The Canucks invited 24 unsigned and undrafted prospects to their summer development camp, more than any other team in the league. Often, these invitees prove to have been unsigned and undrafted for a reason and part ways with the Canucks after camp ends. The Canucks didn’t sign any of their invitees from their 2010 or 2011 camps, though some signed with other NHL teams.
This year was different, however, as the Canucks signed one of the most intriguing invitees from their 2012 camp: defenceman Evan McEneny.
McEneny was the youngest player at the Canucks’ development camp after going undrafted in his first year of eligibility. Most players who go undrafted are fringe players who have yet to show NHL potential. Sometimes those players improve enough over their remaining years in junior to get picked up in future drafts, as the Canucks have done with several older players.
The reason McEneny didn’t get drafted, however, wasn’t because he didn’t show potential. He showed potential as a 16-year-old, making the Kitchener Rangers and playing 44 games. His steady defensive play at that age caught scout’s attention and he had plenty of people looking forward to his first season as a 17-year-old in the OHL. It’s just that season didn’t last very long.
2 games into the 2011-12 season, McEneny tore his ACL, ending his season and scaring off any NHL suitors. That suited the Canucks just fine, as they’re clearly willing to take a chance on his potential without using a precious draft pick. It’s a smart move for Mike Gillis, who has used free agent signings to restock the Canucks’ prospect cupboard, with the best result so far coming from Chris Tanev.
McEneny only scored 4 points in his first OHL season, but scouts praised his improved offensive play in the pre-season. He scored 2 points in his only 2 regular season games before his injury. Combine that with his 6’2″ frame and already NHL weight at over 200 lbs and you have an intriguing prospect. Adding another defenceman to the prospect ranks was likely a priority for Gillis after drafting just one, Junior A defenceman Ben Hutton, during the 2012 draft.
Dominic Tiano over at the OHL Writers certainly liked him:
McEneny already has good size and bulk on his frame. He’s a naturally gifted offensive defenseman. He can make a very good first pass or skate out of danger and very adept at joining the rush. He has a good hockey IQ and plays both sides of the puck. He effectively uses his size in the physical department.
Brock Otten at OHL Prospects also has high praise for McEneny:
I remain steadfast in my opinion that had he played this year, McEneny would be in consideration for the top two rounds of the draft. He was impressive defensively as a 16 year old rookie, and it was clear through the preseason games and the first two games of the OHL season, that McEneny had added an offensive punch to his game. He’s got size, mobility, physicality, and offensive potential from the back end. But he also suffered a season ending knee injury limiting his exposure to two games this year. If I was an NHL team, I’d take a flyer on him with a 7th round pick and hope he recovers well.
All told, McEneny is exactly the type of player for whom one should take a risk. Canucks fans will be eagerly following his progress in his third season in the OHL for the Kitchener Rangers, hoping that the risk begins to pay off immediately.
Stick tap to Thomas Drance over at Canucks Army for the Brock Otten assessment.Tags: Evan McEneny, Invitees