Replacing Ryan Kesler with quantity, not quality

After a couple incredibly busy weeks, the Canucks appear to have finished making moves for now. While it’s certainly possible that we’ll see another trade during the summer and an unsigned free agent or two might merit an invite to training camp, it’s reasonable to think that the current Canucks roster is the same as the one we will see in September when camp starts.

If so, the Canucks are left with a significant hole on the second line, approximately the same size and shape as Ryan Kesler. For years, the Canucks have relied on Kesler to shutdown the opposition’s best forwards, while contributing secondary scoring and playing a key role on both the penalty kill and power play. Although he has slowed down of late and will likely never again be the 70+ point player he was in 2009-10 and 2010-11, he’ll still be difficult to replace.

It looks like Jim Benning didn’t even try to replace Kesler. Instead, he placed a premium on having a proven goaltender, devoting significant capspace to signing Ryan Miller rather than going after one of the top centres available in free agency. By doing so, Benning left the second-line centre role up for grabs, banking on quantity over quality.

While the Canucks don’t have any surefire bets to replace Kesler, they do have several potential second line centres who are as yet unproven. The Canucks’ best bet at this point is to rotate players in and out of the position throughout the season until one of them secures it with his play.

Continue Reading —›
Watch Canucks prospects put up points in round two of the CHL playoffs [VIDEO]

The Canucks have to be proud of the performance of their prospects in the CHL playoffs. After two rounds, three prospects are still in the top-ten in OHL playoff scoring: Dane Fox, Brendan Gaunce, and Cole Cassels. The Canucks have five prospects still in the playoffs — the aforementioned three forwards and defencemen Miles Liberati and Anton Cederholm.

Bo Horvat’s London Knights regrettably got eliminated by the Guelph Storm, but will still get a chance to play for the Memorial Cup since they are the hosts of the tournament.

Since so few of the CHL playoff games are televised, I compiled a highlight reel for round one two weeks ago and I have done the same for round two, featuring some pretty assists from Brendan Gaunce and an outburst of goals from Cole Cassels.

Continue Reading —›
Watch Bo Horvat, Dane Fox, Brendan Gaunce, and Cole Cassels tear up the OHL playoffs [VIDEO]

The Canucks playoff hopes are about as dim as Shane O’Brien caving in Torca del Cerro del Cuevon without a headlamp. The chances of the Canucks making the playoffs are lower than the chances of “fetch” happening. It’s as unlikely as Facebook ever adding a dislike button.

Some players in the Canucks system are seeing playoff success, however, specifically their forward prospects in the OHL. All four are in the top-ten in scoring in the OHL playoffs, with Dane Fox first and Brendan Gaunce third. Their respective teams also dominated the first round, all advancing in four or five games.

It’s tough to see these prospects in action, however, as OHL playoff games are sporadically televised at best. You can see Bo Horvat and the London Knights take on the Guelph Storm in game one of their second round series this Friday on Sportsnet ONE at 4:30, but if you want to see others, you’re basically out of luck.

You can, however, see some of their goals and assists from the first round in the following highlight video!

Continue Reading —›
The Prospector: Ben Hutton’s record-breaking season; Canucks prospects make a mark in OHL playoffs

The Prospector is a semi-regular feature on Pass it to Bulis where we pan the Canucks prospects pool in search of gold.

In this edition, we break down Ben Hutton’s solid sophomore season and highlight four forwards — Dane Fox, Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce, and Cole Cassels — racking up points in the OHL playoffs.

Continue Reading —›
Watch Bo Horvat undress a defenceman to score a gorgeous highlight reel goal [VIDEO]

Despite the disappointment of falling short at the World Junior tournament, Bo Horvat is still having an incredible season. The Canucks’ 9th overall pick in the 2013 draft is racking up points while continuing his strong defensive play, doing his best to justify the high price paid to draft him.

