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1 hour ago, Fred65 said:

Actually Rafferty played two games in the NHL, both at home and I watched both. Let's put it this way, he stood out. The game prior to Rafferty they gave Tevis a game and he looked below average, I watched that game too. a couple of shifts he played alongside Hughes and there was instant sympatico

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There appears to be an expectation among followers of the Vancouver Canucks that this upcoming off-season will present some vacancies throughout the team’s defence corps. Chris Tanev and Oscar Fantenberg are pending unrestricted free agents, while Troy Stecher is slated to become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 National Hockey League campaign.

 

Much discussion has revolved around the future of Tanev, Fantenbeg and Stecher in Vancouver with the common conclusion being that salary cap constraints will force difficult decisions with regards to their status as members of the team. This has been expedited by the recent expressions of interest from the 6’7’’ former Canucks defenceman Nikita Tryamkin about a potential return to the roster as well as the emergence of 2019 college free agent signing Brogan Rafferty as one of the Utica Comets’ best players this past season. Rafferty, in particular, was one of the Comets’ American Hockey League All-Star Game representatives in 2019-20, joining the team’s offensive leader, Reid Boucher, at the event.

 

The 24-year-old Rafferty was Utica’s most important blue liner in 2019-20. He was third among all AHL defencemen in league-wide scoring with seven goals and 45 points in 57 games, three points behind the lead held by Carolina Hurricanes prospect Jake Bean. Also of note was that he was four and six points ahead of former Canucks Adam Clendening and Derrick Pouliot, respectively, in the AHL scoring race. No other Utica defenceman was anywhere near as prolific as Rafferty this season; the second-highest scorer on the team among defenders this season was Olli Juolevi with two goals and 25 points in 45 games.

 

One of the most pressing questions concerns the potential for either Tryamkin or Rafferty to become adequate replacements for the possibly-outgoing defencemen. In a previous article, we looked at Nikita Tryamkin’s performance this season in the Kontinental Hockey League and offered a sample of recent footage. To provide an idea of the type of game that Rafferty plays, we have an opportunity today to examine his American Hockey League performance on March 4, 2020 against the Buffalo Sabres’ farm team, the Rochester Americans.

Brogan Rafferty is, in basic terms, a utility defenceman whose style is unspectacular and whose offensive game, while spirited, is prone to mistakes, is less about playmaking and is more about puck support off the rush. He utilizes body positioning and stick checking in his own zone to free the puck from the opponent in the corners and behind the net. Once the puck moves back up the ice, he does not hesitate to join the rush. However, he is not a puck rusher or a smooth-skating carrier, so one can not expect him to freewheel with the puck. He supports his teammates’ attack with offensive zone pinches and by providing them with an additional option down low when they make an aggressive push towards the opposition’s goal line.

 

Offensively, his vision is unlikely to make him a prolific contributor at the National Hockey League level. Upon retrieving the puck, he is not often immediate with his passes to teammates, hesitating and delaying his distribution attempt momentarily upon gaining possession. His passes to teammates are not always crisp nor quick, and he is much more successful making simpler plays to either his defence partner or a forward nearby. In the majority of cases upon gathering the puck in his own zone, he opts to lob the puck out of the zone in an effort to escape a potentially-dangerous defensive situation. He is not a creative or speedy distributor with the puck on his stick, hence his playmaking contributions may be limited in the NHL.

 

Nonetheless, he often joins the rush. This sometimes leads to positive outcomes, as he likes to carry the puck into the corners of the offensive zone before attempting to center it into the slot or passing to an open teammate along the perimeter to establish a sustained forecheck. Occasionally, he will connect with a teammate in the middle, although sometimes this is an errant maneuver that gives the opponent an opportunity to counter with an odd-man rush.

 

The offensive elements of Rafferty’s game are not executed with a particularly high rate of success. To compound this issue, he lacks a dangerous shot from the point and has only ever scored a handful of goals per season throughout his career. His seven goals this season with Utica was his highest single-season output dating back to his time in junior hockey.

In his own zone, Brogan Rafferty is more comfortable. He is fleet-footed enough not to allow the opponent to gain the inside of the ice, and he generally keeps the opposing attacker to the perimeter. Once the opponent takes the puck behind his own goal line, he is often present to provide pressure. He separates the carrier from the puck in this manner, using his stick to fight for possession or relying on a teammate to gather the loose puck afterward. He does not possess the physical attributes of Nikita Tryamkin, but plays a relatively stable, active game in his own zone.

