2001-02 Season Previews: The Other Guys.

By Kirk Pedersen

The final installment of the 2001-02 previews, for unranked prospects.

Fedor Fedorovthe former Port Huron Border Cat was selected by the Canucks in the third round of this year’s draft. He re-entered the draft, after failing to come to terms with his original team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Let me first start out by saying that all Fedorov’s are not created equal. Fedor doesn’t have the talent of his older brother, Sergei, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not a talented player in his own right. Fedor is big (6’4″) and 217 pounds, and uses his size to his advantage. He had a great season in Sudbury, leading the Wolves in scoring, after being relegated to a checking role the season before. A fast skater with great balance, Fedor can open up the ice with his skating ability, much like his older brother, Sergei. He has good basic offensive skills, but nothing to suggest that he’ll be much more than an average offensive contributor at the NHL level. Fedor could possibly become a part of the Canucks future, he’s one of the few solid wingers in the system. He’s already played one season of minor-pro, and has worked hard at improving his game in Sudbury. He might make an impact if he goes to Manitoba this season. He remains unsigned as of today.

Will: Play hard, no matter where he ends up.
Can’t: Shake the shadow of Sergei.
Expect: Hard work, and good results, hopefully in the AHL.
Don’t Expect: An NHL promotion right away.

When Pat Kavanagh couldn’t sign with the Flyers, Bob Clarke and Co. traded him to the Canucks for a late-round pick in ’99. He added to the list of big bodies that like to go to the net. Pat had a good second season of pro hockey with Kansas City, scoring 26 goals. He was summoned to the Canucks during their play-off series with the Avalanche, and, despite limited icetime, did not look too overmatched. He never put up gaudy numbers in junior, but he’s a good banger. His size is a definite plus, and might make him a decent bargaining chip in trade negotiations with other teams, despite his lack of overall offense. He played smart, responsible defensive hockey when he was up in the playoffs against Colorado, and it showed me that he wasn’t just another big man with no skill. He could be a late-bloomer offensively, as his 26 goals this past season in Kansas City equalled his career-high, which was achieved in 1998-99 when he played for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. He’s a former second-round pick, so the Flyers must’ve seen potential in Kavanagh. He should get ample playing time this coming season in Manitoba.

Will: Try and work his way back to the NHL this coming season.
Can’t: Find consistency.
Expect: One of Manitoba’s better players, if he builds on last season.
Don’t Expect: Too much offense if he is to reach the NHL-level.

Darrell Hay is an offensive-minded defenseman who excelled in the WHL as a member of the Tri-City Americans. He began the season in the IHL with Kansas City, but was obviously very overmatched, going scoreless in nine games, and being banished to the ECHL. His play didn’t improve much there, especially considering that offense was supposed to be his main calling card. He put up a measly nine points, (5g, 4a) in forty games. A former first-round selection in the WHL draft, Hay went undrafted in his original draft year, (1998) but was selected by the Canucks in 1999, after putting up good offensive numbers with the Americans. Hay has a slight frame, which will more than likely keep him from ever making the NHL, with so much emphasis on size and strength today. He has good skills in his overall package, including a good point shot, and is a crisp passer, but he gets knocked around pretty good sometimes. He’s the son of former NHL and former Kamloops Blazers head coach Don Hay.

Will: Join the rush.
Can’t: Overcome size defiencies.
Expect: A renewed effort and dedication to the game after a miserable 2000-01.
Don’t Expect: A miracle. He has a lot of players to pass on the depth chart before even being considered for a regular spot, even in Manitoba.

A native of Surrey, British Columbia, Nathan Barrett led the Lethbridge Hurricanes in scoring this past season. Barrett is a very skilled player, and has been one of the best young Canucks at the rookie Camp that finished up recently. Nathan would be well-advised to work very hard to contend for a roster spot with the Manitoba Moose. He’s a talented player, who has good playmaking skills, and a nose for the net, but he isn’t big at 6’0″ and 180 pounds, but a lot of players that were smaller have went on to have successful careers. He led a sub-par Lethbridge team in scoring this past season with 99 points, (46g, 53a) in 70 games for the Hurricanes. He has shown a good skill level in scrimmages with the other rookies, but if he goes down to the minors to play against the big boys in Manitoba or Columbia (ECHL) this season, he might not survive. He is another one of the Canucks’ smaller prospects who could use twenty or so more pounds of muscle. He’ll be an interesting one to watch this season.

Will: Keep his motor running, and play his heart out.
Can’t: Play like someone four inches taller, and fifty pounds heavier.
Expect: Hard work, and good results.
Don’t Expect: A quitter.

The final selection in the 2000 draft was a kid from the Spokane Chiefs by the name of Tim Smith. A pint-sized centre, Smith placed third on the Swift-Current Broncos scoring list this past season, behind Layne Ulmer and Duncan Milroy, who are both (arguably in Ulmer’s case) NHL-material. Smith’s 90 points were very impressive on a Broncos team that were very impressive in their own right. Smith’s lack of size (5’9″) will more than likely prevent him from ever having an NHL career, but he could be a minor league superstar if he keeps up at this pace. He’s a good skater, has a quick shot, which is often in the back of the net, and is a good passer. He has some talent, but the NHL most likely will not come a-calling anytime soon.

Will: Score.
Can’t: Overcome his lack of size.
Expect: Gaudy numbers in the low minors.
Don’t Expect: Much playing time in the high minors.

The Canucks selected goaltender Kevin Swanson from the Kelowna Rockets in the late rounds of the 1999 Draft. Despite being undersized at 5’9″, Kevin Swanson has done a decent job since taking over as the #1 goaltender in Kelowna in 1998-99, after being traded there by Prince George. Swanson doesn’t look to have a spot on the Moose roster going into this season, so an ECHL seasoning assignment for ’01-02 isn’t out of the question. Last season, he tore his MCL, only causing him to miss seven weeks. He’s a tough cookie. He was helped along by Andy Moog’s brother, Darrell, when he was a member of the Rockets, so that might’ve aided him, or even possibly hurt him, in the long run. Only time will tell on that. His weaknesses are, obviously, his lack of size, which could be a problem, but a lot of smaller goaltenders have succeeded in the NHL. He often overplays shots, so that might be somewhat of a worry for the Canucks, but this can be fixed with some good coaching, and practice. That being said, has a good technical game, and he could be an effective goalie in the pros, although the NHL appears to be unlikely at this point.

Will: Add depth.
Can’t: Afford any slip-ups early this season.
Expect: A good effort every night, and hopefully spending the season in Manitoba.
Don’t Expect: A promotion to Vancouver.