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About GoneProspectin'

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    Aces Prospect

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    Doin' some panning down by the river
  1. Without a single pick in the first three rounds of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, due to the Keith Ballard trade, Canucks GM Mike Gillis was conscripted with a difficult task; make the most of five lower round picks and continue adding depth to a deepening prospect pool. The Canucks have seen steady improvement in the player development side of hockey operations, partly due to an increased number of staff assigned to the department, partly due to the strength of the teams farm teams, yet also partly due to two strong drafts in a row. Given the lack of high picks this year, nobody expected Gillis to have another Jordan Schroeder drop to him, but surely he could find another Kevin Connauton or Steven Anthony. Depending on who you ask he either achieved greatly or failed miserably. His picks were either good or bad; black or white. On Friday night Gillis made a difficult and admirable decision to deal away his first round pick when the player(s) his draft team put at the top of their lists were no longer available; likely Jarred Tinordi and Beau Bennett, maybe Mark Pysyk. The loss of the first round selection meant the Canucks would wait til the fourth round to grab their first fresh new face. Patrick McNally would be that selection, a mobile defenceman that will fill out his frame nicely, his detractors will focus on how difficult it is to judge a players skill when playing against inferior talent as McNally did in the Prep School system in New England under Paul Cannata, (who, despite speculation, has no relation to Canucks goalie prospect Joe Cannata) playing against kids who, for the most part, will not play hockey past grade 12. Even an average player will look good to great against weak opposition who have yet to hit puberty let alone their growth spurt. His detractors may also focus on the lack of quality opposition that Harvard University typically plays against in the NCAA and Harvard's recently suspect reputation for producing quality NHL talent. However, his supporters will say that the praise bestowed upon McNally by Cannata comes from as educated a hockey mind as exists at that level, with six seasons under his belt as an assistant coach at Northeastern University, Cannata knows what to look for in young kids going to play in the NCAA and even those who are lucky enough to go on to play in the NHL. McNally's admittance into Harvard implies he has those character intangibles that Gillis' speaks so often on needing to see in his players. Cornering the market on hockey players with the last name "Polasek" the Canucks drafted Adam with their fifth round selection. A rangy defenceman from the Czech Republic that is as comfortable jumping up into the play as he is backchecking, Adam likely won't have as many detractors as will the rest of the Canucks selections this year. If he does have detractors they will likely focus on two things, first, how unfortunate it is that he shares a last name with a former Canucks draft pick that most of us have worked hard to wipe from memory, and second whether or not he is really as good as his performance in the QMJHL indicates. It is well documented that defenders from the east are difficult to judge when playing against such small albeit skilled forwards day in day out especially when usually playing in more offensively oriented systems. However, his supporters will note that Polasek was the best blueliner on his Czech team in the U-18 World Championships, against the best young talent in the world, even when asked to assume a more defensive role than he was accustomed to. They will also point to Polasek's recent nominations as the QMJHL Rookie of the Year and the QMJHL Rookie Defenceman of the Year as well as his inclusion in the QMJHL All-Rookie Team. By all accounts, Polasek may just be one of the steals of the draft. Moving away from drafting blueliners, Gillis used the teams sixth round pick, acquired in the Mathieu Schneider trade, to take undersized but overpowering centre Alex Friesen from the Niagara Ice Dogs. His detractors will note that for undersized players to succeed in the NHL they usually need to have enough offensive upside to counterbalance the lack of size and strength. Scoring 23 goals and adding 27 assists on an average Ice Dogs team is certainly worthy of respect, but perhaps not praise. This upcoming year will go a long way to determining if Friesen has more potential than a fourth line grinder. However, his supporters will point your attention to a recent OHL coaches poll where Friesen was voted as both the most hardworking player and the best face-off man in the OHL's Eastern Conference. A powerful pitbull of a player, Friesen throws his small albeit fit frame around well and can wreak havoc on the forecheck, combined with his skating, work ethic, and aptitutde for winning face-offs it is easy to see why he warranted a pick in his second go around in the NHL Entry Draft. While he has yet to prove he will be able to produce offensively at the NHL level, in no way has he given anyone a reason to doubt his ability and potential to be a difference maker. Getting back on track with what Gillis said he was looking for in this years draft (defencemen and goaltending) the Canucks then selected Jonathan Iilahti with their original sixth round pick. His detractors will point out (once they are able to pronounce his name) that the Finnish U-18 league is not known for providing as challenging an environment as is found in Sweden or North America, and the fact he wasnt able to produce any great numbers with Espoo's U18 or U20 teams, never getting his GAA below a 2.49 and never having a higher Save % than .917. He is also a featherweight at the moment (6'1" and just 167 lbs.) and will take some time to fill out. However, his supporters will point towards any number of Finnish goaltenders who have been picked in late rounds (Kiprusoff went 116th, Niittymaki went 168th, Rinne went 258th) and that all of these goalies, as well as Niemi, took time to develop and at one point or another were relative unknowns just like Iilahti. They will also point out his Bronze medal winning performance going 4-2 in the 2010 U-18 World Championships despite having a 2.79 GAA and a .893 Save %. Iilahti signed an extension with Espoo on May 18th and will playing for the Blues senior team next season. Ending the long day of drafting the Canucks took a shot in the dark on 17 year old member of the NHL Entry Draft "All-Name Team," Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Sawyer Hannay. His detractors will tell you that although he was among the QMJHL's leaders for fighting majors, he was also among the league leaders for minors and he needs to adopt more discipline into his game when throwing around his 6'4" frame. They will also point out that as a tough, stingy, defensive defenceman his -17 rating is worrisome. However, his supporters will tell you the stories of how he came into Mooseheads camp as maybe their seventh d-man at best, and by the end of the year was their go-to shutdown guy. While telling you this story they will salivate at the thought of a nice cold bottle of Moosehead, as well as the fact that Hannay is among the youngest players selected in the draft, and that playing 54 games in your rookie season as a shutdown defenceman in an offensive league is a good indicator that you can play at a high level. Red Line Report also ranked Hannay as the fourth toughest player that was draft eligible this year. Now, the question remains, was the draft a success? Maybe, was the draft a failure? Maybe, did Mike Gillis draft any superstars today? Maybe, did Mike Gillis draft any busts? Maybe. And maybe there is no good or bad, black or white when looking at these young kids and their career potential just hours after being drafted. Maybe it's all just shades of gray.