 

At 6’2’’, 195 lbs, he is not a small defender, but he lacks a physical dimension.

He can also be beaten wide at the blue line if the opponent possesses enough speed. He can be caught flat-footed and requires some defensive support while defending against oncoming rushes. There are numerous moments in our footage in which he allows the opponent to fly past him with the puck, placing his teammates and especially his goaltender in a difficult position. Canucks fans are attuned to witnessing a high number of defensive lapses by the Canucks resulting in dangerous opportunities against. This trend is unlikely to change with Brogan Rafferty on the roster.

 

He played two games with the Canucks in 2018-19 and, if he does not secure a full-time position with the club, will certainly see some time next season as a call-up. One hopes that additional NHL experience can help to reinforce the reliable aspects of his game and mitigate his more dangerous tendencies. His play is, at the moment, still on the fringes of NHL quality.

He is an inexpensive replacement on the team’s blue line — his $700,000 AAV contract expires in 2021 —, but expectations must be kept in check. He is unlikely to improve the team’s defence corps in its immediate future.

 

If there is one fair objective for Rafferty next season, it might be to provide sufficient bottom-pairing play so that the organization may reallocate a higher degree of its payroll to the improvement of other aspects of its roster. The Canucks are on the cusp of becoming a playoff team and require upgrades on defence in order to become a legitimately-competitive squad. Despite this, the team also needs to consider, for example, re-signing Tyler Toffoli and conserving cap space to retain its youngest stars.

 

Brogan Rafferty will not change the look of the team’s defence, as he plays a style that is reminiscent of the type of game offered by the Canucks’ current defenders. He may be a sufficient seventh defenceman next season with some remaining potential to grow as a player.

Unlike Nikita Tryamkin, he will not provide the team with a change of pace on its back end. Based on the team’s current salary cap circumstances, however, there may be room for not one, but two fresh faces among the Canucks’ blue liners.

 

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I don't know who wrote the report ( that would help ) but the fact he was the Utica most prolific D'man, his status as an AHL All-Star and his positive +/- seems to suggest that much of the report lacks accuracy. He may not be perfect but he's the closest we have. Tryamkin may offer a  different dimension but the combination of Raffertys offence and Tryamkins physicality is rarely found in the same player. Tryamkin has played in the NHL and people can say what they may but I didn't see unsurmountable problems in his game. In both cases we may be talking a #6 or 7 D and if coaches can't handle that then maybe we need a new defensive coach. When vewing defensemen perfection is preferred but rarely, rarely found. Some of the decissions I suspect will have more to do with Cap restraints than any thing

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The writer seems pretty familiar with the player to be so confident in their assessment. We will see if his offensive creativity and opportunistic forays on the rush make up for how prone he may be for giveaways. We don't need any more pizza-men making deliveries up the middle.

 

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5 hours ago, Fred65 said:

I don't know who wrote the report ( that would help ) but the fact he was the Utica most prolific D'man, his status as an AHL All-Star and his positive +/- seems to suggest that much of the report lacks accuracy. He may not be perfect but he's the closest we have. Tryamkin may offer a  different dimension but the combination of Raffertys offence and Tryamkins physicality is rarely found in the same player. Tryamkin has played in the NHL and people can say what they may but I didn't see unsurmountable problems in his game. In both cases we may be talking a #6 or 7 D and if coaches can't handle that then maybe we need a new defensive coach. When vewing defensemen perfection is preferred but rarely, rarely found. Some of the decissions I suspect will have more to do with Cap restraints than any thing

CambieKev(Kevin Wong). He watches a lot of Canucks prospects and makes a lot of those types of videos for prospects/players. IMO he's got a good opinion on our prospects he watches.

 

I am sure we can appreciate the video editing he does on our guys like this beauty.

 

 

It helps us get a better look and feel for our prospects.

 

In his own words on his youtube channel.

 

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I'm a video editor, hockey writer, historian, scout and analyst. I write for Nucks Misconduct, Last Word On Hockey, Pass It To Bulis, and Dobber Prospects. This is the home of my video content, including The Lost Shifts series. I am @CambieKev on Twitter.

