Well, as you know, the Free-Agent frenzy has begun. Teams go to the marketplace looking for the next quick fix. Players who have great seasons are rewarded with big, fat contracts, by their own team, or by a suitor who is willing to pony up the dough.
Players who are largely considered to be average contributors to their respective teams, such as a Martin Lapointe, recieve a free-agent windfall. I hardly think one above-average season (scoring-wise) denotes that someone has a huge contract waiting for them in that off-season, but I’m just taking up dead air. My philosophy has become that of: If someone is dumb enough to pay that much, then the player should take it.
Oh well, enough with my free-agency rant. I must be just frustrated because Burke has yet to do anything. I’ve learned to set my sights low with Burke, because when I do that, he always ends up surprising me, and most of the time, it’s a good surprise.
Just getting back to Scott’s point about Steve Heinze, I think that Steve would be a wonderful addition to the Canucks, and he’d qualify as our biggest signee since Andrew Cassels, which was undoubtedly an excellent move by Burke and his cronies, but it seems unlikely, as the big American dollar signs will most likely lure Heinze ’57’ to the States, but, all’s fair in love and war.
Enough with my chatter, on to the important stuff, the prospects!
Let’s start right at the top, shall we?
1. Allen, Bryan
Bryan Allen spent his first full pro season almost entirely with the Canucks’ top affiliate in 2000-01, the Kansas City Blades. I feel he really turned the corner in his development by proving that he is not injury prone, and playing a full, healthy season. He still has a ways to go, but I have not a doubt in my head that he will get there.
2000-01 Kansas City 75gp 5g 20a 25p 99pim
2000-01 Vancouver 6gp 0g 0a 0p 0pim
2. Chubarov, Artem
This season was a total wash for Chubarov. He hurt his shoulder not long after being demoted to Kansas City early in the season, and did not recover. He only has one NHL goal to his name, in fifty total games, but I feel that he may one day become a good scorer at this level. He just needs a push in the right direction. A healthy, full season, would definitely be a big plus for the skilled Russian forward.
2000-01 Kansas City 10gp 7g 4a 11p 12pim
2000-01 Vancouver 1gp 0g 0a 0p 0pim
3. Vydareny, Rene
Another player who had a very poor season, Rene was unable to break out of his contract agreement with his Slovakian club team, in order to begin his career in North America, so he ended up missing about half of the season as a result. He began play in Kansas City, and, even though the offensive numbers weren’t even close to his potential, Rene just might be a diamond in the rough for the Canucks, there isn’t a doubt that he has the talent, but he will have to work hard to unleash it. He’s still very raw.
2000-01 Kansas City 39gp 0g 1a 1p 25pim
4. Reid, Brandon
Reid had an excellent season for Val d’Or of the QMJHL. He teamed with Atlanta Thrashers prospect Simon Gamache to form a 1-2 punch as good as any in Canadian Junior Hockey this past season. He has amazing wheels, and a great hockey sense. He helped lead the Foreurs to a Memorial Cup Final Berth, unfortunately, they lost 6-5 to the Red Deer Rebels, who came from behind to win. Reid will spend next season with the Manitoba Moose of the IHL, and will hopefully be ready for the Canucks in a couple of years time.
2000-01 Val d’Or 57gp 45g 81a 126p 18pim
5. Umberger, R.J.
Umberger, the Canucks’ top Draft Pick at the June Draft, had a super first season with the Ohio State Buckeyes. He wasn’t named CCHA Rookie of the Year for nothing. He averaged more than a point per game in his first season of major College Hockey, which is an excellent feat. I was elated to see him slip to the Canucks at the sixteenth overall pick, he was definitely a steal, especially after Edmonton, the team I figured would pick him, reached out for Hull Olympiques scoring machine Ales Hemsky. An integral part of the Canucks’ future.
2000-01 Ohio State University 32gp 14g 22a 36p 18pim
6. Auld, Alex
Auld, who was acquired for a second rounder this year (Recieved from the NHL as compensation for the Rangers signing Mark Messier), and a third rounder next year, looks to be the biggest hope of all Canucks prospects to solve our goaltending woes. A member of the Canadian National Junior team alongside Maxime Ouellet, he didn’t play much at all, and looked a bit rusty in the WJC, but, that’s all moot, as the former Florida Panther property sparkled in the regular season for North Bay of the OHL, compiling a 2.54 Goals Against Average, and a Save % of 917, both very solid numbers for the future Canuck. Goalie of the future, unless Cloutier does anything to cast dispersions on my prediction.
