Patrick Johnston, Postmedia Network | August 30, 2016
It all depends on how you look at it.
At the top end, it’s strong.
But the list just isn’t that long.
That’s the conclusion reached by ESPN prospect guru Corey Pronman, who has the Canucks 13th overall in the latest edition of his prospect pool ranking.
There’s plenty of reason to be excited about the golden trio of Olli Juolevi, Thatcher Demko and Brock Boeser. One could be a top-end defenceman, another an elite starter in net and the third looks to have elite sniper written all over him. The 2018-19 Canucks could be a real hotshot team.
Juolevi’s hockey brain is his most notable asset, Iain Macintyre wrote in early July.
“I think it’s the same thing for your whole life: whether it’s on the ice or off the ice, you have to be confident,” Juolevi, 18, explained. “Be yourself. Don’t be fake or anything. If you know your strengths, you can use those. If you’re good at something, you can say that. But you also have to know you have to improve other things.”
Demko’s set to spend a season in Utica, working with goalie guru Rollie Melanson.
After he signed on with the Canucks, leaving behind a stellar record at Boston College, he told Ben Kuzma he’s ready to take on the challenge.
“I’ve developed well and have had some success and I’m a guy who has always stepped up to the next level when the challenge is calling,” added Demko. “I did get the opportunity to play at the world juniors against (Connor) McDavid, (Max) Domi and (Anthony) Duclair and that’s the closest I’ve been to the pro game. I expect faster guys and the pucks is going to be moving quicker.
“It’s just an adjustment period from a physical sense and just learning the grind of a pro schedule.”
And Boeser did everything you could imagine a college freshman could do, and then probably more.
He could have turned pro, especially with his father dealing with Parkinson’s and his mom working two jobs to support the family, but Boeser said he wanted to do another year of education. The Canucks’ cap planning benefits too. They save another entry-level contract year and you’d think they’d want to slot him right into the NHL. Boeser at 20 will surely be even better dynamite than he will be at 19. Muscle does matter.
“There’s definitely a thought about helping support them and getting some money,” Brock said. “But they also wanted me to go back to school and get another year under my belt, closer to a degree.
“It wasn’t that hard a decision. I think Vancouver and I were on the same page. Another year would really help me develop. I think I took a big step this year and I think I can take another step next year. (The Canucks) agreeing with me really helped. They didn’t push on me.
“I think it helps me build a relationship with them. It made it easier for me to make the decision to stay.”
The depth, though, isn’t much. The list has names like Gaunce, Pedan, Subban, Cassels, Sautner, Stecher, Brisebois and Zhukenov on it. Those are all interesting names — the first two have already played NHL games of course — but none of them screams possible star like Juolevi, Boeser and Demko do.