Canucks questions: October/November Edition.

By Kirk Pedersen

“Yammer” writes:

Does the successful camp of Fedor Fedorov have implications for future drafts? One thing that F2 proves is that the farm does not have guys with his NHL potential, or, logically, they would be there ahead of him. What makes him appealing is his size and skill package. He is a “home run” pick — i.e. bust or boom.

Absolutely. Fedorov’s strong camp shows that taking a risk on a player can sometimes be more beneficial than taking a ‘safe’ guy. There were no doubts in my mind, or in Brian Burke’s mind for that matter that Fedorov will be an NHL’er, but he had some strikes against him; namely a lacklustre work ethic and poor defensive play. All I can say is that I hope the successes of Fedor early on in camp (He didn’t impress me during his trials in the reg. season) show the Canucks that possibly going off the board to draft someone isn’t a bad idea.

Does that mean that the Canucks could/should use this as a key to their future drafting — to target the highest skill, impressive physical specimens (who might pan out or take off, no one knows) and to let others take the so-called safe picks, like the hard-rock defender (Allen) and defensive centre (Smith)?

To me, it does. If all things go to plan in the next few seasons, the Canucks will be a winning club; and will have progressively lower first-round draft picks. In theory, with a lower pick, you have less to lose, so rolling the dice on a player might be a distinct possibility.

However, I’m seeing this strategy begin to bleed through with the Canucks already. Three of the Canucks’ first four selections (Koltsov, Mensator, and to a lesser extent Skinner) were thought to be calculated risks; with Koltsov having an attitude problem, not to mention a poor season in his draft year (both of them); while Mensator was a bit on the smallish side; and Skinner not exactly a grade-A defensive D-man. While only one will be a high-risk high-reward player out of the three (Koltsov), none of those three picks are thought to be ‘safe’ selections.

The only pick out of the Canucks’ first four who was thought to be a ‘safer’ selection was Denis Grot, which means the Canucks are changing their draft strategy. That, I like.

AJ writes:

My question would be what the heck happened to Umberger?

In order for R.J. to even come to training camp with the Canucks, he would need to renounce his college eligibility, which is a definite no-no. The reason a guy like Kolanos got a shot with Phoenix was because he had signed a contract already, and therefore had to forego his final two seasons of university eligibility.

I like what Umberger is doing here; although it’s appearing more and more likely that this will be his final season of collegian hockey. As much as I’d like to see him finish his education and get a degree, the Pittsburgh-native could be an impact player for the Moose next season.

Also how’s our last year’s picks doing?

The only thing I’ve been disappointed with from our ’02 picks was Denis Grot’s inability to make Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s big team this season. The offensive (or stay-at-home, depending on who you ask) defenseman was thought of as a shoo-in to make the Superleague club this season, but so far, he’s been unable to do so. Skinner is in his freshman season at the University of Denver, collecting one assist in three games, which is a decent start for a first-year man. Lukas Mensator has been steadily improving with the Ottawa ’67’s of the OHL, splitting the goaltending chores with John Ceci. An .892 SV% needs to improve, but as he adjusts to the culture and language, it’s a given.

Bleedblueandwhite writes:

Why did the Canucks move Mojzis back to Seattle in the WHL instead of keeping in Manitoba?

You know, this has been puzzling the hell out of me for the better part of a month. My guess would be that Mojzis hasn’t had a really dominant season in junior, and returning to the T-Birds for one final hurrah was in his best interest.

This, coupled with the fact that the Moose blueline does have sufficient depth with guys like Chapman, Kurtz, Obsut, Vydareny, Helmer, Hay and Regan Darby. A likely scenario for Mojzis this season would’ve seen him spend much of his time with Columbia of the ECHL, which usually isn’t a huge confidence builder for a 20-year-old man.

Of course, this is just a theory of mine, and I could be wrong. In my opinion. Mojzis should be playing pro this season, somewhere; but, c’est la vie.

Westcoastexpress writes:

Is Brandon Reid on a top line in Manitoba?

Currently, Jeff Farkas is the first-line centreman, so Reid has been relegated to second-line duty. However, the Quebecois-born sniper has been seeing ample duty on the PP, and also on the kill; with a goal in each situation. Six points in nine games is a good start for Reid; but I’d like to see him kick it up a notch. Sixty points this season isn’t out of the question, provided he gets the needed icetime.

Dave Nonis was quoted as saying that there will be a lot of charters between Vancouver and Manitoba, as the Canucks feel they have an abundance of players that can make an impact at the NHL level and help the team. Would you agree?

I agree to a point. Many of the players in Manitoba (Komarniski, Kurtz, Bouck, Kariya, Farkas, Lindgren, Helmer, Vasiljevs, Moss and Fedorov) have some NHL experience, (not counting Chapman, Obsut, Auld and Kavanagh, who have had cups of coffee) but I wouldn’t consider too many of these guys to be full-time future Canucks. All of these players will provide solid depth, but few will make an impact in the NHL this season.

The depth is impressive, but if one of the Canucks’ top scorers goes down, I wouldn’t bet my last dollar on any of these guys to pick up the slack. That said, I would still like to see Reid and Fedorov get solid NHL icetime this season.

Given the uncertainty with military obligations with omsk, are the Canucks considering bringing koltsov to north america in the near future?

Personally, I hope the Canucks bring Koltsov over as soon as possible. Not just to get out of Russia, but so we can see how well his game transfers over to the North American stage.

Coming over would give the young Russian a lot of playing time, and he will get a fresh start. Hopefully, by Summer ’03, Kirill will be signed, sealed and delivered to Vancouver.

CC writes:

Any info on John Laliberte and what type of player he is?

From most accounts, Laliberte is an offensive winger. A native of Saco, Maine, he was named the offensive MVP of the EJHL in his final season there, racking up 103 points; (47g, 56a) which were dominating totals in a sub-par league.

He’s a good skater, with a solid stride and decent speed; an intelligent offensive player who was a natural sniper in juniors, and has exceptional creativity with the puck. Defensively, he’s an average player; he doesn’t like to come back as much as many, but defensive responsibility can be taught. Skill can’t. I will be monitoring his progress closely during his tenure at Boston University.

Kickassguy writes:

What kind of role is Jason King expected to play in Manitoba this year?

This is Jason’s first pro season, and just drawing into the line-up every night with average contributions offensively will make the Moose’ staff happy. In junior, Jason was somewhat of a late-bloomer, but blossomed into one of the most feared snipers in the QMJHL. He’s a good skater, plays a good physical game, and has decent size. King has a good shot off the wing, which he uses often. I would expect this young Newfie to collect somewhere along the lines of fifteen goals and thirty points this season.

How’s Mensator doing in the OHL so far?

Lukas is slowly adjusting to the nuances of playing in North America; when he first arrived, there was a great deal of culture-shock involved in the young Czech’s life. Despite the rather large handicap of not being able to speak english, he was helped immensely by fellow Czech’er Karol Sloboda, who now acts as a translator for Lukas.

After the aforementioned slow start, the pint-sized goaltender has rebounded; his numbers have gotten progressively better (he has a 5-2 record, with a 3.29 GAA and a .892 SV%) from the beginning of the season, and he looks poised to overtake John Ceci as the starter with the ’67’s at some point this season.