If the Vancouver Canucks want to get this rebuild done the right way, they have to start with a strong pool of prospects.
The Vancouver Canucks need to draft well to be successful in their rebuild. Thanks to the scout-turned-general manager Jim Benning, drafting is no longer Vancouver’s Achilles tendon. That’s good news for the Canucks because they finally have a prospects pool that is worth ranking.
Drafting isn’t the end of the story, however. It is quite literally just the beginning for the majority of these prospects. If the Canucks want to get this rebuild done right, they need to develop their precious prospects well.
In the recent months following the Canucks’ full-hearted shift to a full-blown rebuild, fans saw that commitment in action. The two big trade deadline deals and the 2017 NHL Entry Draft gave this city a taste of the new Benning, a new organizational mindset that put skill and speed before size and heart.
The Canucks have adopted a new mentality with their prospects so we are going to take a closer look at these young prospects. We present to you Week 2 of The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking.
The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking
Our TCW staff ranked all Canucks prospects. The criteria: whatever each writer thinks is important. Current position in the organization, talent, potential, and chance of NHL success. All prospects under 24 years of age were considered as long as they did not spend significant time in the NHL.
After looking at the undersized Finnish forward Petrus Palmu last time, here is No. 15 late-bloomer defenseman Evan McEneny!
No. 15 D Evan McEneny
Weight: 203 lbs
DOB: 1994-05-22 (Age 23)
Drafted: Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent
2016-17 Stats: 64GP – 8G – 23PTS – 20PIM (AHL, Utica Comets)
After being forgotten as a prospect in the Canucks system, Evan McEneny is making a triumphant return to the hockey world. He even suited up for a game last year with the Canucks, something that even Jordan Subban has not yet accomplished. Rising from the ECHL ranks to now challenge for a spot in the Canucks lineup, McEneny deserves a second look as a late-blooming prospect.
Strengths: Defensive smarts, Size & More
McEneny’s fortes are found in his two-way play that results in a lot of shots and smart, low-risk plays. When looking at McEneny’s stat lines, his shots on goal stands out to be one of the best in the league. His shots/game ranked seventh overall in the AHL last season at 2.61.
Considering that he started out the Comets season as a frequent healthy scratch, this is a big step forward for McEneny. He also did not look out of place in his one NHL game last season.
A big reason that McEneny is being favoured over Jordan Subban, I would think, is McEneny’s mix of size and skating. Though both are great skaters, McEneny has a five-inch height advantage and a 20+ pound weight advantage on Subban.
Another reason McEneny is being lauded as a defenseman is due to his defensive smartness on the ice. He finds ways not to get into tough situations with the puck on his stick.
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He either slows the game down to make a strong and accurate breakout pass or picks his spots to skate the puck out of trouble using his frame and his skating. Subban, on the other hand, has a tendency to rush the puck too often.
Though nothing of solid evidence, the fact that McEneny has come back from multiple injuries to go through the hoops in the ECHL and the AHL to become the Comets’ top all-around defenseman speaks volumes about his character and hard work.
We should realize that McEneny got here as an undrafted free agent after impressing the Canucks in a tryout setting.
Should he continue to get stronger and find ways to play the game at a higher intensity, there is nothing stopping McEneny from making the NHL in the next couple of years.
Weaknesses: Lack of game-breaking abilities & Injuries
Although there are no glaring weaknesses in McEneny’s game, there are no elite aspects to his game, either. He does many things well but not superbly. He doesn’t have the dynamic offence that Subban does. Despite his size, McEneny is not gifted with the kind of massive frame that Andrey Pedan has. Olli Juolevi is a cut above in the hockey IQ department.
On another note, McEneny has had more than his fair share of injuries. He blew out his ACL in his draft season. In 2015 and 2016, he missed some ten weeks due to an upper body injury. The result was a lengthy conditioning stint in the ECHL.
Projection: Top-6 Defender
Personally, I like McEneny’s chances of making the Canucks in the next year or two. The Canucks currently do not have such an all-around talent who has a bit of size, smarts and skating (unless you want to make an argument for Ben Hutton after he gains a little) altogether.
Given McEneny’s well-rounded game, he should develop into a strong third-pairing guy and even look for some time as a top-four defender.
Bottom line, McEneny is a rather high-floor, low-ceiling option the Canucks have back in the fold after a few lost years.
– 2017 TheCanuckWay Prospects Ranking Top 20 –
It will be interesting to see how Travis Green decides to develop McEneny. Green was a key component to McEneny’s development this past season, eyeing the 23-year-old as an all-situations guy and giving him both penalty kill and power play time. Will Green continue the relationship with McEneny by giving him opportunities out of the main camp?