Friday, September 08, 2006

Young Guns

The Vancouver Canucks' prospect camp started today at 8-Rinks (Burnaby) and goes on through the weekend. Here's a look at a couple of guys with real potential of making the big club.

Matt MacInnis of Hockey's Future recently looked at the top 20 Canucks prospects. On top of that list is 2005 1st round pick, Luc Bourdon:
Luc Bourdon is the Canucks top prospect and is the player the organization is looking to build its blue line around. At 6’2, 205 lbs with good skating and hockey sense, Bourdon is the complete package, and it appears that the Canucks intend on bring him into the NHL this season. Bourdon has demonstrated the skills to be both a very good two-way defenseman or to focus more on his own zone. While playing most of his junior career in Val-d’Or, Bourdon consistently contributed to the attack. However, at the 2006 World Junior Championships and later in the season after being traded to the Moncton Wildcats, Bourdon played more of a shutdown role, and was extremely effective.

The future is bright for Bourdon. With the current situation on the team’s blue line, it appears that he will be given every opportunity to crack the line-up. Bourdon has top pairing potential, perhaps filling the role of the team’s clear No. 1 defenseman in four or five years depending on how he is brought along.
Luc opened some eyes last season when he almost made the Canucks opening night roster. He followed up his strong training camp with a gold medal performance at the World Junior Hockey Championships and a trip to the Memorial Cup finals. Not a bad year really for the 19-year old, though this year, he intends to stick around Vancouver longer (from Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province):
As the Canucks prospects training camp gets under way, it's clear Bourdon is a vastly different person from last year's just-happy-to-be-here 18-year-old newbie who left an inerasable training camp impression people still can't stop talking about.

"A lot has changed for me since last year," Bourdon said. "And most of it is in my mind. Last year, I came in and I had no idea what it would be like. Everybody just kept telling me, 'Don't worry about anything, just have a good camp and have a good time.' But this year I know going in I have a shot to make it.

"I'm coming in this year with a new approach. I'm not here for fun. I'm here to get to business. I'm here with one goal in mind and that's to make this team."
Also hoping to make the team is ECHL grad Jesse Schultz. Again, here's Matt MacInnis:
Jesse Schultz may end up being the biggest success story among the prospects currently in the system if everything works out for him. After four seasons in the WHL spanning three different teams, Schultz was an undrafted talent signed by the Canucks. After scoring 48 points in 52 games for the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno in 2003-04, he earned a spot on the Manitoba Moose’s roster in 2004-05, scoring just nine goals and 24 points. He broke out last year, netting 37 goals and 30 assists for 67 points in 80 games. His strong play and rapid development over the past few seasons has made him a very real candidate to make the NHL as early as this season. His name has been mentioned by GM Nonis as a potential candidate to be the Sedins’ linemate come September.

Schultz has below-average foot speed which is likely the biggest stumbling block he faces in his bid to make the NHL. However, a strong performance at camp this year will give him his shot sooner than later. If he fails to make the team out of camp and has an unimpressive season, he could fall back to the bottom of the file as he has only had one strong AHL season. Schultz is most likely a boom or bust type who must seize the opportunity when it presents itself.
This opportunity, it's one he is taking seriously (from Jeff Patterson, Georgia Straight):
When the Vancouver Canucks put their players through physicals prior to this fall’s training camp, they may also want to send Jesse Schultz for some psychological testing. After enduring a winter in Winnipeg plying his trade with the Manitoba Moose, the 23-year-old right-winger made the conscious decision to spend the summer there too.

It’s one thing to live in Winnipeg if that’s where your job is, but when he had the opportunity to flee and spend his summer months back home with family in Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, or in Kelowna, where he played junior hockey, Schultz, by choice, stayed in the ’Peg.

Actually, he’s hoping that his decision to put in a little extra time in Winnipeg working out with Moose training staff all summer means he’ll never have to go back there again. Jesse Schultz, you see, is coming to the Canuck camp with one thing in mind: to stay and play in Vancouver and in the National Hockey League.

“Obviously, it’s my ultimate goal and something I’ve been working toward for a while now. I just tried to work hard in the off-season to get myself ready and, hopefully, come to camp in the best shape and give myself the best opportunity to make the team,” he told the Straight by phone from the Manitoba capital. “It’s going to be a big step. It’s a process, and I’m aware of that, but I’m willing to work at it. There’s a lot of guys in the organization that could possibly step up. It’s going to be a battle at training camp, and it’s going to be the guy that shows he wants it the most.”
The Canucks wouldn't have it any other way.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 9:41 PM


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