The Prospector: Virtanen scores in Super Series, Cassels added to Team OHL, Subban is ridiculous

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 look at Jake Virtanen, Cole Cassels, Jordan Subban, Patrick McNally, Thatcher Demko, and the rest of the Canucks’ college prospects.

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The Prospector: Virtanen, McCann, and Subban make Super Series rosters

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 look at the Canucks prospects set to play in the Subway Super Series, Jordan Subban’s goalscoring ability, Cole Cassels’ outstanding week, and a few of the Canucks’ prospects in the ECHL.

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Canucks prospects to watch at the 2014 Young Stars Tournament

I love this time of year. The lead-up to training camp and the start of the NHL regular season is a time of positivity and optimism. After a long off-season with no Canuck hockey, the wait is finally over. Sort of.

Tonight is the start of the annual Young Stars prospect tournament, as the Canucks prospects take on the Oilers prospects at 7:30 pm. The game will be streamed live on and the Canucks’ YouTube channel, which means that even if you can’t make it out to Penticton, you can still watch the game.

Normally, this is when we’d get our first look at the Canucks’ recent draft picks, but, for a variety of reasons, that won’t really be happening this year. Just two of the Canucks’ seven 2014 draft picks will be at the tournament and they were the Canucks’ last two picks of the draft. Neither of the Canucks’ first round picks will be playing: Jake Virtanen isn’t cleared for contact yet after his shoulder surgery and Jared McCann has mononucleosis.

The Canucks’ second round pick, goaltender Thatcher Demko, is already back at Boston College, while their third and fifth round picks, Nikita Tryamkin and Gustav Forsling, are back in Russia and Sweden. That leaves just sixth round pick Kyle Pettit and seventh round pick Mackenze Stewart from the Canucks’ most recent draft.

Fortunately, there are many other Canucks prospects to get excited about, from the obvious to the more unheralded.

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35 players to attend Canucks prospect development camp, starting Monday at UBC

The Canucks’ annual summer prospect development camp opens Monday at UBC, with a total of 35 players scheduled to attend. Of those 35 on the camp roster, 19 are Canucks prospects, including all 7 draft picks from this year, though they spelt poor Mackenze Stewart’s name wrong.

That means that 16 players on the camp roster are unsigned and undrafted invitees, hoping to catch the eye of the Canucks’ management team to earn a contract or, at the very least, earn another look in the future, either at training camp in the fall or further down the line.

PITB will have full profiles of each invitee over the next couple days and will do some more in-depth posts on the new Canucks prospects during the summer, but for now, here’s the camp roster with a couple notes.

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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.

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The Prospector: Joacim Eriksson and the Comets beat the Heat; Dane Fox is good at shooting pucks

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 instalment, Joacim Eriksson is the AHL’s player of the week, the Comets own the Heat, Dane Fox can shoot the puck, Brendan Gaunce is consistent, and vote for Ben Hutton for Hobey Baker.

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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.

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Camp Cuts: Frank Corrado and Brendan Gaunce get the axe, Zach Hamill gets double-axed

When the Canucks finished their final game of the pre-season against the New York Rangers, John Tortorella wasted no time making the final cuts of training camp. By the time he took the podium at the post-game press conference, he had already met with each of the players and delivered the bad news. Contrary to what Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart, and Sheryl Crow may say, the final cut is the deepest.

Brendan Gaunce got shipped back to junior with the Belleville Bulls, while Frank Corrado and Zach Hamill were reassigned to the Utica Comets. For Hamill, it was his second time getting cut this training camp, as he initially got sent down to Utica a week ago, only to get called up again when Jordan Schroeder suffered a hairline fracture blocking a shot. The reasons for Hamill getting sent down haven’t changed.

The most important part of these last few cuts is that the Canucks’ final roster is pretty much set. Assuming Schroeder gets put on the Injured Reserve, the Canucks now have a 23-man roster, though it includes the suspended Zack Kassian. The biggest news is that both of the Canucks’ first round picks from this year’s draft are still with the team: Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk. We’ll have more on this development later, but for now let’s look at the final cuts.

