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Take Off!


Mike the Yankee

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<table width=90%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/mikeblog.gif border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1>You know how an airplane has to burn all the fuel on take off just to get to a cruising altitude and fly smoothly the rest of the way? Well, that’s September to us hockey fans: it’s the launch - finally! - of the hockey season. And it couldn’t come any faster; any longer without it and I may have started caring about Arod’s poor ankle or what guy on which NFL team is in jail for what.<br /><br />

What are you excited for? Seeing the Sedins zip around like the Swedish cycling demons that they are? Seeing warriors like Naslund and Linden put the new jerseys on their backs and lead this team to another divisional title? Or seeing opposing players sigh, curse loudly to themselves, and stare upwards at the arena rafters after Luongo stymies them yet again?<br /><br />

OK, sure, it’s all of the above.<br /><br />

Currently though, it’s time to get psyched to see the kids at the prospect camp show their stuff and play the role of dark horse in hopes of cracking the big squad come opening night against the Sharks. Sure, it’s a long shot, but that’s part of the fun isn’t it? The prospects camp, if nothing, is usually a time to see the future of the franchise and what up and comers could turn into a Bieksa or a Sedin (obvious reference to an identical twin brother aside). <br /><br />

Here are a few to keep your eyes on in the next several days:<br /><br />

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest5_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest5_09062007_tt.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Luc Bourdon – I know, it’s hardly a shock to not cite the biggest prospect in the club so far, but even Bourdon would be hard pressed not to admit last year’s flirtation period with the Canucks was disappointing. He ended up playing nine games, but didn’t record much more then 4 PIM’s in that time. Critics said he looked wildly out of place and a year of that weighing on the 2005 first round pick’s mind should bring a new mindset to camp this year. And while the Canucks top six defensemen is currently pretty damn deep, imagine how much deeper it gets with a revitalized Bourdon ready to take his play to the next level.<br /><br />

Cory Schneider – He’s the most talked about guy in the media this past off season even though he’s never played a second for the Canucks or even stepped foot on the ice for the Moose. Schneider, the Canuck’s 2004 first round pick, bolted Boston this summer for the comfy confines of the Vancouver organization, but in doing so, leaves Boston College as one of their best goalies ever. Last year alone he had 15 shutouts (a school record) and helped guide them to an NCAA National Championship. In fact, no goalie in the NCAA played more minutes (2,516:33 to be precise) and more games (42) then Schneider. Hmm, having one workhorse already backstopping the Canucks and another ready to test his mettle with the Moose? Go ahead, try and complain about that depth I dare ya.<br /><br />

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest1_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest1_09062007_tt.jpg border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Michael Grabner – May as well get the first rounders out of the way all at once! This speedy 2006 first rounder spent most of last year in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs, but was third on the team in points and then jumped to the Moose in the AHL for a handful of games. Grabner is still progressing obviously (Nonis went on record this summer saying he needs to bulk up), but has the pressure of the first round pick on his shoulders and may use that to try and make a statement at camp this year. Besides, last I checked the Canucks could use as many goal scorers as they can possibly find and Grabner may be a big answer to that, if not now hopefully soon.<br /><br />

Jannik Hansen – I’m not sure you’re a bonafide Canuck fan if you’re not pulling for Hansen. You can ignore his time with the Moose last year where he was sixth in points if you want, but you can’t ignore his call up with the big squad during the first round against Dallas. During that series where we all saw some regular Canucks struggle, Hansen always seemed to jet down the ice and make something happen. And, hey, he’s the first Dane to play ever in an NHL playoff game. Hansen’s just a feel good story waiting to happen and maybe that time is now.<br /><br />

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest9_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest9_09062007_tt.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Mason Raymond – Maybe the darkest horse of them all falls to Raymond, a University of Minnesota-Duluth player who opted to forego his final years at school for a chance in the bigs. This second round pick of the 2005 draft, Raymond was top point-getter on the Bulldogs, tied for second in points last year in the entire WCHA and lead the league in assists and power play points. He joined the Moose for eleven games at the end of the season and then, out of no where, Dave Nonis mentioned him this summer as a potential hidden gem at the prospects camp. Go for it Mason, the big guy called you out. No pressure at all!<br /><br />

There’s plenty to like about this group and - along with Bliznak, Coulombe, Edler, Rahimi and Simek – it’s a great time to keep your eyes and ears peeled to see what level of play the future of the franchise has. As an added bonus, it’s a great opportunity for you to get taste of some hockey before the real season begins.<br /><br />

So sit back and keep those trays in their upright and locked position (or you won’t get any damn peanuts and we’ll sit the annoying screaming child directly behind you). Who knows what’ll happen at the prospect camp, but hey, we’re all Canucks right? It’s time to cheer on the baby ‘nuckers.</td></tr></table>

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