The 2012 Development Camp Invitees: Forwards (Part 1)

The Canucks prospect development camp is in full swing and has plenty of coverage, including photo galleries, Frankie Corrado’s blog, and reports from Derek Jory. But they’re mainly focussed on the prospects at camp that are already in the Canucks system, and for good reason. But I want to know about everyone else: the undrafted and unsigned players. The invitees.

There are almost as many invitee forwards at this year’s camp as there were total invitees last year. Are the Canucks casting a wider net and hoping that out of the quantity will come quality? Are any of these undrafted and unsigned prospects future Canucks?

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The 2012 Development Camp Invitees: Goaltenders

Longtime Bulies will know that my favourite part of prospect camps is looking into the unsigned and undrafted invitees and seeing where they came from. The prospects that are already in the Canucks system are, to a certain extent, known quantities. Thanks to extensive draft coverage in the media, interviews and features on, and the frenetic googling of thousands of fans, we know a decent amount about each of them.

There is a mystery, however, surrounding camp invitees that makes them extremely interesting to me. While NHL scouting is excellent, plenty of players have made it to the NHL without being drafted, with Alex Burrows being a well-known example to Canucks fans. Maybe, just maybe, one of these invitees slipped through the cracks and is a diamond in the rough, just waiting to be shaped into a beautiful jewel.

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Cory Schneider re-ups with Canucks for 3 years, $12 million

Mike Gillis may have a Twitter account, but he’s not exactly active. Prior to today, he hadn’t tweeted for 5 months. Before that, there was a 4-month gap. His tweets are generally perfunctory, safe, and uninteresting. While he promised to be “active and update every few days” with his first tweet back on November 10, 2010, he has a grand total of 53 tweets in over one and a half years.

His Twitter account isn’t exactly a must-follow, is what I’m saying. But today he had something interesting to say that every Canucks fan wanted to hear: the Canucks and Cory Schneider have agreed to a new contract.

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Canucks prospect development camp opens today

Yesterday, NHL hopefuls from around the world (aka. North America and Sweden) arrived in Vancouver to take part in the Canucks’ annual prospect development camp. A total of 35 prospects are expected to attend the camp that runs from today, June 28th, until July 1st. As in previous years, the camp will include dragon boating at False Creek and a race up the Grouse Grind.

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Spitballin’ on Arniel hiring, departing free agents, and hipster Sedins

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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Pavel Bure is finally inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame, unnecessary drama ensues

After 6 years of being snubbed by the induction committee, Pavel Bure is finally getting his due from the Hockey Hall of Fame. He joins Joe Sakic, Adam Oates, and Mats Sundin as the class of 2012, which makes me desperately hope that Bure’s portion of the ceremony comes before Sundin’s so that no one can say that Sundin was the first Canuck inducted into the HHOF on a technicality. Before you ask, Mark Messier never played for the Canucks; I don’t know who keeps spreading that myth, but it’s about time debunked it.

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Reports and rumours: really, what’s the difference?

After the NHL Draft came and went without a Roberto Luongo trade, the waters were temporarily calm on that front. Then came Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch to create some waves Monday morning by claiming that Luongo had invoked his No Trade Clause to avoid being traded to the Blackhawks or the Leafs and that his preferred location was a return to the Florida Panthers.

Needles to say, this caused what is known in technical terms as a kerfuffle.

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NHL Entry Draft Journal, Day 2: Gillis on draft strategy

Thomas Drance is in Pittsburgh covering the NHL entry draft for Pass it to Bulis. We told him that if he doesn’t get us at least one sexy scoop, he will be whipped when he returns, so he’s doing it journal-style, touching on a bunch of topics really quickly in the hopes that something he files will appease our irrational demands and spare him a flogging.

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Canucks skew older in the 2012 NHL Draft

After making a safe pick in the first round with International Scouting Services top-ranked centre Brendan Gaunce, the Canucks went off the board with their second round pick, taking 20-year-old winger Alexandre Mallet from the Rimouski Océanic. Mallet wasn’t on anyone’s draft rankings because of his age and he had already passed through the draft twice.

