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Canucks Prospects: A Look at the Top 10, and a Look at the Future



The NHL 2014 Entry draft is finished, and much to the disappointment of some fans, the Canucks did not trade up for the 1st overall pick. That being said, having dealt Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks ended up holding the #6 and #24 overall picks. With these picks, the Canucks drafted speedy powerforward Jake Virtanen and solid two-way center Jared Mccann.

This blog entry will focus on ranking the Canucks current prospects, including the ones just drafted, as well as providing a brief insight on how and when these prospects will make an impact in the NHL. I will finish off the post by providing my projected Canucks lineup for the upcoming years.


To start things off, let's rank the Canucks top 10 prospects

#1: Bo Horvat

Despite having the #6 pick in 2014, Bo Horvat is still considered as the Canucks top prospect. While other prospects may have a higher ceiling than Horvat, Bo is as much as a sure thing as you can get. He is already a great defensive center, and his offensive abilities seem to be developing nicely.

Career Projection (in his prime):

55 points (70 point career high)

Potential Captain

High end PKer

Horvat projects to be a #2 center in the NHL. His high end potential is a Patrice Bergeon comparable, while his low end is a Jared Stoll comparable. He will most likely end up being close to a player such as Ryan O'Reilly. ETA: 2014/2015 (9 games), 2015/2016 full time.

#2: Jake Virtanen

The new kid, Jake Virtanen, comes in at #2 on this list. Jake is exactly what the Canucks need, a fast sniper with a physical edge. Jake has higher end potential than Horvat, how ever, there are some concerns over his playmaking ability. People are concerned about his 26 assists, let me remind you that Jeff Carter only had 4 more in his draft year, while posting less goals.While he is almost guaranteed to be an NHLer due to his incredible athletic ability, we will need to wait to see if it will be on the 1st line, or the 3rd.

Career Projection (in his prime):

65 points (75 points career high)

Potential Captain

Top-20 goal scorer

Virtanen projects to be a #1/2 goal scoring power winger in the NHL. While some people think that his hockey IQ (or lack of) will limit him to be a 3rd line winger, others believe that his offensive abilities, combined with a playmaking line mate, will allow him to flourish as a top line player. Virtanen's high end upside is a Jeff Carter comparable, while his low end is a Jason Chimera. He will most likely end up being a Blake Wheeler calibre player (smaller, but faster). ETA: 2016/2017 season.

#3 Hunter Shinkaruk

Hunter Shinkaruk may be the prospect that excites me the most. In my opinion, he has the highest offensive upside of any of our prospects. His game is dynamic, from skating to shooting, he is a very gifted offensive player. What impresses me the most about him however is his compete level. He isn't tiny, but he's not big either. For a guy of his size, he is quite aggressive on the ice. He has heart and passion, which will do him well in his goal to make the NHL.

Career Projection (in his prime):

65 points (80 points career high)

Top-20 goal scorer

Shinkaruk projects to be a #1/2 speedy winger with great hands and sniping ability. While he has elite offensive skills, his size and injury concerns could hinder his ability to make it to the NHL. It's either top-6 forward or bust for him. The good thing is, so far, it looks like he is set to make the NHL in the near future. His high end potential is a Zach Parise type player. His low end is a bust. Most likely, he will end up to be a Jeff Skinner type player. ETA: 2015/2016 season.

#4 Jared Mccann

Mccann is another exciting prospect. Mccann already possesses solid defensive abilities, and has on just started to touch on his offensive abilities. Mccann is the type of player who is good now, and has the potential to be great.

Career Projection (in his prime):

50 points (60 points career high)

Top PKer

Mccann projects to be a #2 center in the NHL. He has the potential to be creative, two-way player, he just needs to put it all together. His high end potential is a Logan Couture type player, while is low end is a Brandon Sutter type player. Most likely, he will end up to be a Valteri Filppula type player. ETA: 2016/2017.

#5: Nicklas Jensen

Jensen has all the tools to be a good NHLer. He's already shown flashes of brilliance at both the AHL and NHL level. He has nice hands, good speed and size, and a knack for the net, he just needs to work on his consistency.

Career Projections (in his prime):

50 points (60 points career high)

Top-40 goals

Jensen projects to be a #2 winger in the NHL. His blend of speed, size, and sniping ability make him a rare player, however he will need to work on using his size better in order to reach his max potential. His high end potential is a James Neal (not playing with Malkin). His low end potential is Michael Ryder. Most likely, he will turn out to be a Jussi Jokinen type player. ETA 2014/2015.

#6 Frank Corrado

Corrado is our best defensive prospect...for now (you will see with #7). Corrado is very mobile and sound defensively. He still has untapped offensive potential, and could work on his physical game. Overall, he is a very good two-way defender.

Career Projection (in his prime):

30 points (40 points career high)

Top PKer

2nd Unit PP

Frankie projects to be a #3/4 d man in the NHL. He is a very safe player, and can provide a steadying presence for his partner. At his best, Corrado could be a Paul Martin type player. At his worst, Corrado could be a Ben Lovejoy type defender. Overall, Corrado will probably end up being a Kevin Bieksa type player, assuming his physicality picks up a bit. ETA 2014/2015.

#7 Ben Hutton

Big Ben comes in at #7, but could climb up much higher in the near future. I believe he has the most potential of any of our D prospects, but is harder to compare to other prospects (such as Corrado) who have CHL, AHL, and NHL experience. Hutton is a nice 6'3 200lbs, and is a good skater. With the right development, he could be a very good NHL defender.