  2. I'm so glad the Stanley Cup Finals are over, it was difficult to get behind either team. On one hand cheering for the Blackhawks was like cheering for the kid in high school that stole your girlfriend. Cheering for the Flyers would be like cheering for the bully who beat you up and stole your lunch money. I just wanted both of them to make out with Mike Ricci and get mono. Regardless, i had to follow the finals as a true hockey fan...and i also didn't want anyone around me to know what i secretly wanted was the hockey season to finish so soccer season could begin. Yes, the World Cup is upon us, an event which i consider the greatest sporting spectacle in the world...and thanks to those boisterous vuvuzelas it is now also the loudest and most annoying. This got me thinking, one season gave way to the other and they blended so well i started comparing our Canucks prospects to the teams in the World Cup and what i found were some startling similarities. Jordan Schroeder - Brazil Small, skilled, and sneakier than a thief in Johannesburg Schroeder and Brazil are both on top of the world...for the moment. The fleet footed Schroeder finally found World Junior Championship gold this year on his third try, and Brazil has regained their #1 ranking in the world and is the heavy favourite to win it all. Doubts remain though, are they too one-dimensional? Can they play defense? Can they compete against stronger and more physical opponents? Time will tell, for Brazil we will know in a month, for Jordan we will know by the end of training camp. Taylor Ellington - Mexico Always good, but never great. Ellington has spent the last year in the minors, only playing 19 games for the Moose when it was hoped he could play a full season. Even in his final year in Everett he should have been one of the most experienced and weathered blueliners in the WHL but put in a average performance, improving his offensive statistics but making no substantive leap in his development as a defender we all have to wonder: will he break through? Dan Gendur - Greece It still baffles my mind, how Greece was able to win the European Championship all those years ago...they had their success and have been riding it for 6 years. Dan Gendur had one stellar season in the WHL, and has been getting splinters in his butt in Victoria and Johnstown ever since. There was a time when people actually thought Greece might have been a contender...and Gendur might have been a player. How wrong we all were. Peter Andersson - Germany Big, strong, efficient, with a questionable relationship with the English language. There's no flash, little dash, just a lot of crash when it comes to Peter Andersson. Plugged in as a 7th d-man for Sweden's WJHC roster he played a smart and simple game and outshone highly touted prospects like Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He doesn't try to do too much, he just gets in the way, moves the puck up, and makes sure you are on your donkey by the time that happens. He plays a system and he sticks to it. Now he just has to adopt the German pedigree for winning everything except world wars. Patrick White - Canada Huh? What's that? Canada's not in the World Cup? Oh... Cory Schneider - Italy There's little left to do for either. They are proven, experienced, skilled, and have a rich history. But this just isn't going to be Italy's year it's just the wrong place and wrong time for an aging team, better teams are in front of them and they just cannot compete...does all this sound familiar? Steven Anthony - Spain All the skill and all the tools in the world but neither could put them together to go anywhere except back to their home following disappointment after disappointment. Until now, hopefully. Spain had waited forever to have success and two years ago they found it. They caught a break, and so did Anthony. The departure of Jacques Beaulieu opened the door for Anthony to show the world how much skill he had that was being bottled. When that bottle broke he put together a marvelous half season, warranting a late pick by the Canucks. Question with both is: can they continue their resurgence? Eddie Lack, Aaron Volpatti, Chris Tanev, Lee Sweatt - "Democratic" People's Republic of Korea Veritable unknown's, they have never been given a chance to shine on the biggest stage of all, nobody is sure how they will respond or how they will even play. Indeed few people have even seen them play. Are we sure they are hockey players? Not sleeper agents of the Chicago Blackhawks?