Ossi Vaananen Posted May 14, 2017 Share Posted May 14, 2017 It seems the Province is doing a prospects countdown. I just stumbled upon their most recent, #6, which is Goldobin. I figured it was worth a thread to discuss their ratings and compare them to your own. So far: #10 - Jake Virtanen - http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/jake-virtanen #9 - Will Lockwood - http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/will-lockwood #8 - G. Brisebois - http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/guillaume-brisebois #7 - Jordan Subban - http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/canucks-top-10-prospects-jordan-subban #6 - Nikolai Goldobin -http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/canucks-top-10-prospects-nikolay-goldobin Quote here is an awkward truth to Vancouver GM Jim Benning’s comments this week. Everyone knew what he meant. The straight-shooting, plain talker disturbed overly sensitive types when he said he was looking for “North American heart” while scouting some European talent. Yes, it’s cliché and unfortunate, but in context, he was talking about skills transferring to smaller ice sheets in North America; it was both applicable and common. Were there better ways of saying it? Sure. He wouldn’t have triggered the snowflakes if he said his team was searching for talented Europeans who play a North American style. ‘He’s really smart’ It’s a mix, by the way, the Canucks are hoping to get out of Nikolay Goldobin in the fall. Goldobin is the playmaking winger with the wicked shot who ranks No. 6 in our ranking of the Canucks’ top 10 prospects. The 21-year-old Russian isn’t just gifted with offensive skills; he lusts after goals, which ensures he’s often in the spots where scorers have the most success: in and around the goal line and net. “He’s really smart,” Benning said. “His hockey sense is a real strength. “You saw that when he played with the Sedins. He can read off of them. He knows where to go for scoring chances. He understands where he needs to be to get the puck. “To me, he’s a pure goal-scorer.” Benning is probably underplaying Goldobin’s playmaking abilities here. He did have 26 assists in 46 AHL games before the Canucks traded Jannik Hansen to acquire him at the trade deadline. But “pure goal-scorer” is both a nice compliment, and something the Canucks desperately need. The Canucks scored the second-fewest goals in the past two seasons combined. In those two years, the Canucks have had just three players reach 20 goals and they each did it only once. That is not good. For the franchise, the offence is in fact historically awful, which is why Goldobin’s development is so important. It’s also why his relationship with new head coach Travis Green is going to be more scrutinized than the next time Benning is asked to break down some European prospects. VIDEO Getting offensive players to buy in and play with “North American heart” was massively important to Green during his four years in Utica. It meant some odd deployment choices, like long stretches where the “pure goal-scorer” of the day, Hunter Shinkaruk, was on the fourth line and not getting power-play chances. If, say, the same thing were to happen to Goldobin in Vancouver, it would be a huge, overbearing story. More well-rounded game And getting a more well-rounded, structured game out of Goldobin is going to be one of the Canucks’ — and Green’s — goals. “We’ve talked to him about it, and we’ve got to … he’s got to round out his game,” Benning said. “He needs a good summer to get physically stronger up top.” But there is a fine line here the Canucks are going to be riding, and they risked swinging too far in the wrong direction late last season when Goldobin was being publicly challenged to play grittier, notably by Brandon Sutter. The Canucks have lots of players who can spend their time focused on grit. Goldobin needs to score. The Canucks need Goldobin to score. He has skills very few in the current organization possess. “I think when people talk about him being grittier, it’s in the puck battles,” Benning said. “He needs to be stronger in those puck battles to use his skill and to make plays with the puck. “But he’s never going to be a guy who is going to get in on the forecheck and hit. That’s not the style of player he is. “He’s the kind of guy who can score and set up plays.” The kind of guy the Canucks have been short on for years. NIKOLAY GOLDOBIN Age: 21 Canucks Prospects Ranking: 6 Last season: He played 49 AHL games and scored 19 goals with 26 assists. With the Canucks, after the trade, Goldobin had three goals in 12 games. The skinny: How Travis Green works with Goldobin this season could be one of the year’s biggest stories. Green