Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Building The Pipeline

Still with the prospects, Ed Willes (Vancouver Province) has a nice piece today on Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel and the relationship between the Moose and the Canucks. Needless to say, expectations are high this year.

As you may be aware by now, the Vancouver Canucks have assembled their best group of prospects in 20 years and the former NHLer has been entrusted with their development. That means the Moose, who won the AHL's North Division pennant in Arniel's first year behind the bench, will be young enough to qualify for day-care subsidies in Manitoba. And that means Arniel has to find the delicate balance between moulding the Canucks' youngsters into professionals while maintaining the Moose's success which is one of the trickiest jobs in hockey.

"We talked about this when I got hired two years ago," said Arniel, the former Moose captain and assistant coach who returned to Winnipeg last season after four years as an assistant with the Buffalo Sabres. "With the NHL the way it is now, you have to build from within. Your future depends on your young guys.
It does. Arniel mentioned the Sabres, but obviously, look at the Ducks as well. Both teams had young players step up and play key roles last season. With a salary cap, teams needs to get the most out of those on entry-level contracts before they get the big payday.

My favorite part of the piece is towards the end:

To that end, Arniel and Moose GM Craig Heisinger have become vital cogs in the Canucks' organization. It helps, of course, that Arniel went through a similar process in Buffalo when the Sabres were integrating their massive collection of prospects into the NHL team. But, largely through the efforts of Heisinger, the former Winnipeg Jets' equipment manager, the Moose have created the necessary environment for incubating the Canucks' young talent.

That environment has already helped deliver Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows to the big team but now the real test awaits. The goal, according to Canucks GM Dave Nonis, is to create an organization built along the lines of the New Jersey Devils of 10 years ago in which draftees come into a system and are taught a Canucks' way. That, in turn, is dependent on consistency and continuity throughout the organization and that starts with Arniel and his staff.
As an aside, add the Victoria Salmon Kings relationship as well.

The Canucks' farm system has long been considered a joke for its inability to produce NHL players. (Well, that and some horrible drafting.) But it sounds like things are finally being turned around. When the Canucks' relationship with the Moose started in the Brian Burke years, the overall talent wasn't there. The system produced a bunch of Harold Drukens and Justin Kurtzs. The talent is there now and all Scott Arniel has to do is make sure they make it the big show.

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, 6:35 AM


At September 11, 2007 3:24 PM, Anonymous GZ Expat said...

Hopefully they will ONLY mimic the organization (hey, does Nonis want to become coach now and then too?) and not the style of play. Ughghghg... The Devils were the beginning of the end of exciting hockey in the mid 90's.

At September 11, 2007 10:17 PM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

I agree, GZ. The last time I saw the Devils live at GM Place, they limited the Canucks to nine shots on goal the entire game. It was one of the most painful games I've ever watched.


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