The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a youth movement. So, let’s take a look at the club’s top youngsters!
If the Vancouver Canucks want to make their ‘rebuild on the fly’ work, they need a strong foundation of young roster players. We all know the Bo Horvats and Ben Huttons of the team, but what’s after that? How are things for the AHL Utica Comets and what can we expect from the Canucks’ next crop of youngsters?
To answer those questions, our staff ranked all signed Vancouver Canucks players under the age of 25. After compiling a list of the top 10 Canucks prospects recently, this is all about who can help today. And guess what, the Canucks only have a total of 26 players under 25 signed and playing in North America right now. So let’s get to it.
#25 – D Evan McEneny
Team: Utica Comets (AHL) / Alaska Aces (ECHL)
NHL Experience: 0 Games
How He Got Here
Evan McEneny is an interesting player not so much because of what he does on the ice, but because of the way he ended up being signed by the Vancouver Canucks. In the 2011-12 season, McEneny appeared in two games for the OHL Kitchener Rangers before missing the remainder of the season due to injury. He was never drafted and didn’t get to show what he can do that season, but the Canucks decided to sign him nonetheless.
On September 13, 2012, the Canucks signed McEneny to a three-year, entry-level deal.
It might have been a situation similar to that with Rodrigo Abols this year, but with a different turnout. The Canucks wanted McEneny but instead of drafting him, they just signed him as a free agent. It turned out to me a good decision, as he is showing some offensive promise but struggling to establish himself at the pro level.
Where He Is Today
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In his first 44 OHL games, McEneny had just two assists and no goals. Luckily, the next few years turned out to be much better, especially after being traded to the Kingston Frontenacs. There, McEneny had 14 goals and 90 points in 114 games.
In 2015-16, McEneny played in just two AHL games and spent the rest of the season with the ECHL Kalamazoo Wings. It was, however, his first full professional season, so this is not the end of the world. In 36 games with the Wings, he had a goal and 25 points.
McEneny should get a chance to earn a full-time spot with the Comets this year, but his defensive play could hold him back. Mostly an offensive-minded defenseman, McEneny likes to chip in points while struggling in his own zone. He will need to improve that aspect of his game if he wants to move up in the system.
Where He’s Headed
The only reason why McEneny’s entry-level contract is still going is that he never played an NHL game, causing his contract to slide. Now, after five years in the Canucks system, his deal will expire in 2017, making him a restricted free agent next year. He really needs to show the club what he can do this year.
If he can secure a spot on the Comets, we will likely see McEneny in the Canucks’ system again next year. If he spends another full year in the ECHL, though, he would more likely be signed to an AHL contract or let go completely.
Being one of the first Canucks to ever play for the new ECHL affiliate in Alaska would probably be a fun thing, but I’m sure it isn’t on anyone’s bucket list.