hasn’t shown much patience for defensively shy players. Goldobin was asked in his exit meetings to beef up and “round out” his game. Going to be interesting to see how this translates in the fall. The others are worth a read as well. I would have had Goldobin in the top 5 for sure. I guess the top 5 will be some mixture of Demko, Boeser, Dahlen, Gaudette, and Juolevi. Update: #5 - Adam Gaudette - http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/chapter-2 Quote L ess than two years ago, Adam Gaudette was a relatively unknown fifth-round draft pick, light on offensive production. But now he’s one of the Canucks’ most important prospects and his development is going to be one of the referendums on the Jim Benning era. Benning was recruited to Vancouver to be the general manager to rehabilitate the awful drafting that has haunted the Canucks for most of this century. The top picks will always get the most run but if Benning is going to be successful, and he needs to be to stick round, the Canucks have to hit on late- and mid-round draft selections. Gaudette is his, and the Canucks’, best chance and he slots in here as Vancouver’s No. 5 best prospect. Gaudette exploded this season for Northeastern, ranked ninth in Division 1 hockey with 52 points. What really got him noticed, however, was when he finished 40th. That would be on Craig Button’s list of the top 50 NHL affiliated players not yet playing in the big leagues. “Every team needs players to come out of the woodwork, so to speak,” said Button, TSN’s top prospect analyst. “I believe the Canucks have that guy in Adam Gaudette. He’s a competitor.” When Gaudette was taken 149th overall in 2015, he was both athletic and smart, but he was eighth in scoring on his own U.S. junior team with 30 points. For comparison, Brock Boeser, who played in the same league and was in the same draft class, had 68 points and led his team by 20. But that’s the difference between a first-round pick and a fifth. But even in the fifth round, there were smart people who thought the Canucks reached in picking Gaudette, who some thought was trending toward a checking line role. “It’s really hard to score at that level and Adam was a player where the physical maturity hadn’t really made inroads in his game,” Button said. “But he was a good offensive player. The numbers may not reflect it in the USHL, but he was. He has good hands, is a good playmaker and is always on the puck. He’s hungry. Now that he’s more physically mature, you can see that there’s more confidence to his game. “I’ll tell you what, he’s one of the very top players in the NCAA. He’s a real good player.” The Canucks need him to be that in the NHL. With the Canucks already having lost Nikita Tryamkin this off-season, Gaudette’s development has become critical to the future success of the team. They don’t have any other notable centres on this list of their 10 best prospects, underscoring how important he’s going to be after the Sedins retire. Gaudette returns to Northeastern this fall, but a year from now, the Canucks will be out to sign him to an entry-level deal with plans to bring him to Vancouver. Benning said Gaudette got up to 195 pounds this season. That’s something, because the 6-foot-1 centre weighed 170 pounds when he was drafted. “Our guys saw the potential in him,” Benning said. “His work rate is really high. He’s like a dog on a bone on the puck on the ice and off of it, he really works. He’s got a high energy level. As he’s got stronger, physically, he gained confidence in his offensive game.” The Canucks really liked the fit for Gaudette at Northeastern, where he got lots of opportunity to play on the power play as a freshman. “I know because my nephew went there (Matt Benning), they have a real good strength and conditioning program,” Benning said. “He wants to have a good summer again, and put on more weight and strength.” It’s entirely possible that Gaudette is playing games with the Canucks to start the 2018-19 season. “Because the details in his game are so good and his work rate so high, he could start off (in the NHL) on a fourth line, a sort of energy guy,” Benning said. “He can play that role and work his way up. He has an excellent shot and he’s got some good offensive instincts around the net.” Yes, the Canucks would use that on their fourth line. And the third, and the second too. Name: Adam Gaudette Age: 20 Canucks Prospects Ranking: 5 Last season: He played 37 NCAA games and put 52 points good for ninth overall in the best college hockey league in the United States. The skinny: The Canucks need a hit with Gaudette. Benning is the scout-turned-general manager and is expected to find the franchise some mid-to-late round gems. Gaudette is not there yet, but he can be