2001-02 Season Previews, From Vydareny to Reid.

By Kirk Pedersen

The Canucks have been a team in the past who have gotten quite a bit of high-quality talent from the NHL Draft. The past few seasons have been no exception. Since Brian Burke and his band of merry men took over in 1998, the Canucks have seen players such as Artem Chubarov and the Sedins take roles in the future of this franchise. With players such as Bryan Allen, Rene Vydareny and Brandon Reid set to undertake spots in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

Here are prospects #3-6, a preview and forecast of the upcoming seasons for Rene Vydareny, Alexander Auld, R.J. Umberger, and speedster Brandon Reid.

Rene Vydareny was drafted in 1999, in the third round, from Bratislava, in the Slovakian Junior league. He was the #12 European skater for the ’99 draft, ahead of such players as Luca Cereda, Kristian Kudroc, Andrei Shefer, and Mattias Weinhandl. He came over to North America for the 1999-2000 season, picking up thirty points (7g, 23a) in 51 games with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.

He missed a good chunk of this season due to a contract dispute with his Slovakian Club team, which blew up into him not being able to play in Kansas City, or with the Canucks, as stipulated in his contract. The Canucks spent the better part of a few weeks trying to wrestle the rights to Rene away from Bratislava, and eventually succeeded, although they paid an undisclosed sum to the Slovakian team for Rene’s services. He finally arrived in Kansas City, around the midpoint of the final season for the IHL. He didn’t score at all; (0g,1a in 39 games) but he showed flashes of the potential that the Canucks saw when selecting him.

Rene has good offensive potential, and a very good shot from the point, which he doesn’t let go nearly often enough. He is still incredibly raw, but his basic skills look very good, he’s a fast, albeit sometimes choppy, skater, and needs to possibly put on a bit more muscle. He’s very high on talent, but low on experience.

Will: Gain valuable experience at the AHL level this season with the Moose.
Can’t: Leapfrog over the glut of Defensemen that the Canucks have.
Expect: Improvement.
Don’t Expect: Point-per-game totals.
Predicted Role: Top 4 Defenseman in Manitoba.

The Canucks sacrificed a second rounder this season, and a third rounder next season to obtain the services of Alex Auld. Not only had they acquired one of the top goaltending prospects in all of hockey, but had won a bidding war to obtain him. He was selected to the Canadian National Junior Team this past season, and starred in his final season for the North Bay Centennials of the OHL.

Alex will be counted on to possibly start for the Moose next season, as there is a slim possiblilty, if the Canucks don’t find a suitable back-up, that Alfie Michaud could become the back-up to Danny Cloutier with the big club. (Wouldn’t that goaltending tandem scare off shooters?) Auld could be starting next season in Manitoba regardless of Michaud’s status. It will take the big goalie a while to get used to the AHL, and then to the NHL, but the Canucks have found their goaltender of the future, and Alex Auld is that man.

Will: Work hard to improve upon his flaws.
Can’t: Do it all himself, he will need a hand sometimes.
Expect: Hard work, dedication.
Don’t Expect: An NHL job on his doorstep right away.
Predicted Role: Starter in Manitoba.

R.J. has lots of raw skill, but needs to get more involved in the physical aspects of the game. For someone his size, he doesn’t participate in that facet of the game as much as observers would like. He’s a very good skater, with a powerful stride, and has excellent offensive skills. He could be a similar player to current Canuck Todd Bertuzzi, but he needs to get more involved physically before that can happen.

He will spend next season at Ohio State University, and will most likely be on the U.S.A. National Junior Team, which would be an excellent way for Canucks fans to see him first hand.

Will: Increase his scoring numbers in his second season.
Can’t: Jump straight to the NHL.
Expect: Excellent numbers.
Don’t Expect: A bust.
Predicted Role: Teaming with David Steckel to provide the best 1-2 Centre punch in Collegian Hockey.

Brandon Reid. is a smallish QMJHL player who had put up 124 points with the Halifax Mooseheads in the Q. He was traded to the Val d’Or Foreurs at the beginning of the season, and teamed with Thrashers property Simon Gamache, who had 184 points, to make the best 1-2 punch in Canadian Junior Hockey.

Reid is an incredible skater, with very good speed and balance. He has very good offensive skills, as evidenced by his junior totals of the past two seasons. He’s an excellent playmaker, and passer. He could be a very big part of the Canucks future, or he could end up flaming out, like so many big QMJHL scorers of the past.

With his raw talent, Reid impressed many people at the Canucks’ prospects camp, especially his skating ability wow’ed people who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a possible future fixture. However, his size is still a major drawback, but, a lot of smaller players make it just fine in the NHL, and Reid may overcome his size disadvantage. He will play in Manitoba next season.

Will: Do a lot of scoring.
Can’t: Grow.
Expect: Good points numbers.
Don’t Expect: A power forward.
Predicted Role: Possible top scorer for the Moose next season.