Career projection (in his prime):

40 points (45 career high)

Top PP

2nd Unit PK

Top-10 goals by defencemen

Hutton projects to be a #3/4 defender at the NHL level for now. However, if he builds on his great season from 2013/2014, he could project to be a #2/#3 guy. He is a very dynamic player, who is good at just about everything. He has the potential to be a PP quarterback in the NHL, while still being solid defensively. His high end potential is a Jack Johnson type player, while his low end is a Jakub Kindl type player. He will likely become a John Carlson type player. ETA 2016/2017.

#8 Brendan Guance

Gaunce is a big, rugged player. He plays a very heavy game, and excels in a shutdown role. Although he doesn't possess high end speed, his first few steps are explosive, and very underrated.

Career projection (in his prime):

40 points (50 career high)

Top PK

2nd Unit PP

Gaunce is a solid all around player who will be a solid NHLer. While he could be a 2nd line center, I think he projects more to be a high end #3 center in the NHL. His size and strength will help him match up well against more offensive forwards, while his offensive instincts and heavy shot will allow him to put up good point totals. His high end potential is a Patrik Berglund type player, and his low end potential is a Kyle Chipchura type player. Most likely, he will end up as a Kyle Brodziak type player. ETA 2015/2016.

#9 Thatcher Demko

Demko is another player that I believe will shortly shoot up this list. He possesses everything to be a very good NHL player in the future; size, drive, and a good development program. Demko has all the tools, and if he keeps improving a bit every year, the kid could be a star.

Career projection (in his prime):

0.920 SV % (Vezina nomination career high)

2.20 GAA

35 wins

I believe in Thatcher Demko because I believe in the Boston College Development program. I've be lucky to watch a number of this games over this past year (unfortunately none live), and Thatch has impressed me. He is already a big guy, and seems to be always in good position. He just brings that calming presence to a team that is vitally important in a good goalie. Overall, Demko projects to be a very good NHL #1 goalie one day, with borderline elite potential. At his highest ceiling, Demko could become a Cory Schneider type goalie. At his worst, Demko could be a Anders Lindback type player. Realistically, I can see Demko becoming a Ben Bishop type goalie. ETA 2018/2019.

#10 Cole Cassels

Cole is a very interesting player. He seems to have a high compete level, and sees the ice very well. He is also incredibly versatile. With the great season he had in 2013/2014, he has made it up to the #10 spot on my list.

Career projection (in his prime)

40 points (50 career high)

2nd Unit PK

2nd Unit PP

Cassels reminds me a lot of Chris Higgins, if Higgy played center. He is good in all things, and works hard every night. I like that he plays with a bit of an edge as well, as it makes him very versatile in either a top-6 or a top-9 role. He could be a perfect #7 forward. At his high end, he could be a Frans Nielsen type player, and at his low end, he could be a Dominic Moore type player. Most likely, he ends up as a Derrick Brassard type player. ETA 2016/2017.

That concludes my top-10 prospect rankings, feel free to offer your own suggestions in the comments section below. Now, I will give my projected Canucks lineup for the next few years.












Upvote 5


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Nice job Dan. You really know your stuff, A 'Nucklehead of the highest rank!

I tend to see Gaunce as a pro left winger but other than that, I think you nailed it. Congratulations, first rate.

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Projections in general look conservative. However, I tend to be optimistic in my projections so your predictions are probably close. Good job.

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#5: Nicklas Jensen is on the team next year so take him out and in his place add FOX who you seemed to have missed!!!!

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^ a few of these guys could be with the big club next year. I still consider Jensen a prospect, as he has not broken in with the Canucks full time yet. I would rank Fox in the 12-15 range. He may be good, but he also may be a complete bust. Hard to tell with overagers.

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Prospect projections are fine, as they may reach potential here or elsewhere. That being said, long-distance lineup projections are a bit of a waste of time. Too many variables.

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ummm what about alex grenier 6 foot 5 scored over 20 goals in Utica how come he isn't even mentioned lol

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Virtanen will never score 30 goals at the NHL level . He might get 60 points if he is force fed the best linemates and all the PP time. He is a second line winger with physical upside.

Calling him captain material at this point is fantasy.

Brendan Gaunce will never score 50 points in the NHL. He is a third line character guy with speed issues.

Demko could very well end up as good as Schneider

Mc Cann is pegged to become a 3rd line center with hustle . Maybe even a second line center.

Shinkaruk and Jensen are our most offensively gifted prospects. They should become first liners.

  • Upvote 1
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Thank you for your input.

@the_grinder: Grenier is a solid prospect, but I believe that the guys I listed all have higher upside. If I had an honorable mentions list, he would be on it.

@Absent_Canuck: I'd like to hear your reasoning for these assumptions. All scouting reports indicate that Virtanen very well could be a 30 goal NHL player, he was one of the best, if not the best, pure goal scorer in his class.

As for Gaunce, like I said, he looks to be a very good 3rd line center.I compared him to Berglund, who has had one 50 point year, but is usually more in the 35-45 range, which is where I project Gaunce.

Demko I agree will be a stud.

Mccann I projected as a Valteri Flipula type player, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.

Shinkaruk I also think has 1st line potental and while Jensen could,he is projected to be more of a 2nd liner.

  • Upvote 2
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great job, really liked it.

Our cubbard is pretty solid, also Dane Fox and Linden Vey are very interesting prospects.

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Nice blog. I agree with the rankings of the prospects, but the projected absolute levels are optimistic.

I assume that Vey is not included because he is no longer a prospect as he is almost certain to make the team out of training camp. If he were a prospect he would be number 1, He is a former WHL (and CHL) scoring leader and a point a game guy for the last two years in the AHL -- much better than any other Canuck prospect has done in recent memory. And he has become a good two-way player and can kill penalities as well a play on the PP.

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After Horvat gets sent down after 9 games you will see jensen who I thought made the team last year and only reason he isnt on the team is to give Horvat 9 games,other then that not to bad but like said you forgot fox!

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