2000-01 North Bay 40gp 22 wins 11 losses 5 ties 2.54 gaa .917 sv %
7. Smith, Nathan
The Canucks First-round pick in 2000 had a very good season for the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. He’s a prototypical third line grinder who won’t wow anyone with his skills, or any other part of his game, but he’s very good across the board. The Canucks should be so lucky to see him reach his full potential here. I like Smith, but I think he was a reach where the Canucks drafted him, but, only time will tell.
2000-01 Swift Current 67gp 28g 62a 90p 78pim
8. Michaud, Alfie
Alfie Michaud, who was signed as a free-agent following an outstanding final season as a Maine University goaltender, had a solid season as the backup to Corey Schwab in Kansas City, compiling fourteen wins for the Blades, in the final season of the IHL. He’s not seen as too big a part of the Canucks future, although I’m not sure he ever was, especially with the acquisition of Alexander Auld, and the signing of Kevin Swanson. Nevertheless, he should start in Kansas City next season, unless he becomes Dan Cloutier’s understudy in Vancouver, which may be possible, if Brian Burke is unable to find a suitable veteran replacement for Bob Essensa.
2000-01 Kansas City 32gp 14 wins 14 losses 2 ties 3.14 gaa .904 sv %
A third-round pick in 1996, Zenith Komarniski just finished his third season of pro hockey in the Canucks’ minor league system. He has improved steadily every season, and even got an 18-game tryout with the big club in ’99-00. He has a good shot from the point, and good offensive instincts, and plays an average defensive game. I think he can be much better on both sides of the coin, but, it’s up to him. I think he’s still got a future in this organization, but, more offense next season in Manitoba would be nice.
2000-01 Kansas City 70gp 7g 22a 29p 191pim
10. Bell, Thatcher
Another player flushed out of the QMJHL, he was HF’s top QMJHL prospect going into the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He slipped into the third round, and right in to the laps of the Canucks. He has very good speed, a good shot, a good passer, who has very good skills across the board. However, the one problem, as per many youngsters is, he needs to add a bit of muscle, which would round out his game nicely.
2000-01 Rimouski 46gp 27g 32a 59p 77pim
The former Saskatoon Blade and Red Deer Rebel failed to build upon his success which he achieved in his first season of pro hockey, with the Syracuse Crunch. He’s still as mean as they come, but, the same knocks on him still remain. He’s a poor skater, and has rotten puck-moving abilities. These are things he should work on this summer. He had a solid season overall, but it didn’t match up to his first pro campaign.
2000-01 Kansas City 80gp 2g 9a 11p 127pim
12. Holden, Josh
Largely a bust so far, Josh Holden has battled injury after injury thus far in his pro career. This season, I believe he is beginning to turn a corner. He had a good season in Kansas City, scoring nearly a point per game average, before being called up to the Canucks. He played well in limited time there, but was shuttled off to KC once their playoffs began. He may still have a future as a Canuck, but will most likely be dealt to another team, if Burke can find a player he likes, of course.
2000-01 Kansas City 60gp 27g 26a 53p 136pim
2000-01 Vancouver 10gp 1g 0a 1p 0pim
13. Brown, Mike
Another player who has so far been a disappointment for the Canucks since he was traded to us from Florida in the now infamous Pavel Bure trade. He is a tough, hard-nosed centre, who was made a first-round pick by the Panthers in 1997, so he must’ve been doing something right. He has only seen the light of NHL-day once thus far in his career, and if he doesn’t step it up, he might never see it again, in a Canuck uniform, anyway.
2000-01 Kansas City 78gp 14g 13a 27p 214pim
2000-01 Vancouver 1gp 0g 0a 0p 5pim
14. Morrison, Justin
No relation to current Canucks playmaker Brendan Morrison, Justin is a big, strapping power forward-type, with a lot of raw skill. He had a very good college career at Colorado College, putting up 21 goals in his senior year. He should report to Manitoba next season.
2000-01 Colorado College 41gp 21g 14a 35p 42pim
15. Branham, Tim
Tim Branham had a season to build upon with the Barrie Colts in ’00-01. The smooth-skating American defenseman had seven goals and thirty-two points for the Colts, who placed fourth in the OHL’s Central Division. His future in the organization looks bright, but he still will have to leap-frog over more experienced defensemen such as Ryan Bonni and Zenith Komarniski.
2000-01 Barrie 68gp 7g 25a 32p 77pim
Well, that’s my final analysis on the Canucks prospect situation for the 2000-01 season, and my free-agent rant. I hope you have as much fun reading it, as I did writing it, we have a super group of fans over here, and I hope you’re all back next year. I’ll still be here in the summer, writing articles for the ‘Canes and the Canucks, and I hope to see all of you in September for Training Camp, but, hopefully, you all can pop in and have a look at my summer articles. Thank you very much for your past, and continued support.
I’m Kirk Pedersen.