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04-01-2010, 04:31 AM
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There is not just Gilroy and Bozek out of 2009

Hansen has had good AHL year for the Leafs and is on a low cap hit

Sexton has played well for the Ducks and is great cap hit for a potential top 6 player

Brad Thiessen was just named player of the week in the AHL and is on a bargain cap hit.

And there are others who remain viable prospects.

Given the success of many of these undrafted college players, the Canucks must pursue this avenue of improving the team.

Fact that you get into a bidding war is part of the process. But you always have the out of putting these players in the minors. If the player comes thru then you have the player at a decent price. Even with the bonus a player like Bozek, if continues his present rate of development, is well worth the money.

Moreover, as alternative points out, this is not an either or situation. Going after unsigned players like Rome or Funk makes sense but that doesn’t excuse or explain away a lack of success in going after the NCAA players. Team should be doing both.

The fact that some of these players get too much, or that many don’t work out, or that the Canucks are not a prospect friendly environment (and could note here Thiessen signed in Pittsburg which already has Fleury) should not be factors that stops the Canucks from pursuing these free agents. These seem little more than excuses or maybe explanation for the lack of Canuck success.

I think the age thing is a red herring. Obviously you might get more development out of a younger player but you probably get a better line on a player if he is a little older. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. What you are asking is the team to assess the talent as it is (developed or developing) and ask if the player looks like someone who can make the team better. If so, then regardless of the player’s age they should go after him. If the bidding gets too ludicrous then yes they shouldn’t go too far. But, since it is a cost that can be shuffled to the minors, then a team as rich as the Canucks should be willing to get thoroughly involved in the bargaining process.

My overall problem is that to date the Canucks have not used the undrafted NCAA player market very successfully. I say so for a couple of reasons

1. The players picked up so far have not looked like good prospects. Walsky was bad and Oberg looks too skinny and weak to play at the NHL level . When I see how bad Walsky was and how Oberg is struggling I have to question player assessment.

2. The Canucks have struck out with the major free agents. Apparently the Canucks were willing to pay heavily for people like Gilroy, Bozek and Baldwin but never could land these players. My question would be who are the contact people – who is approaching these players or their agents and trying to get them signed. As of now, that person is badly failing.

All this brings me around to questioning whether Gillis, in spite of his intention, has got this area well covered. And that fear is intensified when I see Smyl in charge of this department. I know something of Smyl and I have zero confidence in his ability to identify talent and in his ability to get these player under contract. If I’m Gillis and I see the results of what has happened so far in the area of improving the team through college free agents and I question what’s going on. I think any overall manager has to raise questions when something in the organization is not working.

There may be, as you suggest, mitigating factors that need to be considered. However, in the end, this is a results oriented business and if you are not getting the results then something got to change.

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