Although Zack Kassian has appeared in only 21 games as a Canuck, he is one of the most important players on the roster as we look to the future. He is the top prospect on the club (according to the Canucks Army writers). He is one of the best prospects in hockey according to a number of scouts, and he brings many attributes to the ice that the Canucks have lacked in recent years – physicality, size, and intimidation.
On the surface, it may seem like the Canucks (a contending team with a window to win that appears to be closing) wouldn’t be a team that benefits from missing any hockey in 2012-13. However, that isn’t the case. Read on to find out why.
The Canucks were extremely happy that two-way center Brendan Gaunce slipped all the way to pick 26 at the NHL Draft back in late June. Gaunce has spent the last two seasons in the OHL with the Belleville Bulls, developing into one of the best playmakers in the league.
The 18-year-old forward has been training over the past few years with Gary Roberts in the summers, learning from the likes of Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner, Cody Hodgson (hopefully they don’t talk about off-ice issues), and Cameron Gaunce, his older brother and a member of the Colorado Avalanche organization.
Gaunce scored 28 goals and added 40 assists in 2011-12 for the Bulls, nearly doubling the 36 points he put up as a rookie in 2010-11.
Byron Bitz was signed in the summer of 2011 to supply the Canucks with size and toughness. He missed the entire 2010-11 season dealing with hip and groin issues, and the problem lingered on throughout training camp and into the beginning of the 2011-12 regular season.
He finally made his debut with in February of 2012. Bitz went on to record four points in 10 games with the Canucks, including three over a two game stretch in early February. For that brief period, head coach Alain Vigneault played a hunch by sticking Bitz on the top line with Daniel and Henrik.
Bitz rewarded his coach with a breakout performance against the Predators on February 7th. Although his time on the first line was short lived, Bitz provided some excitement in a largely disappointing season for the Canucks (it sure feels strange writing that about a first place* club).
In addition to freelancing for fine sites like Defending Big D, I also am the editor and manager over at DobberHockey, a site dedicated to the world of fantasy hockey. We publish an annual Fantasy Guide, an annual Prospects Report, and a few other yearly hockey publications.
Fantasy hockey makes watching hockey even more fun. That is the truth, and the main reason why I participate in it. Having players on different teams around the league motivates you to track their performance, watch them play, and evaluate them against other players around the league.
In the final installment of a two part series exclusively for Defending Big D, I am going to profile the Dallas defensemen for 2012-13 from a fantasy hockey perspective. To read Part I on the Dallas defense, follow this link. Continue reading
Over the next 10 days, I am going to discuss the five teams that stand to benefit the most from the lockout, as well as the five teams that stand to lose the most.
Neither the owners nor the players want the outcome of the ongoing CBA negotiations to be a lockout, but both sides are prepared to remain in the sidelines for the first few months of the 2012-13 season.