The Canucks didn’t pick again until the fifth round and took 19-year-old defenceman Ben Hutton, who had passed through the draft once already and was ranked 200th among North American skaters by Central Scouting. Then, in the sixth round, they picked another 19-year-old, BCHL centre Wesley Myron, who was also in his second year of eligibility. Finally, in the seventh round, they picked one more 19-year-old, Matthew Beattie, who was actually ranked 108th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.

Picking older players in the draft is frequently frowned upon, as they usually passed through the draft for a reason, but such players might also be ready to contribute in the NHL sooner than a 17 or 18-year-old. The Canucks have picked several older players under Gillis, including Alexandre Grenier, Henrik Tommernes, and Alex Friesen. While there is plenty of risk in picking players who haven’t stood out until they are older than much of their competition, there is also the potential for finding a market inefficiency, as other teams tend to overlook such players.

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NHL Entry Draft Journal, Day 1: Canucks get Gaunce

Thomas Drance is in Pittsburgh covering the NHL entry draft for Pass it to Bulis. We told him that if he doesn’t get us at least one sexy scoop, he will be whipped when he returns, so he’s doing it journal-style, touching on a bunch of topics really quickly in the hopes that something he files will appease our irrational demands and spare him a flogging.

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So, who the heck is Brendan Gaunce?

With the 26th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Vancouver Canucks selected Belleville Bulls centre Brendan Gaunce, leading to a frenzy of googling, as Canucks fans tried to decide for themselves whether Mike Gillis should have a statue built in his honour or whether he should be fired. In a kiln.

The answer, of course, is somewhere in between, though preferably further away from the kiln option. Gaunce was a safe pick, a power forward type who was high on nearly every scout’s pre-draft rankings, but it’s impossible to say whether he’ll be a future Hall-of-Famer or an ECHL-bound bust or somewhere in-between. What we can do is try to figure out just who Brendan Gaunce is and why he was picked in the first round by the Canucks.

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PITB’s NHL Draft Liveblog Extravaganza

Tonight is the night when the past is forgotten and all that matters is the future. The NHL Draft is all about optimism and hope. Check your cynicism at the door and dream big, because picking well at the draft can completely change a team’s fortunes. The Vancouver Canucks will pick 26th overall in the first round, which isn’t quite as exciting as picking in the top-10, but still gives them an opportunity to pick up a future star.

Will they pick Tomas Hertl? Martin Frk? Phillip Di Giuseppe? Some other, less awesomely-named prospect? We don’t know. Maybe Mike Gillis will trade the pick. Or Luongo. Or Schneider! OR EVERYONE!

Whatever happens, PITB will be there. Join us at 4:00 pm to chat about all of the craziness (or boringness) that ensues this evening. If you’ve joined any of our other liveblogs, you’ll know that the chances of us staying on topic are slim to none, but we will have a lot of fun.

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Five dates on the Canucks’ 2012-13 schedule that will probably be really lame

The Vancouver Canucks’ 2012-13 schedule was released Thursday, and you know what? It’s not half-bad. Mike Gillis even went so far as to call the entire thing “travel-friendly” on the radio Wednesday, and he’s right, at least compared to previous years. The longest road trips are only five games and they’re both out of the way by the end of November. The Canucks only makes 3 trips out East the entire year, they don’t visit Florida, and the trips don’t have them darting all over the globe, willy-nilly, like they’re tracking Carmen Sandiego.

As for the games of note, well, there’s a Saturday night tilt with Boston on the 29th of December that will probably be a lot of fun, although the Canucks conspicuously omitted this one on their list of dates to remember. (This is easy to explain. When Mike Gillis blamed some of the Canucks’ struggles in the back half of the season on emotional exhaustion from last season’s Boston game, the marketing department effectively forfeited the right to make a big deal of this year’s at all. They’d be defenestrated for that.) We’ll probably all enjoy the visit from the Maple Leafs two Saturdays prior, especially if acquire Roberto Luongo some time between them and now, and tilts with the Blackhawks and Red Wings will be as enjoyable as ever.