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Camp Cuts: Nicklas Jensen reportedly heading to Utica

The Canucks 2013 training camp is nearing its completion, as they play their final game of the pre-season tonight. Prospect forwards Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, and Brendan Gaunce are still around, with all three having a chance to make the opening night roster, particularly with Jordan Schroeder injured, Zack Kassian suspended, and David Booth questionable until he actually sets foot on the ice.

There’s still one prospect forward who hasn’t officially been cut from training camp: Nicklas Jensen. According to his agent, however, he won’t be starting the season with the Canucks after suffering an upper-body injury against the Oilers on September 21st.

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Camp Cuts: Canucks send ten more to the Utica Comets

With just over a week remaining until the start of the NHL season, the cuts from training camp are beginning to resemble the Battle at Whiskey Outpost from Starship Troopers. We shouldn’t be surprised, really. During the Canucks’ first practice, John Tortorella could be heard screaming at them, “Come on you apes, you wanna live forever?”

Over the weekend, ten more players were cut from camp, including one minor surprise. Five defencemen, three forwards, and two goaltenders were assigned to the Utica Comets. In other words, that’s half of Utica’s opening night roster.

With all the other Canucks news happening this week, it took us a little longer to get to these cuts, but they’re all fairly easy to understand.

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Camp Cuts: Canucks send eight to the Utica Comets

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Canucks made significant cuts after losing their first game of the preseason. A number of the players on the roster against the San Jose Sharks had disappointing games, like Zach Hamill and Alex Biega. What is a bit surprising, however, is that of the eight players cut from the Canucks training camp, none of them played on Monday.

The Canucks assigned five players to their affiliate in the AHL, the Utica Comets, while the three other players they cut received an invite to the Comets’ training camp. Of the eight players cut, five were invitees to camp, while the other three were drafted by the Canucks. Of the invitees, three of them are already signed to the Comets, with the other two hoping to earn contracts in camp.

Today, PITB bids a hopefully temporary farewell to Ludwig Blomstrand, Alex Friesen, Wes Myron, Mathieu Corbeil, Sacha Guimond, David Pacan, Mitch Elliot, and Jesse Mychan.

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Camp Cuts: Cole Cassels and Jordan Subban head back to the OHL

The Canucks’ preseason kicks off tonight with a game against the San Jose Sharks, meaning summer is officially over. There will be actual hockey on TV with actual NHL players skating on actual ice scoring actual goals. I mean, it’s just preseason, but hockey on TV will always be superior to no hockey on TV.

There are two players who definitely won’t be in the lineup for the Canucks, as they were cut from training camp and sent back to their junior teams: Cole Cassels and Jordan Subban. Both were selected in this year’s draft and had no chance of making the team this year, though both were impressive during the Young Stars Tournament and look like they have a promising future ahead of them.

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Young Stars Three Stars: Canucks prospects vs Jets prospects, September 9, 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.

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2013 Canucks prospect training camp invitees: part two

Today we continue our look at the invitees to the Canucks 2013 prospect training camp as the Young Stars tournament kicks off with a game between the Canucks and Sharks. will be streaming the game online at 7:30 pm, giving fans their first chance to see guys like Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk in action in a Canucks jersey. It will also be our first chance to see if some of the undrafted and unsigned invitees have a chance to earn a contract.

It’s interesting to note that five of the eleven invitees play left wing. Left wing is currently the weakest position in the Canucks’ prospect pool. Every other position has at least one player with a fairly certain NHL future: Nicklas Jensen at right wing, Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce at centre, Frank Corrado at defence, and Joacim Eriksson and Eddie Lack in net.

On left wing, however, the Canucks have Darren Archibald, Ludwig Blomstrand, Steven Anthony, Wes Myron, and Matthew Beattie. There’s some potential in that list and one of those players could surprise everyone, but none of them have significant upside to really get excited about.

If you don’t have quality, however, you may as well go for quantity and hope that you get lucky if you roll the dice enough times. It makes sense, then, for most of the invitees to play a position of weakness for the Canucks in hopes that one of them stands out and can be added to the prospect pool.

