Risers and fallers in Canucks reranking

By Kirk Pedersen

Here is a ‘preview’ of sorts which would be leading up to the wholesale re-ranking of the Canucks prospect depth.
Many Canuck prospects have had solid seasons in 2001-02; but several have taken steps backward.

The Fallers

One player who more than deserves to be here is Thatcher Bell. The speedy Rimouski centreman has missed well over half of the season this year for the Oceanic, which has hurt their attack overall. He probably won’t be signed by the Canucks unless he turns in one heck of a playoff for Rimouski, and so far in two games, he has two goals and one assist for three points. Since he’s been drafted Bell has been a rather large disappointment, as all he’s done in the nearly two years since having his name called is get injured, and when healthy; not play up to his ability.

He’s got a lot of the tools to be a solid NHL’er; which include speed, shot, some intelligence, and decent hockey-sense. What he doesn’t have, however; is what will hold him back. He doesn’t have very much size, he doesn’t appear to care too much for the defensive aspects of the game, and his durability can be likened to porcelain.

So, to sum up, he’s easily been the worst of the two QMJHL Canuck picks of 2000. The progress of players such as Reid and Barrett has been excellent, even though Barrett and Reid didn’t really break through until their final year of junior. Bell was one of my favorite Canuck prospects going into the season, and, like the aforementioned Barrett; he’ll probably be looking for a new club to house his rights if he isn’t dealt before the draft.

Also falling is Mike Brown. By now, Brown should be a serviceable NHL’er. He’s been given the customary two-and-a-bit years in the minors to develop the kinks out of his game, and become a productive player, and to date, he hasn’t.

He needs to deter the opposition from taking liberties on Canuck players. Brown did nothing of the sort in his stints with the Canucks, which further proves my suspicion that he can only be a five-minute-per-night goon. He didn’t play well enough to be an enforcer on this team full-time. Brown showed little or no puck skills, (Which aren’t exactly a pre-requisite; but nonetheless important in any player.) poor skating skills, and gave very little effort on the defensive end; even though his shifts were very, very short. When called upon, he didn’t exactly answer the bell as a pugilist, only really having one decent scrap, and that was with the completely-overmatched Jason Marshall of the Minnesota Wild.

Brown can be a productive player, and a feared fighter, at the AHL-level. Now is the time for the Surrey native to take the final step on the road to becoming a good NHL enforcer.

The Climbers

Probably the main guy you’ll see taking a big leap in my next update is Brandon Reid. The pint-sized speedster finished a tear a little while ago which netted him ten goals and fourteen points in 14 games; marking the first point in the season in which Smyl decided to remove the velcro from his posterior that was keeping him on the bench. He’s currently fourth in Moose scoring with thirty-three points; (16g, 17a) and has been one of the better rookies over the past two or so months in the AHL. It was recently announced that Brandon would be on the Moose’ play-off roster for ’01-02; so he should probably play a large part in any play-off success for our farm club.

A basic outline of Reid’s skills for people who have been absent from my reports in the past: He’s got incredible wheels, which help him blow most defensemen in his path; a great shot; and decent leadership ability. What he doesn’t have, and what appears to almost be a necessity in NHL players today is size. He stands at a mere 5’9″ and weighs around 175 pounds, which is hardly the kind of size that makes it easily to the NHL today. Due to his size, he’s not much of a physical player, either; as his four PIM’s this season can attest.

If he’s to make it to the NHL, Reid is going to need to bulk up a little bit this off-season, and maybe spend a couple more years down in Manitoba, perfecting his defensive game.

The other guy that will have a bit of a push in the upward direction in my next report is Evgeny Gladskikh. The Russian forward has had a solid year in ’01-02; and should be primed to come over to North America to spend some time with the Moose next season. This season with Metallurg of the top Russian League; he scored five goals, adding six helpers for eleven points in 32 games. While those numbers may not appear to be too impressive; keep in mind that it doesn’t appear Gladskikh got that much ice-time with Metallurg.

His skill set is much like that of Canuck-regular Artem Chubarov. Hard working forward, who is solid in the defensive zone. He’s a very good skater, and even has some offensive instincts. He’s another player who is in need of some seasoning at the minor-pro level. He has hit the wall in his final fifteen games. (only three points)

He’ll likely be one of many new Moose next season, should he decide to come over. Gladskikh can be a solid performer at the AHL-level.