But let’s not talk about the games we know will be good. Someone else will do that. Instead, let’s take a look at the games I’m pretty sure are going to suck. Here are five that project to be exceedingly lame.

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On Ultra Boy, Alex Edler, and Bounces

One of my favourite comic book concepts is the Legion of Superheroes, which can be summed up in a simple sentence: a thousand years in the future, superpowered teenagers battle to save the universe. One of my favourite members of the Legion of Superheroes is Ultra Boy, the result of a pure comic book question: what if a character had the powers of Superman, but could only use them one at a time?

Ultra Boy has many phenomenal powers: super-strength, invulnerability, flight, super-speed, and various vision powers, including x-ray vision and heat-vision. With that combination of superpowers, he ought to be one of the most powerful superheroes in the universe, but for that one weakness: he can only use one of those superpowers at any given time.

Why am I talking about Ultra Boy? Because he is, essentially, Alex Edler. (The main difference is that Edler has never been eaten by a space whale.)

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The Dreaded Two-Goal Lead: Volpatti re-signs, MacTavish resigns, Pahlsson signs elsewhere

The Dreaded Two-Goal Lead is an infrequent PITB feature used specifically to recover quickly after falling behind. What’s with the name? Well, as you no doubt know, a two-goal lead – often called “the worst lead in hockey” – is super easy to come back from. Similarly, while Canucks’ news comes fast and furious, and sometimes (say, in the summer, when we’re busy resting on our laurels) we find ourselves playing catchup, this feature allows us to catch up almost effortlessly.

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What does the Anders Lindback trade mean for Cory Schneider’s value?

After Dwayne Roloson’s disastrous performance last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning desperately needed to acquire a goalie in the offseason. In fact, Tampa Bay was one of the top destinations for a potential Roberto Luongo trade, according to a legion of armchair GMs. After all, Luongo has family in Florida, right? It made perfect sense.

Instead, Steve Yzerman went a completely different route and traded for Anders Lindback of the Nashville Predators, Pekka Rinne’s still-unproven backup, to fill their number one spot. The trade has ramifications for both Canucks goaltenders: first, it removes a potential destination for Luongo, and second, it sets the bar for Cory Schneider’s trade value.

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Who might be available to the Canucks at the 26th pick in the NHL draft?

Crazy as it may seem, the 2012 NHL Draft is just one week away. On June 22nd in Pittsburgh, the league’s GMs will gather at the Consol Energy Center and attempt to shape the future of their franchises. For teams at the bottom of the standings, the excitement level is high, as names like Nail Yakupov, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Ryan Murray have been on everyone’s lips for months now.

For a team like the Canucks, it’s a little bit harder to get excited, as they won’t be picking until 26th overall in the first round, where the names and faces are little less familiar to the average hockey fan. In order to combat that insouciance, I want to introduce you to a few of the prospects that are expected to be available for the 26th pick by looking at the various rankings and mock drafts that have been produced by those in the know.

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On the anniversary of his broken back, Mason Raymond gets the gift of salary arbitration

It’s been a rough 12 months for Mason Raymond. As you might recall, on June 13 of last year, Raymond entered Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final and came out not with a Cup ring, but rather, with a broken back. Then, after successfully working his way back to health, his return was put off because Alain Vigneault was riding a hot team, then further put off when the Canucks made a paperwork error. Then, once he finally did get back into the lineup, he struggled to produce and spent the next 4 months as the whipping boy of Canuck fans everywhere.

And now, just to really make these last 12 months a year to remember, on the one-year anniversary of his vertebral fracture, the Canucks have elected to take Raymond to arbitration, where they will argue he’s not worth his qualifying offer.

Worst. Year. Ever.

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Ryan Kesler thinks that if you can play, You Can Play

The You Can Play initiative started by the Burke family has a simple message that should resonate with everyone who hears it: if you can play, you can play. In hockey, nothing else should matter, and they have created a number of PSAs with NHL stars stating that this is the case. According to these videos, the only thing that matters is how well you play the game. Race, country, and creed don’t matter and, most importantly for the Burke family, neither does sexual orientation.