On Tuesday, we looked at the first five invitees coming to camp. Here are the remaining six:

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2013 Canucks prospect training camp invitees: part one

The Canucks prospect training camp kicks off on Wednesday, but it won’t just be Canucks prospects attending. As per usual, the Canucks have invited a number of undrafted and/or unsigned players to fill out their camp roster. Of the 31 players coming to camp and the Young Stars tournament, 11 are invitees hoping to catch the attention of Canucks’ management or, perhaps, the management of one of the other teams participating.

There’s even a recent success story from the Canucks invitees: Antoine Roussel. The native of France was an invitee at the Canucks’ 2011 prospect training camp and did enough during the Young Stars tournament to earn an invite to the Canucks’ main camp. He didn’t quite do enough to earn a contract with the Canucks, but did sign with their AHL affiliate at the time, the Chicago Wolves. His tough physical play earned the attention of the Dallas Stars and, after signing with them, had a surprisingly good 2012-13 season in the NHL, putting up 14 points in 39 games to go with his pugilistic tendencies.

The Canucks might hope that they actually signed the next invitee that has an NHL future, rather than seeing him go on to succeed elsewhere. Could any of this year’s invitees be that player? Let’s take a look at the first 5 invitees and try to learn a little bit more about them before they don Canucks jerseys this week.

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Canucks announce 2013 prospect camp and Young Stars tournament roster

August, the unhockiest of months, is finally over and, with the end of August, comes the announcement of the Canucks’ 2013 prospect camp roster. Prospect camp rosters are like the first robin of spring for hockey fans, the first indication that the figurative winter of the off-season is over and the literal winter of the hockey season is just around the corner.

Prospect camp kicks off on September 4th in Penticton, with all on-ice sessions open to the public. The Young Stars tournament starts the next day, as the Canucks host the Sharks, Flames, Oilers, and Jets. Pass it to Bulis will be in Penticton to provide in-person coverage of the event and get our first real look at the Canucks’ 2013 draft picks, particularly Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk.

Here’s the complete Canucks prospect camp roster and you can expect our usual invitee profiles over the next couple days.

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2013 Canucks Development Camp invitees: forwards, part two

The Canucks 2013 prospect development camp wrapped up yesterday. While the Canucks’ drafted and signed prospects will be sent into the off-season with a training plan full of things to work on heading into next season’s training camp, the invitees will have a couple nervous months ahead of them, as they hope to receive a follow-up invite to training camp or, if all goes well, a contract offer.

It took until September for Evan McEneny to sign with the Canucks after impressing at the 2012 development camp, so if none of the invitees sign immediately, it does not necessarily mean they won’t eventually. Still, it’s rare for an invitee to sign at all. Some will return in September for prospect training camp and will hope to earn their way to the main camp from there or to Utica to sign an AHL contract with the Comets.

We’ve covered the invitee goaltenders, defencemen, and four of the nine forwards. Here are the final five invitee forwards, featuring two Latvians, a Californian, and diametrically opposite WHL prospects.

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2013 Canucks Development Camp invitees: forwards, part one

The Canucks’ 2013 prospect development camp is coming to a climax with a scrimmage that is open to the public and viewable online. Canucks fans eager to see the Canucks’ latest draft picks will get their chance, along with an opportunity to see how past picks have developed.

I admit, however, that my eyes are likely to be drawn to some of the lesser known names on the ice. After scouring the internet for information about the 16 undrafted and unsigned invitees to this year’s development camp, I’m eager to see them play. So far, I’ve covered the invitee goaltenders and defencemen, which leaves us with the nine invitee forwards.

Two of the most interesting invitee forwards, Miks Indrasis and Cody Sylvester, will be coming in part two, but part one has a fair share of intriguing prospects, with two offensive-minded college freshmen and two physical, two-way Major Junior players, including one with a prior connection to John Tortorella.

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2013 Canucks Development Camp invitees: defence

The Canucks’ 2013 prospect development camp is well underway, as the 38 prospects have participated in on-ice drills, MMA training, yoga, and scrimmages. Tuesday, they’ll have off and on-ice sessions, then do some dragon-boating and cooking classes, presumably to learn about teamwork and nutrition, respectively.

