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Who's Number #1?


Who is Vancouver's best prospect?  

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Who's Number #1?

By Ian Esplen

Hockeybuzz.com

Kevin Connauton

Armed with one of the best shots in the AHL, Connauton has the offensive upside to be a key member of the Vancouver PP one day. Connauton is a good skater, with NHL size and a very high compete level. That compete level occasionally gets him running around in his own end, but he is getting better at picking his spots. With 13 goals and a -3 rating this past season, Connauton will compete for a spot on the Vancouver blueline this year.

Eddie Lack

After posting back-to-back outstanding seasons in the AHL, Lack is, in my opinion, Vancouver's most NHL ready prospect. Often compared to Pekka Rinne because of his size and raw talent, Lack will be a star in the NHL once he gets his shot. Hopefully Luongo is traded soon, and Lack gets his shot this year.

Joe Cannata

After four great years and making the Merrimack hockey program relevant on the big stage, Cannata starts his pro career this year in Chicago. Cannata is a big goalie, whose best quality is his composure. Nothing rattles him when he is in the nets. In his one and only pro game to date, Cannata stopped 38 shots and stole a victory for the Wolves.

Nicklas Jensen

Vancouver's next Great Dane is almost ready for the big time. Jensen has NHL level skating, size, and skill. He will push for a roster spot this fall and if he can limit his defensive mistakes, he may make the roster. I personally think he is a year away, but the potential is there for him to be playing in Vancouver's top 6 in 2013/14.

Zack Kassian

The beast has been working harder than he ever has before during this offseason. Kassian is my prediction for breakout player this season. He has the type of mean streak that you just can't teach. I think we will see 10 fights, 200 hits, and 20 goals. With his new found conditioning, I think Kassian's teeth will be a little bit sharper this season.

Patrick McNally

Most of the Canucks bloggers I've seen write the 2010 draft off and call it a failure. While there wasn't a ton to celebrate coming out of the 2010 draft for Vancouver, McNally could prove that quality is better than quantity. After a coming a coming out party in his first college season (28pts in 34 games), I predict McNally will have a Justin Schultz like season this year. McNally is the real deal. Give him another season of two to develop and he will be every bit as good as Justin Schultz.

Frank Corrado

Why Mike Gillis and I are the only people who ever hype this kid is beyond me. Corrado is my dark horse to make the team out of camp. He is an excellent skater, with the skill to step right in. the determining factor on whether Corrado makes the team will be how much ice time is there for him. Drafted in the 5th round, Corrado will be better than half the D taken in the 1st round one day.

Jeremy Price

The D that gets forgotten by a lot of people, Price is very close to being NHL ready. He is an outstanding skater, that plays a very solid two-way game. I believe he will suit up for his senior year at Colgate this year, but after that, look for him to make an immediate impact with the Wolves. Think a more physical Chris Tanev if you want a comparison.

Jordan Schroeder

After another strong year in the AHL, Schroeder looks ready to step into the Vancouver line up. Most nights he was the best player on the ice for the Wolves, and if he had better players around him, he would have scored a lot more. In my opinion, he is the best skater in the entire organization. He can shift gears with ease and blow past D in a blink of an eye. My guess is he takes the 2/3 centre spot in camp and gets people talking.

Joseph Labate

The big centre is still a few years away, but impressed in his first college season. Labate had 20 points and did not look out of place lining up for a good Wisconsin team. Labate brings with him a lot of size, good skill and some good character and leadership qualities. Look for him to be on the roster around 2014/15.

Alex Friesen

I have soft spot for little players that play balls out for 60 minutes a night. While Friesen is a bit of a long shot to make the NHL, I wouldn't rule him out. Not player works as hard as him, he is great on face-offs and he is loaded with those intangibles that coaches love. Look for him to be a very popular player for the Wolves this year.

Brendan Gaunce

The new kid on the block, may just be one of the most NHL ready. Gaunce can player either centre or wing and has an excellent combination of size and skill. He has been compared to Getzlaf and J. Staal. He skates well enough and if he was on the roster next season would be one of Vancouver's biggest players. I think you may see him get a few games in to start the year and then he will be sent back to Jr. to get ready to help Canada win Gold.

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Kassian. Just because he seems the most ready to become something. He seems like he is hungry to make something after a disappointing season last year for him. He didn't have the success he wanted on Buffalo, was traded, then struggled to find consistency here (even though that's understandable for a rookie coming in halfway through the season).

After that it is:

Schroeder

Lack

Jensen

Gaunce

Connauton

Corrado

Cannata

While I wouldn't say that is anywhere near being the best talent pool in the league, it's not bad considering where we were a few seasons ago. In my opinion, the drafting really has turned around.

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Many ways to look at it (similar to an answer above, should be based on need):

PP QB: Connauton

Goalie: Lack

well-rounded defenseman: Corrado/ Price

Checking 3rd line center: Gaunce (Labate and Friesen should be good but I don't think they have the upside)

tough to tell for Top 6 scoring winger, I view Kassian as high-risk, high reward because PF's develop later, and Jensen should be an impact scorer but I think if Zack took/ takes the time to develop right he could be the big guy to play with the Sedins.

Overall I think Jensen has the most potential, CLOSELY followed by Kassian as players who could make an impact on the team.

I think

Jensen

Kassian

Connauton (could play 3rd pair minutes just to reserve him for the PP? At least in the beginning...

if he flops I'd use him like Marc-Andre Bergeron)

Corrado (noticed him after his draft year, been touted as Bieksa but with defensive abilities, hope that means Top 4 minutes)

Gaunce (lower ceiling offensively but should become an integral part of the team in the near future).

*Lack could factor in if the team gets him signed and Lu leaves, though I think if he was willing he should be seasoned like Schneider in the AHL first.

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You are right about McNally.

He had a better rookie season than Schultz had and I too feel he will be more prolific than Schultz.

I think we have a true number 1 Defense-man in the making.

A larger Scott Neidermeyer type D.

Kassian I don't consider a prospect anymore but Jensen gets my second place vote then Cannata who may be better than Lack and Schnieder.

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Jensen; our only prospect who appears to have 70 point potential plus NHL physical tools of size and speed.

Kassian; who appears to have 50 or 60 point potential + Intangibles. Could call first as most NHL ready?

Lack; Some have tabbed him a possible NHL all star, but most agree a sure fire NHL'er

Schroeder; possible 50 to 60 point guy, but may not make it due to size?

Connauton; possible power play specialist, plus middle weight nasty ala Bieksa!

Corrado. Has talent for Top 4, so ahead of some guys like Gaunce.

Gaunce; also appears sure fire, but projects no higher than 3rd line on most expectation lists?

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