Another minor roster trim this morning, as the Canucks have announced that 18-year-old goaltender David Honzik, their 3rd pick in the 2011 draft, has been reassigned to the Victoriaville Tigres. As usual, when a player is cut, PITB makes effort to explain the decision, and, just like yesterday’s cuts of Sawyer Hannay and Marc Anthony Zanetti, this one’s a no-brainer: Honzik isn’t ready for pro hockey.

Honzik started two games in Penticton’s YoungStars tournament, and he didn’t shine particularly brightly in either. In his first outing, he gave up six goals, several of the ugly variety. He looked shaky, out of sorts and, at times, over his head. In his second, he gave up another three, again looking uncertain and unconfident. He finished with a tournament-worst 6.35 goals against average and a save percentage of .809. Yuck.

It was impossible to miss the deflation in his body language during his time in the net, and frankly, it was probably kindness on the Canucks’ part not to expose him to another confidence-rattling start at the pro level.

That said, the Canucks were never planning to give him another pro start. Like Marc Anthony Zanetti, Honzik didn’t get brought to main camp because the organization thought he might compete for a spot anywhere; rather, he was invited back to Vancouver to get a little extra practice time, receive a few pointed criticisms, and be tasked with a handful of things to work on for next year by goaltending coach Rollie Melanson. The great thing for Honzik is, unlike Zanetti, he’s a draft pick, so he knows for certain that he’ll get a few more camps to show his stuff.

It’s reasonable to assume that Honzik will be a lot better next year, both because he’s still quite young and because he’s been trending upward for quite some time. It would be easy for Canuck fans to be down on Honzik’s selection, especially considering the poor showings he put in the two times they were able to finally see him, but  it wouldn’t be wise. Honzik has a great deal of raw potential and right now, all that we’ve seen is the rawness. Consider the following, from Canucks Army:

Before this season started, Honzik had never had real quality goalie coaching before in his life. So when you talk about “raw skilled goalies” – he is as raw as you can possibly get. For him to go from being this completely anonymous, raw skilled kid coming out the Czech Republic who really struggled in the first couple months of the season – he was a fish out of water on most nights – then getting that solid goalie coaching from Daniel Frechette, and for him to absorb all of this information that was thrown at him on a daily basis, and really push Antonio Mastropietro – who I personally think is a terrific goalie – then really take over and put it all together in the playoffs… well, that’s why Vancouver drafted him so high.

Honzik took his game to a totally different world from where he was to begin the season. And a lot of scouts will say – you take two goalies, one of them is really technically sound and plays really well, but then the other is completely raw skilled, but can compete as well as the goalie with the technically sound skill set – which one do you take? Well you take the one with the raw skill, because imagine how good he’ll be when he actually adds the technique to his game. And that was probably part of Vancouver’s thinking – look where he was to start the season, and look where he ended off – being one of the best Q goalies in the playoffs.

Honzik’s showings at the YoungStars tournament mirrored many of his early starts in Victoriaville, but by the time the season was over, he was one of the best goalies in the league. Sure, it wasn’t enough for him to be the Canucks’ MVP up in Penticton, but it was enough to convince the Canucks to draft him in the third round. If he continues to improve at the rate that got him drafted, he could still turn out to be very, very good.

Honzik will be tasked with improving on his form and technical movement; he’s still too much of a reaction goaltender for the Canucks’ liking. Heck, he’ll be the first to admit he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing yet. From Sportsnet, last June:

Even Honzik couldn’t always explain how the puck managed to stay out of the net on some shots.

“Sometimes I have luck because I’m pretty big in the net,” the 6-foot-2, 209-pounder said. “Pucks just hit me. Sometimes I don’t understand how (I) stop pucks too.”

Hopefully by next year he understands a little better.

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