that. #4 - Thatcher Demko - http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/thatcher-demko Quote onnor Hellebuyck is the best college goalie there ever was. He has the record for career save percentage and could, if he was so inclined, line an office with all the awards he won. The Winnipeg Jets drafted him five years ago. And two years ago, he debuted as a pro and then started really blowing up. He was an AHL All-Star Classic and led the minor league with 58 games played in his rookie season. When that was over, he guided a young Team USA to a bronze-medal performance at the world championship. He looked like the truth, and the smartest people in the goalie community were telling people he was the real deal, and had just about everything going for him. Jets fans were going bananas. They wanted him starting in the National Hockey League, like yesterday. The Jets instead split his next season between the minors and spot duty in the NHL. It went well, really well. This fall he seemed ready for the next step. Until he wasn’t. After a nice start, things went sideways. It led to a two-week mental break in January, and people believing he was rushed. All of this works as a cautionary tale in Vancouver, where the Canucks will be trying to transition their No. 4-ranked prospect, Thatcher Demko, from NCAA star to productive minor-league goalie to NHL bonafide No. 1 status. How long will it take? Well, don’t expect him to arrive anytime soon, but that question promises to be one of the biggest of the Jim Benning era. “We are excited about his future but we need to be patient with him,” Benning said. “We don’t want to rush him because he is an important guy. “With young goalies, the last thing you want to do is get them up here and get them going before they’re ready, and then have them lose confidence. We’re going to do the right thing by him because we feel so strongly about him as a player.” There are those around the team who believe he may need two more full years in the AHL to be ready, maybe with some NHL experience sprinkled in. It basically would mean a three-year minor-league apprenticeship, which is exactly how Cory Schneider was developed. “My theory on goalies is that you don’t really know what you have until they are 26 or 27,” Benning said. “He came a long way this year, but we’re not going to put him in situations where he could lose confidence and doesn’t keep developing.” Demko’s results were mixed this season in Utica, where he finished with a .907 save percentage, second on his team behind Comets running mate Richard Bachman, who posted a .908 save percentage. But Demko got better as the season went on and had two great runs. Coincidentally or not, both unfolded when he was head coach Travis Green’s only real option — one time when Bachman was hurt, and the other with Bachman in the NHL on recall. The second run was the most impressive, a 17-game stretch during which he went 13-4 with a .933 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against average. The run ended with a two-game stretch when he was beat for 10 goals. “We do think he’s a guy who we can develop into a No. 1 goalie,” Benning said. “These kids coming out of college or junior have a learning experience in the AHL. He adjusted quickly, though. Halfway through the season, there was a difference. “In that (late-season run), he was one of the main reasons why (Utica) got on that streak.” The handling of Jacob Markstrom is a good indicator of just how patient Benning is with his goalies. Heck, Markstrom is 27 and the Canucks still aren’t ready to give him a shot at No. 1, as they’ve been very vocal about their desire to re-sign Ryan Miller. That Miller contract has the chance to be telling. There’s just not going to be a lot of interest for the soon-to-be-37 goalie, and the Canucks are in a position to bring him back on a one-year deal. If it’s a two-year deal, however, it will be a strong suggestion as to how much seasoning Demko still needs in the minors before he’s deemed ready for his big chance. THATCHER DEMKO Age: 21 Canucks Prospects Ranking: 4 Last season: Demko got to play a lot, getting into 45 games, and he nearly helped lead Utica to the playoffs. But when the AHL season ended, he had a .907 save percentage, which makes it a mixed-bag season. The skinny: The good news for the Canucks is they are in position to wait as long as it takes for Demko to be ready. It could be another two years. He’s a great prospect but even then he may not be ready to be an NHL starter. #3 - Olli Juolevi - http://theprovince.com/feature/canucks-top-10-prospects-2017/canucks-top-10-prospects-olli-juolevi Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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