizards in their prime, absolutely needed the powerplay to be effective. So when the calls stopped coming, the whining started increasing. And so did the diving.

A team that is built properly shouldn't need the powerplay at all to score. A coach should be able to focus on a 5-on-5 deployment strategy and treat powerplays as a bonus. If that is the case, then his team is close to being ready to win.

7. Effective Minutes-Played For Cup-Contending Teams

Top offensive foward pairing: 16 es mins/g, center 2 sh mins/g, both 3 pp mins/g

Top checking pairing: 14 es mins/g, center 3 sh mins/g, both 1 pp mins/g

Secondary offense pairing: 13 es mins/g, 2 sh mins/g, 2 pp mins/g

Third player on top line: 13 es mins/g, 3 pp mins/g

Third player on top checking line: 13 es mins/g, able to fill in for pp and sh when needed

Third player on secondary offense line: 11 es mins/g, able to fill in for pp when needed

Secondary checking pairing: 10 es mins/g, center 3 sh mins.g, winger albe to fill in pp when needed

Third player on secondary checking line: 8 mins/g

Notice all centers can pk? That's vital. If your centers can't all pk, then it's going to be hard to win.

#1 D: 22 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g, 3 pp mins/g (again, made easier via center depth)

#2 D: 19 es mins/g, 2 sh mins/g, 2 pp mins/g (big shutdown-type)

#3 D: 17 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g (big shutdown-type)

#4 D: 17 es mins/g, 3 pp mins/g (secondary pmd)

#5 D: 14 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g

#6 D: 12 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g

You can get away with one non-pk defenseman, but any more than that and you're putting too much pressure on too few defensemen to play these tougher minutes.

The need for a true #1 was perhaps not stated well in the defense section above, but there's a reason why the winning teams all have them. The guy should be able to physically handle enough reliable skating minutes. If he has elite speed, that's a bonus, but the two factors typically go hand-in-hand. For Weber/Chara types, you can see where elite size and shot is the bonus instead. If the guy has speed, but no shot or offense, then he's not #1 capable. If the guy has size, but again no shot or much speed or offense, then he's not #1 capable. The physical attributes and skillset simplt needs to be there first, or it's not happening. You'll find many a team rolling the dice in the draft looking for these type of defensemen.

8. Goaltending is Overrated

If Crawford in Chicago can win, then any average goalie able to physically play enough games can win. One thing the great goaltenders of the current era have in common is the great 'do-all' center depth i've been bringing up over and over again, and the appropriately-built and deployed team otherwise.

If a team has the forwards and defensemen i've indicated, able to play the effective minutes i've indicated, then a goaltender's job is made a lot easier. All he has to do most of the time is go into his butterfly and wait with his giant pads. He'll be well rested, allowing him to make 'spectacular' saves now and then look easy.

Any team relying on their goaltender to win will not win.

9. Injury Replacements

If a team is built appropiately, then puck-control will be high and injuries low. However, injuries still happen. A team needs 1-2 spare forwards capable of playing 12 es mins per game in short stretches, and 2 defensemen also capable of playing 12 es mins per game, with 2 pk mins/g on top of that in short stretches.

In the playoffs these players should all be used, and more appropriately, all be useful, preferably in early rounds, to make the regulars' lives easier going forward.

10. Cap World

In the current era, you need to base a winning plan on your entry-level players. All winning teams in the cap era have had these types. The higher the cap, the more deep the entry-level types are in the lineup.

Appropiately building the team takes this into account. Once a decent group of character prospects is selected in a few years of drafts, the draft should very well be 'capped off' by a superstar selection, preferably a franchise center or perhaps a quick franchise defenseman if that center is already there. Then the clock starts ticking on the winning window.

It needs to be understood that the younger the superstar, the wider the window will be. Remember the Sedin window? Because it took them so long to hit their prime, that window was made fairly brief. And now the Canucks are heading into rebuild mode. That rebuild should be capped-off by a superstar draft selection. But the question is when? Now? Or years from now? Well, that's going to have to be decided by Linden and Benning, as they look over what prospects they have and plan for the future.

I hope this has been a decent read for you all. Go Canucks Go! Thanks.

BanTSN

Every year there's a lot of hype made by various bloggers and media outlets on various players with a fairly good chance to be a bust in the NHL.

Why is this? To give desperate Canadian hockey fans a fantastical pot of gold chance at the end of the undersized rainbow? Or do the players themselves lobby on speed and skill factors to try to climb in the draft? Who knows.

All I know is that there should be a no-nonsense, cut the bull edition of draft rankings put out there so we educated fans can make the correct call and then judge their teams' performance accurately when they once again fail to make the correct call.

As it pertains to the Canucks, well, this is the start of the Trevor Linden era in Canuck management. With that comes a lot of hype, and a lot of expectation. If Linden's first pick is another dud, then that is certainly not a good start to his tenure here.