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That's very interesting. You some times wonder who are these journalists and if they were exalted scouts why don't they work within the NHL on some team or another. We all have an opinion but that doesn't mean it counts for any thing. One thing I like for sure is when you offer and assessment to a group of fellow hockey people they often see many things you are missing  .... that's why teams  have meetings :)

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I think Cambie Kev’s criticisms are fair, when it comes to Rafferty. However, while he writes for Last Word on Hockey, he’s certainly not the last word on hockey. It’s true that, most likely, Rafferty projects as a depth/utility defenceman. However, he’s only one season into his professional career, and a very successful rookie season at that. He may yet show another level to his play. He’s an older prospect, so you don’t expect much of a development curve at this stage, but the D position is also one that takes some time to learn, and it’s possible he may yet iron out aspects of his game that currently appear limiting, and reach a higher ceiling than expected. He definitely wouldn’t be the the first NHL Dman to shatter his expected ceiling and find a higher gear through his mid-to-late twenties and beyond. It’s not something you bet on, but you also can’t rule it out. The first step is him earning a spot in the NHL lineup. Then, we can see what he makes of his opportunity.

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3 hours ago, SID.IS.SID.ME.IS.ME said:

I think Cambie Kev’s criticisms are fair, when it comes to Rafferty. However, while he writes for Last Word on Hockey, he’s certainly not the last word on hockey. It’s true that, most likely, Rafferty projects as a depth/utility defenceman. However, he’s only one season into his professional career, and a very successful rookie season at that. He may yet show another level to his play. He’s an older prospect, so you don’t expect much of a development curve at this stage, but the D position is also one that takes some time to learn, and it’s possible he may yet iron out aspects of his game that currently appear limiting, and reach a higher ceiling than expected. He definitely wouldn’t be the the first NHL Dman to shatter his expected ceiling and find a higher gear through his mid-to-late twenties and beyond. It’s not something you bet on, but you also can’t rule it out. The first step is him earning a spot in the NHL lineup. Then, we can see what he makes of his opportunity.

As the roster looks right now he'll likely have the opportunity to prove himself. 6th/7th/8th D spots are there for the taking.

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9 hours ago, SID.IS.SID.ME.IS.ME said:

I think Cambie Kev’s criticisms are fair, when it comes to Rafferty. However, while he writes for Last Word on Hockey, he’s certainly not the last word on hockey. It’s true that, most likely, Rafferty projects as a depth/utility defenceman. However, he’s only one season into his professional career, and a very successful rookie season at that. He may yet show another level to his play. He’s an older prospect, so you don’t expect much of a development curve at this stage, but the D position is also one that takes some time to learn, and it’s possible he may yet iron out aspects of his game that currently appear limiting, and reach a higher ceiling than expected. He definitely wouldn’t be the the first NHL Dman to shatter his expected ceiling and find a higher gear through his mid-to-late twenties and beyond. It’s not something you bet on, but you also can’t rule it out. The first step is him earning a spot in the NHL lineup. Then, we can see what he makes of his opportunity.

To me the question with Rafferty is not so much about development as it is about translation.  He is 25 Years old and coming off a ridiculous AHL season last year.  I don't really expect to see too much change in who is as a player, at 25 he is more  or less what he is.  To me the big question is will his success in the AHL translate across to the NHL where players are bigger, stringer, faster.  I have my doubts about how his game will work, but it will be very interesting to watch how it plays out.

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6 hours ago, Junkyard Dog said:

As the roster looks right now he'll likely have the opportunity to prove himself. 6th/7th/8th D spots are there for the taking.

Heck, I'd even include 5th at this point (barring the Hainsey, Hamonic etc signing many of us are hoping for).

 

 

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10 hours ago, Junkyard Dog said:

As the roster looks right now he'll likely have the opportunity to prove himself. 6th/7th/8th D spots are there for the taking.

On one hand, I agree - there seems to be spots for the taking for those interested in earning them on the d-core.

 

On the other hand, we've seen this before with many players who are placed into vacant spots on the team even though they aren't necessarily suited for those particular spots, and then we wonder why they don't succeed?

 

Yes, I know there are many moving parts, and JB/Green know what they're doing.  All I'm saying is there needs to be consideration of what type of player we're talking about and what is expected of a defenceman in the 6/7/8 depth position.  Rafferty is, by all accounts, an offensive PMD who put up borderline league leading offensive numbers for a defenceman in the AHL and typically your 6/7/8 d-men in the NHL are grinders who's only job is not to get scored on in their limited ice-time.    Are those two roles compatible - perhaps they are, and as mentioned his game will need to 'translate' forcing Rafferty to adapt his style of play to make the next level?  All I'm saying is there needs to be some consideration. 

