Canucks 2009-10 NCAA prospects update

By Jon Hagan

The Vancouver Canucks currently have six prospects playing in the NCAA: three forwards, two defensemen, and a goaltender.

Jordan Schroeder, C – University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)

Acquired: 1st round (22nd overall), 2009
29 September 1990, 5’9”, 180 lbs.

Even though he didn’t exactly come bursting out of the gates at the start of the year (no goals and only five assists in eight games), there was never any doubt in U of M’s assistant coach Grant Potulny’s mind that Jordan Schroeder was only experiencing some minor growing pains.

“Jordan just turned 19 and there’s a little bit of a learning curve for everybody that age,” Potulny told Hockey’s Future prior to the World Juniors. “Just getting to areas where there’s traffic and getting into position where he can use his skills. Sometimes young players struggle with finding the way to get to the area where they can let their talents shine, and that’s usually in the high-traffic areas.”

As the season progressed, it looks like Schroeder got on with that learning curve and accomplished a lot in the process. First, he squashed persistent rumors that he was going to be leaving Minnesota to play in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, then he played in the World Junior Championships, scoring three goals and assisting on five others, helping the Americans to gold while simultaneously establishing himself as the United States’ all-time leading point producer in World Junior Championship play; finally, he returned back to Minnesota where up to the week ending Jan. 24 has now posted 19 points (five goals and 14 assists) in 24 games tying him with Tony Lucia (SJ) for the team lead.

With an injury to Mike Hoeffel (NJ), Zach Budish (NAS) and Jacob Cepis have found their way onto the No. 1 line with Schroeder and the three seem to be clicking. 

Taylor Matson, C – University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)
Acquired: 6th round (176th overall), 2007
16 September 1988, 6’0”, 185 lbs.

With two years left of NCAA eligibility after this one, the fleet-footed Matson needs to start proving that he can put the puck in the net. He’s only hit the twine twice this year.

“I play as hard as I can each and every shift and that’s what it takes to compete at this level and to be successful,” Matson told Hockey’s Future before Christmas. “I use my speed to my advantage and as a result of that I’m making plays on the ice. I think I should be able to score more goals and shoot the puck some more. These go hand in hand, the more you shoot the more goals you are going to score.”

But with only 23 shots in 19 games, it seems that Minnesota native needs to convince himself that this self-evident truth needs to be applied in order to be realized. Unfortunately, if this was one of his New Year’s resolutions, he won’t get a chance to enact it. On Jan. 2, in a game against Bowling Green, the sophomore suffered an ankle injury, which is expected to sideline him for the remainder of the regular season. A return for the playoffs, however, hasn’t been ruled out. This is Matson’s second serious injury in as many years. He injured his knee last year effectively ending his freshman campaign after only 13 games.

Matson, Schroeder, and the rest of the Golden Gophers are fifth in the conference and are 12-12-2 overall. 

Kris Fredheim, D – Colorado College Tigers (WCHA)
Acquired: 6th round (185th overall), 2005
23 February 1987, 6’2”, 190

Fredheim has really tailored his game to becoming a sound defensive player, but with three goals and six assists in 23 games, he’s also showing that he can contribute in the offensive zone.

"Kris is a ‘blend’ defenseman who is very mobile and can play a lot of minutes,” Tigers’ Coach Scott Owens told Hockey’s Future before the Christmas break. “He has developed into a very good defender because of his range and size, and is contributing on the power play as well. He’s currently playing some of his best hockey since he’s been at Colorado College and is exuding confidence each time he steps on the ice.”

And that confidence is feeding the defenseman’s growth as a player as well as his legitimacy in cracking the top 20 as a prospect for the Canucks.

"If Kris can continue to build on what he’s accomplishing so far this year defending well, some physicality, simple breakout passes and contributing offensively from time to time ­ he has a chance to go far. How far he goes and where he ends up exactly is dependent on his adaptability to the pro game and his continued development."

Colorado College is tied for third place in the WCHA, with a 14-9-3 overall record.

Jeremy Price, D – Colgate Raiders (ECAC)

Acquired: 4th round (113th overall), 2009
26 September 1990, 6’1”, 190 lbs.

As a freshman, Price has recorded six points in 22 games and has a -4. He leads the Raiders in power play shots with 25 and two of his goals and one of his assists have come in that category. So far this year, Price has only missed one game (Niagara) and that was due to an illness.

Price’s weakness is a tendency to panic with the puck and just advance it north-south or pass to his partner. He will need to look for an outlet pass and be more creative.

As of January 25, Colgate is in the middle of the pack for ECAC divisional play and has an overall record of 9-9-5.

Matt Butcher, LW – University of North Michigan Wildcats (CCHA)
Acquired: 5th round (138th overall), 2005
1 January 1987, 6’2”, 205 lbs.

Wildcats Coach Walt Kyle told HF on Jan, 26 that Matt Butcher had suffered a busted finger and an unspecified lower body injury thus limiting him to 16 games so far this year, but both injuries aren’t regarded as serious and the winger is expected back soon. 

Butcher currently has three goals and five assists in that span. Two of his goals have been game winners, tying him for the team lead in that category with Ray Kaunisto and Phil Fox.

Going into the fourth week of play in January, the Wildcats sit third last in the CCHA with a 10-10-6 overall record.

Joe Cannata, G – Merrimack Warriors (HE)
Acquired: 6th round (173rd overall), 2009
2 January 1990, 6’1”, 200 lbs.

So far through 21 games this year, Joe Cannata and Andrew Braithwaite have split the goaltending duties for the Warriors roughly in half, with a slight edge in games going to the former. 

Cannata, a product of the USNTDP, is a 6’1 goaltender who plays a sound positional game with a strong butterfly. His disposition is unflappable.  

In fact, Merrimack Coach Mark Dennehy told Hockey’s Future that Cannata has a similar mental approach to Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick (a player that Dennehy helped recruit to the UMass-Amherst).

“Jon plays more of an athletic game as opposed to Joe’s butterfly, but they have a lot of similarities,” he said. “They play a different style of game but their mental approach is quite similar. They’re both very competitive.”

In Dennehy’s mind, it was quite a coup for Merrimack to get Cannata. “To get him really put a stamp on the program. He went into the situation where there were two incumbent goaltenders already and he became the No. 1 in a pretty short amount of time.”

But he wasn’t able to hold onto the No.1 slot. In the 12 games that Cannata has played in this season, he’s compiled a record of 3-9-0 with a save percentage of .876 and goals against average of 3.81. But Cannata isn’t the only player to be struggling. Merrimack sits second to last in Hockey East with an 8-13-0 overall record.