Thoughts and forcasts for my top two prospects, a preview of the upcoming seasons for Bryan Allen and Artem Chubarov.
Bryan Allen was the Canucks’ top pick in 1998, the #4 pick overall, and, despite numerous injuries in his second season of junior, was expected to step right in, and help a poor defense, which had decliners in Dave Babych and Dana Murzyn, but had two young rays of hope, in Bryan McCabe and Mattias Ohlund. (McCabe being obtained toward the end of the season, along with Todd Bertuzzi, in exchange for Captain and team leader Trevor Linden)
Allen was not looked at as an offensive player, but as a stay-at-home type, who could provide some toughness when needed. He was badgered with comparisons to current NHL’ers, such as Derian Hatcher, which would scare most youngsters, but the cool, confident Allen was unshaken by this. All he needed to do was play his own game, and, despite a lack of offense, he’d be a very good NHL Defenseman.
To this day, however, Allen’s promise remains unfulfilled. After missing almost the entire 1999-2000 season due to injuries, he came on strong in ’00-01, spending the entire season injury-free, something he hadn’t done since his rookie season with the Oshawa Generals in 1996-97. He racked up 25 points (5g, 20a), and nearly hit the century mark in penalty minutes in his first full pro season. He began to show why he was such a high draft pick, and was one of the top vote-getters for the IHL’s final Rookie of the Year award, which ended up going to Atlanta property Brian Pothier. He also recieved a late-season call-up with the Canucks, after Jason Strudwick was injured, and impressed me a great deal with his gusto on the defensive end, and his physical play.
Many people figured that Allen was a virtual lock for a roster spot going into this coming season, but the re-signings of Baron and Berehowsky either mean that there is a trade in the works, or that management believes that Allen needs another year of seasoning at the AHL level with the Canucks’ new affiliate in Manitoba. He is more than ready to step in full-time with the big club, but another season down on the farm wouldn’t hinder his development at all.
If he makes the team in ’01-02, he should be brought along slowly, to prevent injury, and also not to play in high-pressure situations, in case he makes a mistake, because it might hinder his confidence in his own play. All things aside, babying Allen could be a good idea, but if he’s only going to get 10-15 minutes per game up in the NHL, it would do him a lot of good to be down in Manitoba, getting 25-30 minutes per game, instead.
Will: Play excellent positional defense, make crisp passes, hit.
Can’t: Score like Jovanovski or Ohlund.
Expect: A big, mean return on their investment of the #4 pick.
Don’t Expect: 50 points.
With their second pick in 1998, the Canucks selected a centre from Dynamo Moscow by the name of Artem Chubarov. In the 1998 Draft Centre on HF, he was ranked #49 Overall.
Chubarov was a Brian Burke special. He doesn’t have one dominant skill, but he’s got very good skills across the board, but, as previously stated, won’t kill you twice with the same thing.
He had an injury-riddled second season in North America, but in his short time with Kansas City, he averaged a point per game, which is pretty good in any league. He doesn’t project to be a huge scorer at the NHL level, but he may very well be an important player in the Canucks’ future, but he’s not quite there yet.
He has a slim chance of making the Canucks next season, but if Denis Pederson is not offered a contract, he could step right in to a fourth-line checking role. If he stays down in Manitoba next season it would help his development, just like Allen. Like Allen, he also needs to have an injury-free season before he can become a full-fledged NHL’er.
Will: Score in minor pro.
Can’t: Dominate with one skill.
Expect: Point-per-game pace in the minors, adding a spark to any team he plays on.
Don’t Expect: Much impact in the NHL this season.