Burrows

Canucks Should Draft Kelowna Rockets Nick Merkley

As stated in my article on Two Pad Stack about how the Canucks should try drafting local, here is a perfect opportunity for Vancouver to redeem themselves; Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets is a sure thing. Well, I should clarify; with a growth spurt and a few extra pounds on his frame, he has the ability to be a huge part of the Canucks future.

In 2013, Merkley arrived during the playoffs to try and help the Kelowna Rockets beat the Kamloops Blazers. It wasn’t meant to be, but what everyone saw was that they had the makings of a star. He racked up 3 assists in 7 playoff games but to his credit, he probably should have had 4 goals too. The puck just finds his stick and he is one of the few players in hockey that knows exactly how to be in the right place at the right time.

His hockey IQ looks like it should be off the charts and his ability to stay calm and make smart plays in a fast paced environment is evidence that he can control the game. Merkley is a great setup man, something Ryan Kesler never was; and his smooth hands have goalies looking behind their back in the net when he skates by with his arms in the air. Just as a quick example, take a look at this past Saturdays hilites in Kelowna, he’s #10…..don’t miss the dirty move on the Brandon Wheatkings netminder at 2:05 mark.

http://www.kelownarockets.com/videos

With the Canucks failing to see the gems that exist in British Columbia, save Alex Edler, they can get these guys on the cheap and they have the best access to see them. What they will get in Merkley is a Gretzky-like, ya I said it, playmaker, a savvy shot and moves around defenders that just make you look at the guy next to you and do this:

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Photo courtesy: vansunsportsblog.com

Vancouver is going to need a new breed of hybrid forward in the next few years once the Sedins are gone, Burrows starts tailing off and the kids (Horvat, Fox, Shinkaruk and Virtanen) need help. Merkley has the potential to be a 2nd line center, maybe higher on the right team. If its in a Canucks jersey, sitting second fiddle to Horvat isn’t exactly bad.

Nick Merkley aka @merkdaddy4 doesn’t have an attitude, loves to feed his team mates the puck and all he does is win. He was the 2014 WHL Rookie of the Year, CHL Rookie of the year finalist, 2014/15 U-18 Ivan Hlinka Gold Medallist with Team Canada and after this season, possibly the WHL scoring champion and World Junior Championship Gold Medallist after Christmas.

The Canucks have a chance to do something right this year at the draft regardless of where they pick. As of right now, he is ranked 30th which is a deal for anyone making the playoffs….wink wink Canucks. Check out his real good stats too eh?

If you live in any of the cities the Rockets play this year, check out how good this kid is. If we’re lucky, we may get to see him suit up with the green and blue before we know it.

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Canucks fed up with moral victories

Team builders, character games, good shifts, blah blah blah blah blah….ENOUGH!!!! At some point, moral victories have to be nauseating in the Canucks dressing room. If you aren’t scoring, eventually none of that stuff matters. The Canucks need to start putting the puck in the net more consistently and they need to get it done now.

Looking through the lineup there are voids by the names that commonly are littering the score sheet every game. Henrik, Daniel, Santorelli, Garrison, Kassian; they are all supposed to be the guys putting the puck in the gaping 6 x 4…or has that changed recently? It sure seems like it. The Canucks just can’t seem to score goals this season. As soon as they do score a few, its followed by silence for days. When are the guys that are supposed to be our offense leaders going to step their game up and show everyone that it isn’t just the great play that Vancouver is praising.

Its definitely not for a lack of trying. The Canucks have looked pretty impressive lately and really a few bounces their way or heck a call every now and then, might flip the switch. There has to be something out for the Canucks as they never seem to get calls to go their way. They bring on a fair amount themselves but the absolute ridiculousness that the refs are missing BOTH ways is unreal. The diving by the usual guys (Burrows and Kesler) seems to be down considerably and they have learned their lesson. No reason to see this bias continue. This isn’t just a Canucks fan saying this, watch a handful of games and you might see the same thing too, who knows?

If it wasn’t for the goaltending tandem of Luongo and Lack, this year’s team might look a lot worse than it does. Losing hurts, but losing bad hurts way more, ask Calgary. Roberto and Eddie have had spectacular seasons thus far and injuries aside, these two guys have really stepped their games up. Currently, Eddie Lack is making sure, if the puck ain’t going in 200 feet down the ice, it better not go in passed his legs either. A pleasant change from Cory Schneider, there was a chance Lack may have not been able to live up to Schneider’s #1 status type play, but he has been everything the Canucks have asked of him and he keeps shutting the door.

John Tortorella has done a marvelous job this season getting the grit out of the team and onto the ice. Alain Vigneault did not get this type of team, not even in the run of 2011. Torts just needs some goals to start flowing his way and he might get a run he never saw coming. The team is by far one of the best defensively, at least on the PK anyways. It doesn’t seem like they are during 5 on 5 but the combination of great goaltending and stellar defensive responsibility, Vancouver is hanging around every game despite the scoreboard. Torts isn’t afraid to let his tough guys loose either if the game permits. They are a more tight knit group that stands up for each other and its stars.

This team needs to drive the net a bit more in fact, a lot more. They need to establish a more dominant net presence with Sestito or Weise or someone, anyone that can hang around and get bumped up a bit. Bertuzzi never found that to be a problem and look where he is. His body took a huge toll but he became one of the best power forwarrds ever in the league. Zack Kassian could learn a lot by just cementing himself in there and building that role. Its time for the guys that were brought in to make the impact they were asked to do.

With Alex Burrows coming back very soon and Alex Edler making his return in the the game they are calling “The game that penalties were called”, as well as Roberto Luongo hopefully coming back asap, the Nucks might just have some aces up their sleeves yet. If not, Eddie Lack might be asked to start shooting 200 feet down the ice. I feel like I have said this before about another one of our goalie, oh ya, I did.

Its getting frustrating waiting for all this to come together though, but thats what we do with this team, that’s what we do.

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