milan lucic

Is The Draft The Turning Point For The Canucks?

Sure, lead with a question. Click bait? Maybe. But let’s get real for a second. Its been a few months since the Canucks shamed out for the year and it’s already time to draft the next wave of players that our future GM can trade away for parts. The recent trade of Jared McCann for Erik Gudbranson (plus other stuff we could debate forever) was a move forward any way you look at it.

Either it’s McCann was expendable and they needed a core defenseman teams can be scared of and trading a piece they can upgrade at the draft was the easiest route or, Benning actually feels McCann is in the Cody Hodgson category and we will all praise him years from now. The Draft might be time where the sad sack Canucks take a turn for the better.

 

Jim Benning has done a pretty good job at the draft since he got here.  In 2 years he brought in Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Thatcher Demko, Nikita Tryamkin, Brock Boeser and (a really good player drafted here). These are the keepers, well except McCann; two of these guys are already everyday roster players and its only a year or so before Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko are regulars as well.

That’s impressive if you care to say it. Trusting that Bo Horvat was ready, taking a chance on Sven Baertschi as well as a few other decisions; Benning IS building this team up whether we want to believe it or not.

Yes, he’s also dismantling it at the grassroots level just as quick as he’s created it and there’s no amount of analysis that can figure him out in that regard.

This go around at the draft is special though. As of right now, the Canucks hold the 5th pick but that’s right now. Benning says he’s taking calls and listening to offers and over at Canucks Army, the roundtable discussed what real situations could arise that involved trading that pick. Depending on how close ownership/management feels the Canucks are to being competitive again, they might just go for it and heck, make an offer for Auston Matthews.

A combination of drafting and shrewd free agent signings can also go a long way in sculpting the next wave of the Canucks. Troy Brouwer, Steven Stamkos (if you believe he’s available), Milan Lucic, David Backes and Andrew Ladd are all character guys with talent..and a few Cups for some of them. Money can buy some of that talent but it’s the draft itself that gets you them for free.

The consensus players available are that of Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois. It could be mayhem by that point but Dubois sounds like the one they should get. Is it all about that high pick though? What about the remaining picks?

We’ve seen players like Tyler Benson fall from top 3 status early on to late first round/second round ranking. We’ve been told many times over the airwaves that when Benson gets back to 100%, that team gets a steal. This may very well be true and Benning would be wise to remember the kid playing in his back yard if he gets the chance.

I’ve championed the notion that the WHL players many of us see on the reg’ (slang for regular) are missed opportunities and when they blow up elsewhere it’s always “how come they didn’t draft THAT guy when he came around?”

Dante Fabbro and Lucas Johansen are a few players that fall in that category, ok Fabbro was BCHL, and the impact picks are really made when the lights dim. With no second round pick currently, he’ll have to get creative. I can see at least one trade being made to move up into the second round.

Looking at past Cup winners and really, just super successful teams, having home grown talent from draft day right through development up to the big club is how you create a true winner. Detroit did it, Chicago did it, Pittsburgh did it and may very well do it again and yes, so did LA. Trading away and giving up on players before they’ve given you a proper chance to make a rational decision only pushes that development of the team further back.

There’s a wave coming in Vancouver and its not the tsunami from the mega thrust earthquake that will sink the whole west coast (like on San Andreas with the Rock. Remember that movie? Love the Rock, he’s great…whoops, went on a tangent there.); Bo Horvat is so close to being what we all hope he’ll be. He’s the next “C” and if he takes it from Henrik, this team is ready.

Looking deeper, Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev and sure Big RusTryamkin have developed into reliable defenders. Gudbranson we hope will give Vancouver the grit and snarl that it has lacked since Bieksa left in 2012 (really anytime after the Cup Final). A healthy Brandon Sutter frees up Horvat and in turn gives whoever they’re drafting a quicker transition from pick to player.

The draft is an opportunity for Jim Benning to decide if HIS Canucks are turning the corner. He can make or break this team and despite many of our intentions to hate him, he holds all the keys to all the doors and this is the one time trusting Jimbo means going all in.

There isn’t much room for error and if this current go around tanks, we could look back at this draft as the breaking point.

But no pressure.

photo – vancouversun.com

The Oracle Says Kassian Is The One…OK, Not Quite

The journey Zack Kassian is on is an eventful one. We definitely haven’t seen it all yet and this circus is far from over. Since the trade that brought him to the Canucks for Cody “my dad says im the best” Hodgson, he has experienced extreme ups and downs. The hope that he would turn into the next Cam Neely or Milan Lucic isn’t much more than a wish right now. His play of late has given us a sliver of hope that he indeed is the player we hoped he will be. The Oracle said this would happen.

He’s given us funny gifs, viral memes and other notable internet shenanigans. Zack Kassian basically has gained the love of Vancouver and half of us thought he would be gone already.

His talent, although impressive at times, is still raw and Willie D and his staff are working to push the right buttons to get the beast within to roar on the ice. Zack has a prototypical power forward body and some pretty silky mitts. Up until recently, Kass hasn’t been able to put that all together for more than a game at a time.

But the tide is changing. Neo is starting to believe.

He has always been pretty good along the boards, it would take a gorilla to strip the puck off him most times in that area, he IS good, he needs to believe.

When Zack’s breaking down the wing he should be able to easily power past most defenders and go forehand backhand at will, like Todd Bertuzzi used to do. That underlying mean streak and that edge are one of the big things holding him back.

Tough love has finally been given to Zack with the healthiest of scratchings a week ago. The message was sent and for a lot of young guys like him, there is an “a ha” moment that acts as a wake up call. He was effing mad.

Am I frustrated? You guys have no idea how effing frustrated I am. But that’s the way it is. I’m not going to sit here and sulk. I just have to find a way. It’s no secret I need to start scoring goals and I need to be more consistent. I have two goals this year. I came in and I had high expectations… it’s tough to score when you’re riding the bike.

-Kassian on his benching
Taken from Elliott Pap of Vancouver Sun

Zack Kassian saw what his career could look like if he doesn’t realize his potential: free popcorn and Farmville game invites in the rafters. You don’t want that Zack, you know this road, you know where it goes.

The Oracle told Kassian the blue paint, shooting at will and playing with an edge will help him achieve his goals; Canucks goals in opponents nets. There has never been a better time for Zack to up his game.

There will be nights where dumb penalties will catch up to him, where he might show some disinterest or he’ll just punch someone out. Actually, the last one is ok, he can do that more.

Being a power forward isn’t easy I’m sure and being a star power forward isn’t something that happens overnight. A work in progress still? You bet. Giving Kass the chance to succeed? That’s a step in the right direction.

This is going to be the team that will turn heads for the next generation of Canucks fans. He’s not the One, heck he’s not even the Two; but Zack Kassian is on the road to realization and he might just be what we wanted all along.

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If Willie, Jim and Trevor keep seeing improvements, Kassian can be great.

For now, we all are day to day with our theories. But the Oracle knows.

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