While everyone else is eagerly anticipating July 1 and the start of Free Agent Frenzy, I’m looking a little further ahead. To be quite honest, I can’t be bothered to speculate too much about what free agents might sign where. Most of the rumours and rosterbating ends up wildly inaccurate, so why bother worrying about it? I certainly have my own ideas about what players I would like to see in a Canucks uniform, but I have no control over the matter whatsoever.
Instead, I’m looking forward to the opening of the prospect development camp. For most people, the development camp is the first chance to see the Canucks most recent draft picks and compare them with prospects already in the system. While this is certainly a highlight, my favorite part of the development camp and, later in the summer, the opening of training camp, is getting to see all of the un-signed and un-drafted players who are invited to the camp. There’s always a bit of intrigue about these players: who are they? Why weren’t they drafted? Will they sign with the Canucks?
Last year, I researched the invitees using the magic of Google and collated my findings in an epic two-part saga entitled “The Invitees.” Then, when they returned for training camp, they brought along three new invitees. Now, a year later, I am curious about what happened to these players. None of them signed with the Canucks, though Harrison and I thought Pierre-Olivier Morin and Matt Fraser both performed well enough to earn one, so where did they go in the 2010-11 season and how did they do?
Some disappointed, some excelled. Some earned contracts with other teams. Will any of them return for the Canucks development camp this summer? Here are 8 of the 16 invitees to last year’s training camps with the team(s) they played for in 2010-11, how they performed, and what they are currently up to. Look for part two with the remaining 8 on Saturday.
Maury Edwards – Defence
5’11” – 174 lbs – Mar 16, 1987
Rocky Rapids, AB
UMass-Lowell/Providence Bruins/Lake Erie Monsters
Edwards was the oldest player at the Canucks’ prospect camp in 2010 and returned to university for his senior year, where he was an alternate captain for the Riverhawks. The team finished a disappointing last place in the Hockey East division of the NCAA, as Edwards posted only 16 points in 34 games. It was yet another step backwards for Edwards after his excellent sophomore year, when he scored 29 points in 38 games and was key to the Riverhawks powerplay, which he followed up with a 15-point junior year. After his NCAA season was over, he earned a tryout with the Providence Bruins of the AHL before signing an amateur tryout deal with the Lake Erie Monsters. It is uncertain whether he will play for either team in 2011-12.
Brendan Ellis – Defence
6’3″ – 207 lbs – Jan 5, 1989
The solidly built Ellis had a solid freshman year with Merrimack, scoring 16 points in 39 games. It’s important to keep in mind, of course, that he was a 22-year-old freshman. Ellis played with Canucks goaltending prospect Joe Cannata at Merrimack, helping the Warriors to their best season in school history. It all fell apart, unfortunately, as they lost a berth in the Elite Eight to Notre Dame in overtime. The tying goal was scored off a turnover by Ellis as he attempted to pass a rebound back to Cannata. Ellis will be attending the San Jose Sharks development camp this summer, but will likely return to Merrimack on his scholarship.
Taylor Fedun – Defence
6’1″ – 210 lbs – Jun 4, 1988
For the second season in a row, Fedun led all Princeton defensemen in scoring. The captain of the Tigers notched 10 goals, 7 more than his previous season, and added 12 assists for a total of 22 points in 29 games. This was enough to convince his hometown Edmonton Oilers to sign Fedun to a two-year deal. He also signed an amateur tryout contract with their AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons, but did not appear in any games before returning to Princeton to finish his degree. Random fact: his senior project for his thesis was building a one-man personal hovercraft.
David Fischer – Defence
6’3″ – 203 lbs – Feb 19, 1988
Apple Valley, MN
The former first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens has stumbled right out of the NHL system. The University of Minnesota graduate signed with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL after not receiving a contract from the Canucks training camp. He put up 29 points in 63 games in his first year of professional hockey and had a +12 plus/minus rating. At 23, the former US High School standout has a long road to making it to the NHL, but has no intention of giving up.
Kris Fredheim – Defence
6’2″ – 195 lbs – Feb 23, 1987
Campbell River, BC
After being released from Canucks training camp last September, Fredheim was expected to head to the (now non-existent) Victoria Salmon-Kings, the Canucks ECHL affiliate, with whom he had signed a contract after graduating from Colorado College. Fredheim had appeared in 5 playoff games with the Salmon-Kings and had not received an invitation to the Manitoba Moose training camp. Instead, Fredheim headed off to Houston, where he made the Aeros out of camp, scoring 9 points in 66 games with a +3 plus/minus in his first year in the AHL. If Fredheim can catch the attention of the Minnesota Wild while playing for their affiliate, he’ll face much less of a logjam of defensemen in their system than he faced with the Canucks.
Kevan Miller – Defence
6’2″ – 201 lbs – Nov 15, 1987
Los Angeles, CA
University of Vermont/Providence Bruins
In his second year as captain of the Catamounts, Miller had a career low 4 points, though he missed a number of games due to injury. Scoring isn’t his specialty, though, as he focuses mainly on his defensive game and was one of only two players on his team with a positive plus/minus rating in a difficult season for the Catamounts. The Providence Bruins saw enough to offer him an amateur tryout contract and he appeared in 6 games with the team, recording a +2 rating and 9 penalty minutes.
Kevin Clark – Right Wing
5’9″ – 172 lbs – Dec 29, 1987
The native of Winnipeg is still signed with the Manitoba Moose organization, which is now heading east to St. John’s. He recorded 14 points in 43 regular season games and added 6 more in 11 playoff games. He also drastically cut back his penalty minutes from his years in college hockey, recording only 22 penalty minutes in his rookie season with the Moose after 89 with the University of Alaska-Anchorage in fewer games the previous year. The native of Winnipeg would surely love to grab the attention of the Jets, but will need a much similar offensive numbers to his college years to overcome his lack of size.
Jack Downing – Right Wing
6’3″ – 201 lbs – Mar 16, 1989
New Canaan, CT
University of Vermont
In his senior year with the Catamounts, Downing set a career high with 13 goals in 36 games, leading the team in goalscoring, but only added 5 assists to finish below his Junior year numbers with only 18 total points. In a disappointing season for the Catamounts, however, he took on a larger leadership role as an alternate captain under Kevan Miller, playing with a lot of emotion. These intangibles combined with his size and shot are assets that a lot of teams would love to have in their lineups, but he has yet to sign a professional contract.
Tags: Invitees, Prospects