Ryan Kesler has now joined the lengthy list of NHL stars lending their names to the You Can Play initiative, speaking up for those who may fear speaking up for themselves. He appears in a PSA with former Canuck Tanner Glass and former pain-in-the-Canuck Dustin Byfuglien.

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The Wellwoods win the Play On! regionals, recap their exploits in journal form

The Vancouver Wellwoods, PITB’s official womens’ road hockey team, were in action over the weekend, competing in Play On!’s regional division championships. Decked out in their fancy new duds, sponsored by BC Diabetes and Ken Johnson, they took the title. They also wrote about their success in a guest post for Pass it to Bulis. Here’s Captain Morgain Tierney, detailing how it all went down.

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Cory Schneider spends day with fan, reminds everyone that Canucks have two personable star goaltenders

Roberto Luongo has been spending the off-season (allegedly) letting everyone know that he’s a quick-witted and funny guy through his (alleged) twitter account. Combine that with the rumours that he has (allegedly) been traded to Toronto and you end up with a lot of Canucks fans who are suddenly (and allegedly) sad that Luongo might be leaving Vancouver. We only just now are finding out what a goofball he is and now he might be taking his talents to Sunnyside Beach.

It’s like people suddenly forgot that the Canucks’ other really good goaltender also has a great sense of humour and is an all-around nice guy. Thankfully, Cory Schneider stepped up to remind everyone that he is also a good dude by being his normal charming self during a day spent with a contest winner and his family. The contest ran through Panini America, who make trading cards, and the winner was a young man named David Almeida, who is a pretty big fan.

A fan of sports cards, that is. David Almeida is from Boston, so it’s not overly likely that he’s a Canucks fan. The video of the day is a little dry at times, but it definitely has its high points.

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PITB chats with Twitter superstar Strombone1, who may or may not be Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo has dominated the Canucks’ offseason discussion, both because rumours that he’s on his way out of town continue to swirl, and because he is believed to be running one of the best athlete Twitter accounts in the history of the world. @strombone1, Roberto Luongo’s super-secret suspected Twitter account, is pretty much everything you want an athlete Twitter account to be: hilarious, interactive, topical, you name it. The only thing it isn’t… is verified.

I’ve compiled my evidence for why I believe Roberto Luongo is the man behind @strombone1 at the bottom of this post and, as strange the account has gotten over the past few months, I stand by my conclusions. Heck, I’m more confident now than I was then. Jason Botchford agrees. Still, there are facts yet to be found, which is why I recently reached out to @strombone1 himself for answers.

Granted, he didn’t provide any, but we still chatted via Twitter’s direct messaging service. What follows is an exclusive interview with @strombone1, which may actually be an exclusive interview with Roberto Luongo, depending on what you believe.

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Vancouver Canucks Player Usage Charts for 2011-12 season

Advanced statistics in hockey aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Also, not everyone likes tea in the first place, so when you offer them a cup of tea and they politely, yet firmly, decline and you keep shoving tea in their face, it’s rather rude. And yet, I continue to talk about advanced statistics on PITB, trusting that the tea-drinkers will appreciate a nice rooibos tea while everyone else will ignore it completely.

But what if I promised a pretty picture that might make advanced statistics a bit more clear? Or, in my increasingly forced tea metaphor, what if I added a bunch of high-fructose corn syrup to green tea but still pretended it was healthy by putting ginseng in it?

Robert Vollman of Hockey Abstract has released the 2011-12 Player Usage Charts, which take three of the most common and useful advanced statistics and put them into a handy-dandy chart that makes it easy to see at a glance how a player was used and how well they performed in their role. I’ve taken a look at these charts in regards to the Stanley Cup Finalists over at Backhand Shelf; after the jump, I’m going to look at the Vancouver Canucks’ chart and see what can be gleaned from it.

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Friesen signs with the Canucks, other prospects do not

While the internet has been awash in Roberto Luongo trade rumours, the only real Canucks news has come from their prospect pool. Mike Gillis signed one prospect, saw another head to Europe, and declined to offer a contract to two more. So what are these moves and what do they say about the Canucks’ prospect pool?

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