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37 minutes ago, Fanuck said:

On one hand, I agree - there seems to be spots for the taking for those interested in earning them on the d-core.

 

On the other hand, we've seen this before with many players who are placed into vacant spots on the team even though they aren't necessarily suited for those particular spots, and then we wonder why they don't succeed?

 

Yes, I know there are many moving parts, and JB/Green know what they're doing.  All I'm saying is there needs to be consideration of what type of player we're talking about and what is expected of a defenceman in the 6/7/8 depth position.  Rafferty is, by all accounts, an offensive PMD who put up borderline league leading offensive numbers for a defenceman in the AHL and typically your 6/7/8 d-men in the NHL are grinders who's only job is not to get scored on in their limited ice-time.    Are those two roles compatible - perhaps they are, and as mentioned his game will need to 'translate' forcing Rafferty to adapt his style of play to make the next level?  All I'm saying is there needs to be some consideration. 

I don’t see it that way. 
 

It isn’t like your bottom 6 where you have to be a grinder or fit a certain role. You just have to be competent and reliable. 
 

OJ is probably gonna be starting there this season. He is not a muck and grinder. Rathbone isn’t either and he’d likely start on the bottom pairing when he joins as well. 

 

Defense is governed by who’s better overall and secondary who’s a good fit given who you already have.  Whoever is better will get more ice time. If you have a top 4 full of defensive players then you might lean more so offensive. 
 

If Rafferty joins the team he could likely take PP2 duties freeing up Myers to be utilized more defensively. Have to remember we lost Tanev and his responsibility will have to be replaced. 
 

Can’t expect any of the young D to be gifted ice time when they start. They gotta earn it. 

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42 minutes ago, SID.IS.SID.ME.IS.ME said:

I agree that we’re unlikely to see much further “development” from Rafferty, given his age. However, it is possible to see some improvements, beyond just hoping to translate his current AHL game to the NHL. The quality of a player’s shot can always be improved (it’s something many guys never stop working on), and Rafferty would be a more dangerous player with a better shot. Physical play also can be improved. And you do often see players becoming more physical as they move into the back half of their 20’s. Possibly even more so with a late bloomer like Rafferty. Elements like vision and creativity aren’t likely to improve much at this point, but you can see some progress with decision making as players gain seasoning and experience. So some of what might appear to be limitations to Rafferty’s playmaking, may actually be more comfort/familiarity related and adjusting to the pro game (where he’s only had one season). It’s possible he might still show a little more playmaking ability than he has to-date in the pros.

 

I’m not saying that I expect massive gains in any of these areas. Just that there’s still a window where we might see some improvements from Rafferty. If he was a 25 year old first round pick, already with 5+ seasons in the AHL/NHL, and who’s played D since he could skate, I’d be more likely to say “he is what he is.” But he’s a 25 year old late bloomer, who only started playing D in his late teens, and who’s only one season into his pro career. So I’m more hesitant to say he’s fully “cooked” at this point. He may still prove to be more than just a depth player (although that’s still where I’d project him right now).

 

The defenceman position is also one with a steep learning curve. A guy can play D from age 4 to 44, and never stop making incremental changes and improvements to his game. There’s always something to work on, tweak, and improve. Maybe not all, but certainly some, of the current “limiting” factors and elements in Rafferty’s game are areas where improvement is still possible. So I’m willing to take a “wait and see” approach before setting a ceiling for him, especially given his rather unusual history and path to the pros (late bloomer, late growth spurt, late position change, overcoming health issues like scoliosis and amblyopia, etc). 

Very well said.

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57 minutes ago, BCNate said:

Very well said.