Among the 38 prospects at camp are 16 invitees who were neither drafted nor signed by the Canucks. On Monday, I profiled the three invitee goaltenders, as the invitees don’t receive much coverage at camp and are generally relative unknowns compared to the prospects already connected to the Canucks. Today, we’ll look at the four invitee defencemen at camp, featuring three college boys and a WHL grad.

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2013 Canucks Development Camp invitees: goaltenders

The Vancouver Canucks 2013 prospect development camp kicked off this weekend I am endlessly intrigued by invitees to the Canucks development, prospect, and training camps. The undrafted and unsigned invitees have an intrigue surrounding them as, unlike the prospects that are drafted and signed by the Canucks who are the subject of interviews and highlight videos on the Canucks website, as well as coverage from the media, the invitees are virtual unknowns.

Will any of this year’s 16 invitees repeat Evan McEneny’s feat from 2012 and earn an entry-level contract with the Canucks? Let’s take a look, starting with the goaltenders.

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Canucks (finally) release 2013 development camp roster

Thanks to the NHL lockout, events have been jammed together more than usual over the past couple weeks. The end of the Stanley Cup Final led directly into the draft, with barely a moment to compose ourselves before free agency opened and craziness ensued.

Meanwhile, the Canucks’ prospect development camp has snuck up on us, as 38 players descended upon Vancouver this weekend, including all seven of the Canucks’ 2013 draft picks and a healthy dose of unsigned and undrafted invitees. This Sunday, they finally released the official development camp roster.

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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.

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Taking stock of the Canucks heading into free agency

There were a lot of extreme reactions from Canucks fans on Sunday as the goaltending controversy in Vancouver ended in one of the most unexpected ways possible. Trading Cory Schneider to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick certainly wasn’t on my SportsAction menu, and I wouldn’t have bet on it if it was.

But with that deal done, it was astonishing to see fans who seemed to be under the impression that the Canucks were now the worst team in the league and had completely destroyed any chance of winning in the coming seasons. Even if the trade itself is far from ideal, though Tyler Dellow argues that it’s on par with past deals for high draft picks, the Canucks are still a good team with good goaltending. Losing Schneider doesn’t actually change the Canucks’ chance of winning now all that much and they were able to add a top-end prospect who will improve the Canucks in the future.

With that in mind, let’s take stock of where the Canucks are at this point, particularly with free agency starting on July 5th. The Canucks certainly have holes in their lineup, along with some pending restricted and unrestricted free agents. This is likely to be a busy week for Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman.

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Seven players who the Canucks may select with the 24th pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft

The Stanley Cup Final isn’t even over yet and we’re already just one week away from the 2013 NHL entry draft. Thanks to the lockout, the NHL’s off-season schedule has been pushed back and condensed just like the season itself. If the Final goes to seven games, the General Managers of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will have just three days in-between the end of the playoffs and the start of the draft.

Mike Gillis, on the other hand, has had a lot more time to consider the draft, even while interviewing head coaching candidates and shopping around Roberto Luongo. Unfortunately, the Canucks’ ouster in round one combined with winning the Northwest Division left the team with the 24th overall pick in the first round.

Thankfully, the 2013 draft is expected to be a very good one, with many suggesting that it will compare favourably to the 2003 draft, which is considered to be one of the best of all time. The Canucks nabbed Ryan Kesler with the 23rd pick in the first round in 2003; will the 24th pick in 2013 give them a player of the same calibre as Kesler?

I dug into the draft rankings from several respected sources to see who might be available to the Canucks at and around the 24th pick this year.

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Canucks sign Swedish goalie Joacim Eriksson

Assuming that Roberto Luongo does finally get traded this off-season, the Canucks will need a backup for Cory Schneider. They have a few different options for finding one: they could try to get a goaltender back in the Luongo deal, sign one of the older, veteran goaltenders in free agency, or let their goaltending prospects battle for the job.

The latter option isn’t particularly appealing, since the Canucks’ available goaltending prospects are Eddie Lack, Joe Cannata, and…nope, that’s it.

At least, that was it, as it appears that they have signed another goaltending prospect: Joacim Eriksson.

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