Friday, September 03, 2010

Return of the Invitees

Yesterday the Vancouver Canucks announced the prospective roster for the upcoming Prospects Training Camp and Young Stars Tournament. 27 players will be attending the camp, which starts on September 10th. The roster features a bevy of exciting Canucks prospects, including Cody Hodgson, calming the unnecessary controversy created by the possibility of him skipping the tournament and going straight to the main camp.

The Canucks will ice a strong team, headlined by Hodgson and fellow first-rounder Jordan Schroeder. But the intriguing names, to me at least, are the names listed with an asterisk, indicating that the player is unsigned or undrafted by the Canucks. 9 of the 27 players are invitees, 6 of which were invited to the summer prospect camp I previously covered in Pass it To Bulis's Epic Two-Part Saga, "The Invitees." While these invitees don't have a shot at making the Canucks this season, they're all battling to get on the Canucks radar and possibly earn themselves a tryout with the Manitoba Moose.

None of the defencemen invited during the summer are returning; this is easily explainable as all of them are attending university and will be or are already at their respective schools. In fact, the only invitees not returning are all NCAA players. 5 of the 7 forward invitees are returning, as well as one of the two goaltenders. Check parts one and two of The Invitees for more information on these returning players.

Returning Invitees:

Kevin Clark, 22, RW - The Winnipeg native is already on the Manitoba Moose roster after his amateur tryout earlier this year.
Matt Fraser, 20, LW - After a brief stint with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, it doesn't look like he will be returning to the club, as he would likely attend the St. Louis Blues camp instead.
James Henry, 19, LW - Vancouver hockey fans will already be familiar with Henry from his time with the Giants, where he was a tiny terror with his tenacious style and a knack for playoff scoring.
Tayler Jordan, 20, LW - This fourth line fighter needs to fill out his 6'6" frame before he will intimidate professional-level pugilists. Still, at his size he could be a nice fit with the Moose.
Pierre-Olivier Morin, 19, LW - The Kurtenblog labeled him a player to watch, but had no details as to why other than the fact he needs to fill out his frame as he is only 162 lbs.
Michael Houser, 17, G - Another player to watch for the Kurtenblog, this time because he will be the youngest player at the tournament. He's still draft eligible, so he's in it for the experience rather than earning a tryout with the Moose.

That covers the returning invitees from the summer. But there are still three new invitees to talk about. By far, the most interesting invitee is David Fischer, for reasons I'll get into in a moment. Of the other two, one is a former Canucks draft pick that went unsigned and the other plays in the CIS.

New Invitees:

David Fischer - Defence
6'4" - 185 lbs -Feb 19, 1988
Apple Valley, MN

The 2006 Mr. Hockey was a first round draft pick for the Montreal Canadiens, 20th overall. The Canadiens had until August 15th of this year to sign him, but instead let him go to free agency after four disappointing years at the University of Minnesota. It's fair to say the Canadiens consider him to be a bust at this point, but will be thankful for the compensatory pick they'll get in the second round of this year's draft as they offered him a contract shortly after drafting him only to have him reject it in favor the NCAA. The scouts quoted in this recent article question his ability to make it to the NHL, labeling him an AHL player and saying that he made no progress whatsoever while playing for head coach Don Lucia, who one scout called "atrocious" according to Google Translate (which also hilariously translated a sub-header in the article as "Teaching Retarded"). Fischer played with Jordan Schroeder at the University of Minnesota, which may help explain his presence in the Canucks camp. If it's true that the coaching at the college level stunted his development, it's possible that he may flourish under better coaching in the AHL.

In any case, there's very little harm in extending a contract offer to a former first round pick; however, the Canucks already have a total of 50 contracts signed, which is the limit. Players that return to the CHL do not count against this limit, but it is unclear if the same is true for players returning to the NCAA or European leagues or when the Canucks need to comply with the roster limit. If Fischer impresses at the Young Stars Tournament, it may affect their ability to offer him a contract. If he turns out to be just as good as the Canadiens think he is, then it's a moot point.

Kris Fredheim - Defence
6'2" - 195 lbs - Feb 23, 1987
Campbell River, BC

Fredheim has a similar story to Fischer, except for the round he was drafted in. The Canucks drafted Fredheim in the 6th round of the 2005 NHL draft and chose not to sign him after four mediocre years at Colorado College. He did see some improvement in his senior year, posting 16 points in 36 games, a significant improvement over his previous three years. He remains loosely affiliated with the Canucks as he signed with their ECHL affiliate, the Victoria Salmon Kings, and he will look to work his way up the ranks from there.

Brad Smith - Centre
6'3" - 185 lbs - Apr 14, 1988
Summerside, PEI

Smith played for Saint Mary's University in the CIS this past year, where he managed 12 points in 28 games as a rookie. His main contribution, however, was the overtime goal he scored in the CIS Men's Hockey Final to lead the SMU Huskies to the championship. "To be honest, I think it's the biggest goal I'll ever score in my career," he said after the game, so he doesn't seem to see himself reaching the Stanley Cup Final at any point. His previous season was played in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League for the Summerside Western Capitals, where he finished second in the league in scoring with 84 points in 52 games.

Since the games will be streamed live on, Pass it To Bulis! may start their "I Watched This Game" coverage early this season. I, for one, am very eager to see our prospects in action, especially Hodgson, Schroeder, Connauton, Hannay, and Sweatt.


  1. Here's a clip of a great assist and then goal from Kevin Clark during the 2010 season. Note the defenseman he beats on the goal highlight is #20 David Fischer.

  2. Nice stuff, Donald, thanks for the link!


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