The Prospector is a semi-regular feature on Pass it to Bulis where we pan the Canucks prospects pool in search of gold.
It’s easy to lose track of how the Canucks’ prospects are doing during the regular season. After all, the Canucks play a game every couple of days and every spare moment in-between is full of fretting over what the result of the previous game meant for the team’s chances of winning another game ever again. All that fretting doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.
That’s why we’re starting a semi-regular feature on the blog called The Prospector, where we’ll take a look through the Canucks’ system and give you an update on a few select prospects. For the first edition of The Prospector, we’re going to start with the big names. There were five prospects that had a real shot at starting the season with the Canucks, but for one reason or the another didn’t make the cut: Frank Corrado, Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, and Nicklas Jensen.
I was shocked when the Canucks cut Corrado during training camp and sent him to the Utica Comets. After all, his entry-level contract had already kicked in after playing 7 games last season and he had given every indication of being ready to make the jump to the NHL with his performance at the Young Stars Tournament and in the pre-season.
The idea was that it would be the best move for his development, however, as he’ll get the chance to play big minutes in all situations in Utica until he gets called up to the Canucks. The addition of Ryan Stanton to the Canucks defensive depth means it might be longer before we see Corrado in a Canucks jersey, though.
It hasn’t been the best start to the season for Corrado and the Comets, as he has no points through three games and the Comets have lost all three games. It’s tough to tell how many minutes he’s playing, unfortunately, as the AHL does not keep track of time on ice. The top pairing appears to be Alex Biega and Peter Andersson, however, so he’s not necessarily eating up big minutes just yet.
Corrado has a minus-1 rating, which doesn’t sound particularly good until you realize the Comets have a minus-6 goal differential and only three players — Alexandre Grenier, Pascal Pelletier, and Darren Archibald — have a positive plus/minus. For whatever the plus/minus statistic is worth, Corrado is second among Comets’ defencemen through three games.
Despite his two goals, Gaunce just didn’t stand out enough during the pre-season to compete for the opening at third-line centre, as it was hoped he would. One explanation for his lack of prominence is that he tends to play a quieter game, focussing on the defensive side of the puck. The other explanation is that he still needs to work on his skating and upping the pace of his game.
After two OHL seasons at a point-per-game, the Canucks would surely like to see Gaunce step up even more offensively. So far, he’s at the same pace as before, scoring 10 points in 10 games. That does, however, lead the Belleville Bulls, who have struggled to start the season, going 2-8-2, while getting badly out-shot and out-scored.
While he’s continued scoring, some of the responsibility for the Bulls’ lack of success will inevitably fall on Gaunce’s shoulders as the captain. The Bulls are entering a rebuilding year, with last season’s leading scorer, Joseph Cramarossa, goaltender Malcolm Subban, and minute-munching defenceman Brady Austin all gone, so it’s not too surprising that they’re struggling.
Still, the Bulls are currently last in the OHL after finishing first in their conference last season. At this rate, Gaunce won’t be with the Bulls for the entire season, as he’ll likely get traded to a contending team instead.
Shinkaruk is off to a superb start with the Medicine Hat Tigers after he was a late cut from the Canucks. He had two points in each of his first three games and now has 4 goals and 10 points in 6 games. The Tigers are 7-2-2 to start the season and were certainly happy to see the return of their captain.
While we’re familiar with his goalscoring ability from watching him during the pre-season, his best highlight of the season has to be this assist:
Goodness gracious, that’s nice.
Shinkaruk is 7th in the WHL in points-per-game, but still has a long way to go to catch someone like 20-year-old Mitch Holmberg, who has a whopping 16 goals and 32 points in 13 games.
Speaking of superb starts, Horvat is getting off to one with the London Knights. Last season, Horvat had an inconsistent start, but things just seemed to click at the end of November. In his final 61 OHL games last season, including the playoffs, Horvat scored 41 goals and 68 points. He would have been 6th in goalscoring if he had scored 41 goals in 61 games during the regular season.
Horvat picked up this season right where he left off, scoring in his first game back. He now has 5 goals and 11 points in 8 games, while continuing his excellent defensive play. This production has come despite Max Domi, who led the Knights in scoring last season, scoring just 1 goal and 5 points in 5 games this season, meaning Horvat has had to lead the offence in London.
This assist against the Windsor Spitfires is all kinds of fantastic, from the neat stick check in the neutral zone, to the subtle kick of the puck behind his left skate up to his stick, to the wide drive around the defender.
Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Technically, Jensen is still with the Canucks, as he’s on the Injured Reserve while he’s recuperating from a shoulder injury suffered during the pre-season. Once he recovers, he’ll be heading straight to the Utica Comets.
According to Comets assistant coach Paul Jerrard on October 4th, Jensen was expected to be out for two more weeks. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned and Jensen is expected to be an additional two weeks according to News 1130:
2 more weeks on the sidelines for #Canucks forward Nicklas Jensen. Seperated his shoulder Sept 21st in Edmonton.
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) October 17, 2013
Welp.Tags: Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce, Frank Corrado, Hunter Shinkaruk, Nicklas Jensen, The Prospector