I'd agree with that. One thing that does chnage IMO with promotion to the NHL is watching, learning, and practising with the vets can change out looks and tricks of the trade. The number of times you hear prospects say for instance I thought I was in good shape ... but had to take it to a new level when I reached the NHL. The thing with Rafferty is he has fundamentally crashed the barrier of what he can do in the AHL. If he doesn't make the next leap they may as well move him, there's nothing more he can do in Utica. He's showing others in Utica not the opposite. I assume that point has been made by his agent, he wants a chnace at the big $$ and rightly so he has a shelf life and he's in his mid twenties already. The best thng for Rafferty is come to cam in great shape and with a winning attitude

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On 11/17/2020 at 8:01 PM, Fred65 said:

I don't know who wrote the report ( that would help ) but the fact he was the Utica most prolific D'man, his status as an AHL All-Star and his positive +/- seems to suggest that much of the report lacks accuracy. He may not be perfect but he's the closest we have. Tryamkin may offer a  different dimension but the combination of Raffertys offence and Tryamkins physicality is rarely found in the same player. Tryamkin has played in the NHL and people can say what they may but I didn't see unsurmountable problems in his game. In both cases we may be talking a #6 or 7 D and if coaches can't handle that then maybe we need a new defensive coach. When vewing defensemen perfection is preferred but rarely, rarely found. Some of the decissions I suspect will have more to do with Cap restraints than any thing

Well Craig Button, who credibility is unquestionable, wrote an article very early this year that said Rafferty is ready for NHL top four duty right now.   This is the problem with the internet and any average amateur writer decided to open up a blog.   Conflicting data everywhere.  
 

I’d rather take my information from THN, Bob McKenzie and Craig Button.  Not they can’t watch every game - but they rely on the folks that do and actual pro scouts to gather their information.   He has to be something right that’s for certain.  

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2 hours ago, IBatch said:

Well Craig Button, who credibility is unquestionable, wrote an article very early this year that said Rafferty is ready for NHL top four duty right now.   This is the problem with the internet and any average amateur writer decided to open up a blog.   Conflicting data everywhere.  
 

I’d rather take my information from THN, Bob McKenzie and Craig Button.  Not they can’t watch every game - but they rely on the folks that do and actual pro scouts to gather their information.   He has to be something right that’s for certain.  

Yeah me too. I respect much of what Button says ( remember Button said Virtanen was a second round pick ) but each time I listen to Button he seems to make sense and doesn't use  weasel words.  McKenzie I don't believe played hockey but he has rubbed shoulder with a lot of GM's Scouts and players and has gathered a lot of information during a long career and again seems good at his job. As to Rafferty as I've stated i watched his two games at Rogers and he shone from the begining. He may have flaws bit oun the two games I watched he didn't show them

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30 minutes ago, Fred65 said:

Yeah me too. I respect much of what Button says ( remember Button said Virtanen was a second round pick ) but each time I listen to Button he seems to make sense and doesn't use  weasel words.  McKenzie I don't believe played hockey but he has rubbed shoulder with a lot of GM's Scouts and players and has gathered a lot of information during a long career and again seems good at his job. As to Rafferty as I've stated i watched his two games at Rogers and he shone from the begining. He may have flaws bit oun the two games I watched he didn't show them

I’m pretty comfortable that Stecher will be replaced internally, and that it’s very possibly going to turn into an upgrade fast.    Rathbone is also going to push OJ hard on the left side.   He offers more of what QHs and Schmidt and to a certain degree Myers too which is clean zone exits and entries with superb/sublime skating ability.    He’s a gamer and is going to camp to win a job not just participate.   Rafferty  for sure has his supporters in the scouting community too...

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On 11/17/2020 at 1:42 PM, Fred65 said:

Actually Rafferty played two games in the NHL, both at home and I watched both. Let's put it this way, he stood out. The game prior to Rafferty they gave Tevis a game and he looked below average, I watched that game too. a couple of shifts he played alongside Hughes and there was instant sympatico

True this. What I noted and enjoyed in those two games was that Rafferty got better each shift, he played with Hughes in the third period of his second game. There were a couple of shifts where he and Hughes looked like the defence version of the Sedins - they read each other like they had a psychic connection. Two guys, both elite skaters, who think offence at another level. Just a taste, to be sure - a magical moment. That kind of chemistry, in the NHL, can appear and disappear in a heartbeat, just as soon as the best players and their coaches analyze and neutralize it. But there are times when those connections persist - more often among forwards, much more rarely on D - especially pairings where the D are both elite attackers. The last time we saw that in Vancouver was when Vigneault paired Edler with Ehrhoff and both were at the peak of their offensive game. Yeah, I know, wishful thinking, no doubt. Amazingly, another team has a similar promising situation, at the same time - Makar and Byron.

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