But no doubt the Canucks will be hyping up whoever they pick, regardless of what his actual, legit NHL upside is. How do we cut the bull when that time comes? Well, let's just do it. Let's make a comprehensive list based on the information readily available out there on all the top prospects today. Let's forget about all the 'well the undersized player can possibly grow' bs and add that factor in. Let's look at players that certain media outlets and bloggers have been underrating or even totally ignoring for some strange reason. Cut the bull.

On that note, here's my top-15 rankings, no-nonsense edition:

1. RD Aaron Ekblad b

2. RC Sam Reinhart a

3. LW Sam Bennett a

4. LC Michael Dal Colle bp

5. LC Leon Draisaitl bsn

6. RW Jake Virtanen bep

7. LW Brendan Perlini b

8. RW Alex Tuch bp

9. LW Nick Ritchie odp

10. LD Haydn Fleury b

11. LC Dylan Larkin a

12. RW Kasperi Kapanen u

13. LW Nikolaj Ehlers u-e

14. LW/LC Willie Nylander u-

15. LW Sonny Milano a

u Undersized

a Average-sized

b Big

o Overweight

s Slow but skilled

- One-dimensional

d Dumb penalty-taker

e Elite speed

p Powerful

n Not a big gamer

1. Based more on NHL central scouting and ISS, combined with legit upside, not a fantasy/preseason upside.

2. Frankly, i'm astounded as to how the americans are being largely ignored on cdc. They're good.

3. There are a lot of decent players to select from that don't carry an amazing amount of risk with them. The Canucks would be better suited to start picking those prospects up.

4. Nylander, the girlie-looking powerplay specialist wildcard, will drop that far because of his attitude problems.

BanTSN

The Canucks put on a great show today at BC place, which was full of 50,000 plus fans. A great sunday outing for families, which was marked on everyone's calendar since it was announced, the event featured great music, great festivities, great weather (should have uncovered it perhaps if there was snow), and yes, a reasonably great game of hockey.

The Canucks and Senators, who aren't offical 'rivals' by any stretch, put up an extreme physical effort for a classic game and matched each other hit for hit all game long. It had a bit of a playoff feel. It featured goals, which for outdoor games are hard to come by. But more than that, it featured watchable hockey action. Outdoor games are sluggish at best, and once you get over the spectacle of snow falling down or wind blowing around, the game itself is pretty darn awful. Today was an exception and may have opened the NHL's eyes towards how much easier and more enjoyable it is to set up and watch these games in covered arenas.

What more could the fans and media have asked for here?

Well, apparently fans wanted Roberto Luongo in the game. Or did they? More like they just want a win.

Patience is at an end for a lot of fans in Vancouver. Patience with this core group. So when the Canucks came out flying and earned a 2-goal lead, only to blow it soon after when their play flatlined, such as has the story has been for the team all season long, out came the boo-birds/Lu supporters to let the team know their displeasure. This is a normal expectation for a group that has seen their team virtually fall off the map since the start of 2014.

Yet, critical fans and media are taking these few seconds of vocal displeasure and hyping it up to mock the team and the event they did such a great job of putting together.

I can't help feel but those people have an agenda to knock the Canucks wherever there may be a possible fault.

From Elliott Friedman's over-the-top and pointless tirade against Vancouver fans, who will no doubt respond on twitter, etc., building the mystique of Vancouver's fans being 'oh so bad', but all these other fans who boo their team every night don't apply to the critiques.

To Glenn Healy's pokes and jabs at the franchise all game long, as nonsensical as they sometimes are. (How much are they paying Jim Hughson to keep his mouth shut and not seriously run out of his booth, across the ice just to sock Glenn a good one anyway?)

To the ongoing 'Canucks are classless, their fans are classless, everything about them is classless, blah, blah, blah' mantra that the CBC, TSN, and eastern Sportsnet commentators continuously shovel out this way, night after night after night.

To those people and to Vancouver's very own media and fans who are on an obvious agenda of embitterment, I say shame on you. Say what you want about the teams' performance on the ice in 2014 or whatever coaching or managing decisions you don't approve of. But please, don't knock this Heritage Classic game because of a mere starting of a backup goaltender. (Good God, get OVER the whole goaltender thing already! Jesus!) Or whatever the fans may having been chanting for a few seconds.

This game was the best 'classic' game or 'stadium series' game or whatever the NHL's going to end up calling them all so far. It had everything but a Canucks win.

The event today was kick-ass. Applaud the Canucks, your team, for the show they put on. They did a marvelous job.

BanTSN

I posted this in the proposals section, but it probably doesn't belong there as proposals are more specific, like 'trade for Stamkos' etc. And that OP is just too epic. So I made it into a blog. It's my first entry and likely last one for awhile. Thanks for reading if you decide to.

The Canucks Should Start Acquiring More Truly Great Players - A History

The Sedins are great players, but still down the list of ALL-TIME greats.

Bure was better. Probably the best Canuck of all time.

Naslund was up there too.

... Is that it? Do you consider Luongo one of the all-time greats? Not sure. Maybe if he won a cup.

So I guess that's it. One player per decade, unless you count the Sedins as one player, and honestly they'll likely be inducted in the HOF as a pair.

