For the first time in at least a decade, the Vancouver Canucks’ youngsters won’t play a game as part of training campIn a move that puts them in a very small group of outliers, the Vancouver Canucks won’t put their prospects through a series of prospects-only games next September.Instead, they’re going to host a couple dozen prospects for a rookie camp at Rogers Arena, Sept. 7 to 10; those prospects will work with the Canucks coaching staff in this extra ice time and then will progress to the main camp, venue TBA, later that month.Every September from 2010 to 2018, the Canucks sent their future hopefuls to Penticton for a rookie camp, where they would play in the Young Stars Classic against other NHL squads. (To the disappointment of many fans, that event was put on hiatus earlier this year).And for many years before that, the Canucks would hold rookie camp that would usually culminate with a game against the University of B.C.’s men’s hockey squad.It’s all a bit surprising, since a month ago all indications were that the Canucks prospects would head to Alberta to face comparable squads from the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. Several members of the local media, including yours truly, were told as much.#Canucks will not replace Young Stars this year. Will play rookie games vs Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta. Still to be determined whether in one central location— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) April 30, 2019Asked Wednesday about the change in plans for the Canucks’ prospects, general manager Jim Benning said the decision was down to the reality of how many prospects they’d actually be able to bring to Vancouver next fall to fill out a team.“We’d have more invitees than prospects,” he said over the phone from Buffalo, N.Y., where he’s at the NHL draft combine.“That’s because of many of our prospects playing in Europe or college,” he added.But it’s still notable there was only one team in the NHL last September that did not ice a prospects team: the Florida Panthers.Every other club had youngsters in action, at tournaments in places like Traverse City, Mich, Las Vegas and Laval, Que.It’s not always wrong to be an outlier, but it is notable that teams that are spending big in the evaluation departments, like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings, are still all-in on prospects teams.So while Benning’s case does make sense — and further, how much evaluative value do teams actually get out of these games, which often feel more like street hockey — you do wonder if the ongoing penny pinching by ownership is also at play.As has been noted previously, the Canucks are running a very light front office these days. There was an audit of all team operations this past season, even on things like community programs which cost the team little, looking for savings.
Brock Boeser was one of the rookie prospects who stood out for the Canucks at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre in September 2017.
RICHARD LAM /
It was notable, for instance, that even as the 2018-19 season wound to a close, the team’s awards board in the hallway outside the dressing room hadn’t been updated since 2017. Not a big deal for the players — Brock Boeser probably doesn’t care that his name isn’t on the wall in recognition of him winning the 2018 NHL All-Star Game MVP — but it does feel a little like the old story of Van Halen’s “no brown M&Ms in our dressing room” request on their concert rider.It wasn’t about being absurd, or asking for things just-because, rather it was a leading indicator about the venue they were signing with: If their hosts served up the right candied snack, that meant they’d read all the details in their large show production’s checklist.As the story goes, the band was the first to take huge stage productions beyond just big-city venues; by including such a seemingly frivolous request, it was looking to see if the venue’s staff and management were paying attention.In other words, if band members found a brown M&M, what else had the promoters missed?The Canucks’ awards wall is something you’ve seen many times in the background of TV broadcasts, a listing of all the club’s award winners through the years, featuring both the annual team awards as well as recognition for special moments, like the players who have won the Hart Trophy (Henrik Sedin) or the Jack Adams Award (Alain Vigneault, Pat Quinn) or the Calder Memorial Trophy (Pavel Bure).It’s not a big thing, it’s not something the players habitually stop at and admire on their way into the team’s facilities.But it still gives you pause; there’s no money to update that?So, were prospects games — and the Young Stars Classic as well — dropped because of hockey reasons, or money reasons?
Listen and subscribe to our podcast from you mobile device:via Apple podcasts | via TuneIn | via Spotify | via StitcherIs the player not working? Click here.Post-draft prospects campThe Canucks also announced Wednesday they will hold their 2019 summer prospects evaluation camp in the week following the draft.All on-ice sessions at UBC’s Father Bauer Arena will be open to the public. The camp runs June 25 to 27.The roster at the June camp will be made up of draft picks from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, which will have taken place at Rogers Arena just days before, players selected in recent drafts, prospects signed as free agents like Jake Kielly, Brogan Rafferty and Josh Teves plus undrafted free agents from the NCAA, the CHL and Europe.firstname.lastname@example.org/risingaction CLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com.