Canucks Preview: Future Watch
The Canucks organization has historically been a rather poor judge of character through the draft.
The cupboard has in reality been very bare for many years. Names like Patrick White and Josh Holden hardly roll off the tongue. The last few years has seen some improvement, with picks such as Kesler and Schneider, but the organization’s penchant for frequently fixating on smaller skill players has yet to provide real fruit.
Whether Jordan Schroeder and Cody Hodgson can change this remains to be seen. However, some recent creativity in tapping other outlets, such as college and junior free agents, in addition to the draft has enhanced the farm depth.
Chris Tanev can still be considered a prospect as he was not a regular choice when the team was fully healthy, and played essentially when injury concerns pressed him into service.
This past season and playoff cameo appearances allowed his mature and confident game to shine. Naturally, he is the closest to becoming a regular and he looks to have spent his off-season wisely devoted to fitness and bulking up, with ten pounds of added muscle. This will help immensely as he pushes to get an extended run on the third pairing of the Canucks defence.
Exhibiting a preternatural calm, in defiance of his age, Tanev gives the back end an injection of youth and playoff experience with the big club.
Darren Archibald is a newer player in the Canucks system that has the potential to outpace better known organization prospects including Schroeder. He was signed as an overage player who already had experienced camps with the Blue Jackets and Red Wings.
A look at his junior career stats show a winger with terrific size and scoring touch, who actually improved his point per game average in the playoffs, as compared to the regular seasons.
Archibald is one to watch, and this opinion was cemented by some impressive displays during the recent rookie team tournament.
Eddie Lack could well be the most important prospect in the Canucks organization. He has impressive size for a goalie and uses it well while aggressively positioning himself in the crease.
If his development continues to run smoothly this year with the Chicago Wolves, he may convince Mike Gillis that he has extra bargaining power to make a deal with one of his two senior net minders to pick up some more forward support for another spring run at the Stanley Cup.
Nicklas Jensen is very young, but could be in the big leagues within a couple of years thanks to the powerful motivation of joining Jannik Hansen as one of a handful of Danes to crack NHL rosters. If Lack is perhaps the most important prospect to the organization currently, then Jensen may just be the best long term candidate for stardom.
He has a strong hockey pedigree with a father who played 3 seasons in the OHL.
He also demonstrates an unusual maturity for his age, making his own decision to move back to Canada to compete with the Oshawa Generals for his draft year, which saw him go 29th overall in the first round. Jensen has great size, speed to burn, good sense, and the desire to succeed that could see him become the steal of the draft.