The future remains now for the Vancouver Canucks and while they do not have the abundance of blue-chip youngsters like the Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks are not devoid of young talent. However, trading their first three picks in the 2010 entry draft has kept the numbers of CHL players on their depth chart to a minimum. There are some major junior players that GM Mike Gillis and the Canucks feel have the potential to become bona fide NHLers. Some are having strong 2011-12 seasons, others less so.
Nicklas Jensen, RW, Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 1st round (29th overall) in 2011 draft
The junior prospect who turned heads in the Canucks camp, Jensen scored, checked, and showed a maturity that had the Canucks’ coaching staff and their fans thinking he just might be ready. Jensen was among the final cuts, returned to the Oshawa Generals where he’s hovered around the Top 20 in OHL scoring with 17 goals, 18 assists for 35 points after 30 games. That pace will see the 6’3 Dane eclipse the 58 points he managed last season, his first year in the league and country. In late November he had a four-point effort and reports note that he continues to be an impact player at both ends of the ice, with new Oshawa coach Gary Agnew using him in all situations. Jensen will lead Denmark at the 2011 WJC.
Frank Corrado, D, Sudbury Wolves
Acquired: 5th round (150th overall) in 2011 draft
Defenseman Frank Corrado sits at plus-13 with three goals and 13 assists through 27 games for the Sudbury Wolves. The club is battling Mississauga for last in a strong Central Division but the Wolves have the fifth lowest goals against total in the 20 team league and Corrado has had a great deal to say about that.
Now listed at 6’2 and 191 pounds, the veteran plays the point on the powerplay, where he scored two of his three goals, and on the penalty kill. He was named the team’s top player for October.
Alex Friesen, C, Niagara IceDogs
Acquired: 6th round (172nd overall) in 2010 draft
A small forward at 5’9, Friesen seems to be spinning his wheels with the Niagara Ice Dogs, clipping along at the same per game point pace he’s been at in the past two OHL seasons. Currently, he has 11 goals and 19 assists through 27 games, including four powerplay goals. He also has a plus-11.
Friesen went on a hot streak through November, posting eight goals, nine assists, and a plus-nine through 11 games. The Canucks have until June to offer Friesen an entry-level contract.
David Honzik, G, Victoriaville Tigres
Acquired: 3rd round (71st overall) in 2011 draft
David Honzik came into 2011-12 with credentials, leading his Victoriaville Tigres in the playoffs last spring after a 17-12-1 inaugural regular season as a 17-year-old (he turned 18 in August). The team lost in round two against the eventual Memorial Cup champs Saint John Sea Dogs. This year on a team that seems stronger, he’s started 10-9-1, but has taken a backseat to the youngster Brandon Whitney, 17, who now sits at 11-1-1 with better numbers in all areas. Honzik still has a shot at making the Czech Republic‘s WJC team.
Alexandre Grenier, RW, Halifax Mooseheads
Acquired: 3rd Round (90th overall) in 2011 draft
After playing in his first QMJHL season in 2010-11 at 19 with the Quebec Remparts, where he managed 24 points in 31 regular season games and 16 points in 15 playoff games, Alexandre Grenier was drafted by the Canucks. After attending their 2011-12 training camp, he joined the Halifax Mooseheads and is a major contributor to a team that as of early December was 20-9-1-2 and tied for the league’s sixth highest point total. The 6’5 power forward has used his size to advantage on the powerplay where he’s scored seven times.
Sawyer Hannay, D, Halifax Mooseheads
Acquired: 7th Round (205th overall) in 2010 draft
A teammate of Grenier on the Halifax Mooseheads, Sawyer Hannay wasn’t drafted by Mike Gillis for his touch around the net and nor is he a coveted set-up man. Gillis was likely looking to make sure his team’s future doesn’t have the deficiencies it’s been accused of having in the past by grabbing the 6’4 Hannay 205th overall in the 2010 draft.
Hannay may have more minutes in the penalty box than on the ice and as of December of 2011 his totals into his third season in the QMJHL see him with one goal, 13 assists and 378 penalty minutes in 140 games. He had 34 fights his first two seasons but now that he has established himself, has only four through 28 games.
Kellan Tochkin, RW, Prince Albert Raiders
Acquired: Signed as a free agent, July 22nd, 2009
Undrafted Kellan Tochkin attended successive Canuck camps after signing a three-year entry-level contract in 2009. In the WHL he started with the Everett Silvertips where his first season in 2008-09 saw him net 20 goals and 74 points in 72 games. He scored 28 goals the next year and then in 2010-11 split the season between Everett and the Medicine Hat Tigers, scoring 29 times. Ten games into the 2011-12 season the 20-year-old was sent to the Prince Albert Raiders and in total has eight goals and 27 points in 30 games.
He’s a small forward that needs to play with heart and energy to be successful. Expect him to join the Canucks AHL affiliate at the end of the his season with Prince Albert and likely play one or two seasons in the minors before getting a shot at the big show.
Article was written by Marcus Hondro.