Um, that's not a lot. In fact i'm wondering if that's a league-low. But i don't want to look into it, nor start a debate with homers about whether ho-hum players like Ohlund, Smyl and Snepts are all-time greats. Not to mention Linden. (I get into that later.)

I propose that we start acquiring more truly great players if we want to ultimately win a cup.

How though?

First, we should probably use the draft to do it. Throughout Canuck history we've squandered picks on slow big players and small fast players. Or just plain up wrong players. From day 1 this team has stunk at drafting. Tallon over Sittler, Leach, Macleish. Then it continues on. Guevermont over Martin. Lalonde over Larry Robinson. And on and on. Lever over Shutt. Ververgeart over Lanny Macdonald. Sedlbauer over Mark Howe. Gillis over Wilson. That ancient pattern has sadly repeated itself for this team to this very day.

Wouldn't it be better for this team if they simply stopped drafting the wrong players? Over and over and over again? I sure think so. Moreso, I would like it for the team to stop telling us that the wrong player they picked was actually the right player. We're not idiots. We know a good player when we see one, let lone a great one. We've seen plenty a great player come into our arena and dominate us.

Secondly, how about trading for some? Or at least stop trading the ones you have away for garbage. Or losing them for nothing. I think the Canucks would've been a much better team if they had not traded Neely away. Heck, Rick Vaive? Maybe the Canucks would've been a much better team if they had kept Bure. And Larionov. Heck, Nedved went onto be a 90pt player. Peca went to the finals. Mogilny was great and all, but not so much for us. He won as soon as we traded him though.

Third, wouldn't it be nice if the Canucks could be like these other great franchises who draft great players, make great signings and great trades? Maybe we could sign some great players. The only great players we've signed lately have been expired goods. Remember Mats Sundin? He is one of the all-time greats. But for us? Embarrassing. Why is that? Why is it the Canucks always seem to get players who are currently embarrassing? I think the Canucks should certainly stop doing that if they want to ultimately win.

Polasek over Valeri Bure. Remember that? Fourth, hey, maybe the Canucks should keep their great players they have happy. That way they wouldn't all want to instantly leave when they get the chance. I dunno. Maybe just and idea. I guess we're doing that more though. However, we're still not getting enough in the draft, signings and trades.

Fifth. How about being able to develop players correctly. That would sure help. Hey, remember how long it took the Sedins to finally become good? To not be soft? To finally be able to score in this league regularly. If you don't remember, it was around six years, and that's only because the league softened the rules to cut down on obstruction. That's a pretty long time to get players who are talented 2nd and 3rd overall picks (we've never had a first overall) to finally develop into decent NHL players. Shouldn't the Canucks get better at that too if they ultimately want to win? I think so.

And how about Trevor Linden? We consider him the best Canuck of all time, but he's NOT one of the all-time greats. I think we loved Trevor Linden so much because the Canucks finally drafted a player who looked decent, AND he stuck around, sort of. That only took 19 years. 19 years? Wow, that's a long time. The only other guys we drafted up until then who looked decent were Vaive and Neely, but they had to go elsewhere to be good. Remember how we traded Linden anyway? Remember how we signed the guy who broke him in the playoffs to take over the team? Like a slap in the face? Wow, you don't see any great franchises treat their beloved players so poorly. Do you? Sixth, I recommend that the Canucks stop throwing their good players under the bus. It's pretty darn shameful if you ask me.

I think that there are some players they're looking at right now and saying, 'Hey! You're no good anymore! Get out of here, you no good player, you.' When actually they're still good. It's just that they're playing on a crap team. Seventh, maybe the Canucks should stop trading those good players away and instead trade the bad players who make the team crap away instead. I think this ties into drafting and development as well. Maybe stop drafting crap and having crap development. I think that would help a lot.

In conclusion, I guess things have been better as of late. Not everything is as crappy as what it was in the 70's, 80's (except '82) and the Messier era. But they're still not all that great. Why is that? Well, because we're still not getting enough great players. We're not keeping the good ones around. And we have too many crappy players in our lineup currently. That's why they're losing currently, and that's why they ultimately haven't won a cup. Just way too many crappy players in our lineups throughout team history.

I've suggested 7 things that the Canucks should be doing in order to turn that around. They're all pretty good suggestions i think. And they're all pretty easy to do. Just draft better. (Quit highlighting the wrong players on your picklist and instead highlight the right ones. That would be a good start.) Then start making some decent trades and signings. Easy enough. We've done that before to a degree. Not 'great' trades and signings per se, but some alright ones. (Heck, remember when we traded for Naslund? Yay that was a gooder) And once we got these good players, it's pretty important to help them out in every way, not throw them under the bus. I have a feeling that the Sedins are going to be thrown under the bus after their 4 year deal too. Say SEE ya! after all those years of service while supporting them with garbage complimentary players during a weak retooling period. What's the deal with that? I don't think any great franchise would do that to their great players. It's wrong. We need to stop being wrong.

Okay, sorry for the long read, but I think essentially the concept is pretty easy to follow. Thanks for reading.

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