With 47 points in 31 games, Horvat is 10th in the OHL in points-per-game, establishing himself as one of Canada’s best junior players. He combines elite defensive play with good offensive instincts, but what has been most eye-catching about Horvat is is hands, which are far silkier than his initial scouting reports indicated.

Horvat has a devastating toe drag as well as quick hands in traffic, but his move on Sunday against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is simply unreal.

Continue Reading —›
The Prospector: Alexandre Grenier helps lead Utica, Ben Hutton’s a top Black Bear

The Prospector is a semi-regular feature on Pass it to Bulis where we pan the Canucks prospects pool in search of gold.

In the first edition of The Prospector, we took a look at some of the big names in the Canucks’ prospect pool, like Frank Corrado, Bo Horvat, and Hunter Shinkaruk. This time around, we’re going to look at some of the lesser lights that still have potential to eventually crack a Canucks lineup, while also touching on a couple updates on the top tier.

Continue Reading —›
The Prospector: Shinkaruk and Horvat impress, Gaunce and Corrado hold steady, Jensen still on shelf

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.

Continue Reading —›
No youth in Canucks’ expected opening night lineup

At the Canucks’ season-ending press conference in May, Mike Gillis repeatedly emphasized the idea of a reset and stressed the need for youth. “We need to have a different look,” he told reporters, “We need to get younger.”

That message continued during the summer, as Gillis reiterated, “I want to have opportunities for young players on this team.”

Now, after a busy weekend, those opportunities have disappeared. None of the Canucks’ highly-touted young prospects will be on the ice in San Jose as the Canucks face the Sharks to open the season. In fact, only two players under the age of 25 is expected to be in the lineup: Chris Tanev and new acquisition Zac Dalpe. For Canucks fans excited to see homegrown prospects make the team, the Canucks’ current roster has to be a disappointment.

Continue Reading —›
Camp Cuts: Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk sent back to junior, Jeremy Welsh reassigned to Utica

Last Friday, it looked like the Canucks had made the final cuts of camp, sending Frank Corrado and Zach Hamill to the AHL and Brendan Gaunce to junior. That left the Canucks with a 23-man roster that included 18-year-olds Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk, an exciting proposition for fans looking for an influx of fresh faces and high-end skill.

Then, like 80′s R&B girl group Teen Dream, Mike Gillis got busy and brought in three new players, two via trade and one via the waiver wire. That necessitated further cuts to the roster and both Horvat and Shinkaruk, along with newcomer Jeremy Welsh, were the victims.

Continue Reading —›
Young Stars Three Stars: Canucks prospects vs Sharks prospects, September 5, 2013

If you’re eager for the return of our regular I Watched This Game feature, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Since the game itself isn’t really the point of the Young Stars tournament, we’re instead looking at the games with a three stars format looking at individual performances and who stood out the most. We’ll be looking at the three best players from among the Canucks prospects as well as making a few other observations.

Continue Reading —›
Spitballin’ on Alberts re-signing, snarky Whitecaps, and prospects scoring beautiful goals

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.

Continue Reading —›
YouTube Scouting: Bo Horvat’s high-end finishing ability

When it comes to the NHL draft, we depend on scouting reports and draft rankings from experts. There are simply too many prospects and too many games to really get a read on draft-eligible players. For the Canucks’ top pick, Bo Horvat, I saw a little bit of him during the OHL Championships and Memorial Cup, but they were fleeting glimpses without much context.

The other option for seeing Horvat play is YouTube. The instant reaction of many fans when a draft pick is announced is to dive straight into the videos to find highlights that illustrate how he plays.

There’s an inherent bias in this type of “scouting,” of course. Highlight videos only show players doing “highlight-y” things: scoring goals, undressing goaltenders, and making pretty passes. It’s an incomplete picture at best and can sometimes be an entirely false picture. Still, combined with scouting reports and statistics, it’s better than nothing.

So what can we glean about Bo Horvat from YouTube? A decent amount, it turns out.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Continue Reading —›