Unlike many other fans who seem preoccupied and fascinated with the prospects reporting to camp over the past week, I’m afraid I have a really hard time caring. It all reminds me of the opening day of tryouts for any kids’ sports team, when every bozo is looking for a spot.
And while these are all talented hockey players and not bozos by any means, I struggle to find it interesting in the initial stages.
One problem is that I have no memory for names and stats unless I’m immersed in them over time. (And hell, there are even some NHL players out there I stumble across every so often that I swear I’ve never heard of in my life, yet apparently have been around the block awhile). So clearly, I’m not the type who is quickly educated about these new players, and I find it’s easier to leave the statistical memorization till a point when the cast has been thinned out a little.
The other reason for my early ambivalence each year is that I find the whole process to be largely predictable, particularly in Vancouver. Canucks training camps will produce the occasional bright light who gets some time with the big club (i.e. Jason King a couple years ago) but few manage to stick with the club long-term from the season opener. Alexander Burrows was an exception to this, I suppose, but a rare one.
But there is a point that it does all start to get interesting. And with the pre-season oncoming, I’m starting to care who’s in the crowd.
15 players from the prospects camp survived the cut and will line up with the big boys. Among those with connections to Victoria are 2007 second-round draft pick and former Peninsula Panther Taylor Ellington and former Salmon Kings Patrick Coulombe and Shaun Heshka on defence and ex-Kings goaltender Julien Ellis.
Some local kids are getting a chance, so that’s fun. Plus we can now focus on, even if only briefly, the competitive hearts of players like Cory Schneider, or Luc Bourdon—is this finally the year he makes himself matter?
Bourdon has suffered over the past two seasons from a tremendous lack of consistency in his surroundings. He’s played for two different QMJHL teams, the Canucks, the Moose plus a pair of WJC teams. While the experience of playing at higher levels will certainly benefit him, one cannot deny that his development over the past two seasons has not been as good as initially hoped.
Bourdon remains a top prospect but the 2007-08 season will definitely be a major factor in determining if he becomes a #1 or a second-pairing defenseman.
Bourdon is fascinating all on his own.
But J.J. is optimistic about the future of Canucks prospects these days, so perhaps I need to start caring more. From Canucks Hockey Blog, he comments:
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.
Let’s hope so.
Here is the ranking of players from Hockey’s Future: