Frequent poster “Suck It” raised a couple of issues yesterday when he defended the performance of the last place Edmonton Oilers in relation to the other teams in Western Canada.
And to make matters worse for fans on the Left Coast, the Canucks don’t appear to have the young talent that the Flames and Oilers both have. In fact, the Canucks best young player appears to be Bo Horvat who has a paltry 27 Points despite playing all 63 games. Horvat also has a league worst -31 plus/minus rating. At 27 Points Horvat is behind 5 young Oiler forwards (Hall, Draisitl, Eberle, McDavid, and Nuge), and 4 young Flame forwards (Gaudrea, Monahan, Backlund, and Bennett).
Of course, the Oilers, after drafting high for almost forever, still remain the worst team in the west having the fewest points, the fewest road victories and the worst goal differential.
Those 5 high picks he mentions have led the Oilers exactly nowhere and Mr. Suck obviously hasn’t been paying attention to the youth movement currently underway in Vancouver.
Last night the Canucks went into San Jose and beat the veteran laden Sharks 4-2 with no fewer than NINE players under the age of 25 in the lineup.
Linden Vey -24
Sven Baertschi – 23
Emerson Etem – 23
Markus Granlund – 22
Ben Hutton – 22
Brendan Gaunce – 21
Bo Horvat – 20
Jake Virtanen – 19
Jared McCann – 19.
Also worth noting that top pairing D Chris Tanev is still only 26 while having almost 300 NHL games to his credit while Jacob Markstrom (.917 SV% in 21 GP) is also just 26 and is only now coming in to his own in the NHL which is not unusual for goaltenders.
That’s a very strong young core although it certainly can’t compete at the high end with McDavid.
But the Canucks prospect pipeline is far from empty.
This is Brock Boeser. Boeser was the 23rd overall pick in last season’s draft and is ripping up the NCAA with 25 goals and 43 points in 34 games played with UND.
There is a scouting report from just after the draft:
Boeser has been compared by scouts to Patrick Sharp with his natural scoring ability and his accurate and quick shot release. He is a two-way power forward who is effective at finding open space on the ice and has the ability to create scoring chances off the rush by finding open teammates with his great vision and ability to read the play.The 6-foot, 195-pound, right winger has an excellent first step and is able to quickly start and stop on the dime creating separation among defenders. At the same time, scouts are looking for Boeser to improve his defensive zone coverage as well as his board play.He played for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL in the 2014-15 season where he tied for the league lead in goals with 35 and finished third in points with 68 in 57 games. He is a complete player who has the potential to become an elite-level scorer in the NHL. (source)
Here’s how Hockey’s Future describes Tryamkin’s talent:
Tryamkin is a huge defender with a cannon of a shot. His size and puck skills are his two biggest assets. Drafted in his third year of eligibility after competing for Russia in the 2014 World Junior Championship, he is a late bloomer and must continue to work on his skating and positional play.
Long-term Tryamkin projects as a traditional stay-at-home defenseman with the size and reach to take away passing lanes and prevent scoring opportunities.
Vancouver could conceivably have two imposing Russian defenders on the team next year, if both Tryamkin and 6’5″ Andrey Pedan make the team.
So that’s a high end forward prospect to go with the group already with the team as well as two very big and very good D prospects.
But what about goaltending?
Well, it seems Jim Benning has that position surrounded as well.
This Is Thatcher Demko.
Demko is lights out the best goaltender in college hockey posting a 23W 5L 4T record with Boston College and racking up a .937 save percentage.
Here’s a synopsis of his freshman season:
At 6’3, Demko uses his bigger frame to really make shooting angles and attempts much more difficult for his opponents. He reads the game incredibly well, and his positioning is ahead of most other goalies his age. Combine his height, instinct, and steady lateral movement, and you get a rare blend of skills that keep Demko from flopping around in the crease. He rarely makes the dramatic save because he’s always square to the shooter, and in position to make a play on the puck.
“My size is a tool, but I don’t like to rely on it. I can use it, but I can still react to pucks and play athletic,” said Demko. “It’s something I’m still working on, but is probably one of the biggest pieces to my game.”
Had he played a fuller schedule, and Demko likely would have been in the conversation for many more awards come the end of his rookie season. In 24 appearances, he posted a 16-5-3 record for Boston College, with a 2.24 GAA and a .919 sv%. More impressive, Demko’s numbers when playing against league opponents were even higher, as he sported a 9-1-1 record with a 1.35 GAA and a .948 sv%. Both of his shutouts also came against Hockey East foes. (Source)
With the emergence of Markstrom and the performance of Demko, the Canucks have the potential for a very strong goaltending duo for many years.
Obviously, the Canucks are now in the middle of a rebuild and still need to find an impact 1st line forward and another top pairing D (although Ben Hutton might do) to replace the aging Alex Edler but they will likely get a top 5 draft pick this year and with the expiration of the contracts of Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, as well as the possibility of moving on from Alex Burrows, they will have significant cap space to address those issues.
GM Jim Benning has his warts as a contract negotiator but he has a long and strong record as an identifier and developer of great talent in the NHL so he should be able to right the ship pretty quickly with all the young talent that is already in place.
There is no reason to think that the Oilers will be leaving the Canucks behind anytime soon.