Might the Canucks’ brass be in town to see Joe Colborne? Yes, they might.
On Wednesday, Daniel rolled out a novel mindset that might allow even the bitterest of Canucks fans to cheer for the Abbotsford Heat while still thumbing his nose at the Northwest Division rival Calgary Flames. The worse the Flames are, the better the Heat will be, Daniel espoused.
But there are other reasons for Canuck fans to take in Abbotsford contests besides Schadenfreude from concentrate. As strange as it sounds for a game that features 50% future Flames, a trip to the city in the country might also yield a glimpse into the future of the Vancouver Canucks, and I’m not just talking about when the Chicago Wolves come to visit.
For example: the Toronto Marlies are in Abbotsford this Thursday and Friday, and if the rumours surrounding Roberto Luongo’s future are to be believed, then at least one or two players currently suiting up for the Marlies — Toronto’s best professional sports team, by the way — should become Vancouver property shortly after the lockout ends.
If you’re a diehard Canucks fan, that means the two-game set between the Heat and the Marlies is probably worth seeing. But the same goes for members of the Canucks scouting staff and front-office. If indeed they’re speaking to Toronto about a swap involving Funny Bob, the Canucks would be high-order fools not to cross the Port Mann (or take the Mary Hill Bypass and cruise in on Lougheed, said this Maple Ridge resident) and see what the Maple Leafs are selling in person.
I can assure you that the Canucks staff are not high-order fools. According to a source, the Canucks will be sending a large group of scouts and management, including two members of Mike Gillis’s
majestic consortium front office staff. The Maple Leafs are sending a similar group, and I’d speculate that they aren’t here to chat with Flames’ management (or say hi to Steve McCarthy).
Who might the Canucks be looking at?
The team is hoping to address through this trade at least one of their two organizational needs: an offensive-minded defenceman and a third-line centre. Considering the development of Kevin Connauton, which seems to be going even better than they expected, and the fact that Brendan Gaunce is still a ways off, I’d say they covet the centre more.
Two names have come up: Tyler Bozak and Joe Colborne.
Now, Bozak isn’t currently with the Marlies (and let’s hope the fact that they can’t see him this weekend dissuades them from considering him if they are, because blech). But Colborne’s here, and he bears some striking similarities to Panthers’ prospect Nick Bjustad, recently deemed untouchable by Dale Tallon: he’s big, he’s 22 years old and, uh, he’s not Tyler Bozak. He’s also teetering on NHL readiness, which is important since the Canucks are in win-now mode and would like to acquire someone they can start playing on the quick.
(Not to mention against the Quick. The Canucks’ need for an upgrade in the middle of line 3 was evident versus the LA Kings last postseason.)
Nazem Kadri’s another name to watch. The Leafs seem to be growing frustrated with him and recently railed on his fitness, and the Canucks have a history of picking up young Maple Leaf centres with fitness issues.
And, of course, speaking of offensive defencemen, Jake Gardiner still plays for this team. Sure, the Maple Leafs said no when the Canucks inquired about him at the draft, but that doesn’t mean Vancouver stopped coveting him. If his defensive ability has improved since last spring, when even AHL skaters were told to go right through him, then Canucks might covet him all the more.Tags: Abbotsford Heat, Maple Leafs, rampant speculation, Toronto Marlies