Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 4/30/12
Canucks need to take a good hard look at young Dane

The modern salary cap era in the NHL with its tight restrictions on spending has altered several aspects of team building. Perhaps the most important consideration is that it has clearly emphasized the need for teams to carefully select and develop their own talent.

If done right, good prospects bring a spark to their team and save a great deal of money compared to a veteran free agent.

The NHL has seen some great ones lately, and the question for us is what young talent in the Vancouver Canucks system has the potential to make a strong impact?

Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier, Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are three 2011 NHL draft picks who brought immediate returns to the teams that selected them.

For Philly, Couturier has provided a speedy, young centre who can check and score and he has been instrumental in their progress to the second round this year.

Landeskog and RNH on the other hand have sped up the rebuilding phases of the Avalanche and Oilers franchises.

The first Canucks player we will evaluate, as part of a series on the organization’s top prospects, is the second Dane in the Vancouver organization Nicklas Jensen.

Scoring off the wing was a distinctly weak aspect of Canucks play down the stretch

Although he was born and raised in Denmark, he lived for a significant amount of his formative years in Canada, where his Dad also played hockey. He is one of the youngest players in the Canucks organization but may well have the best long term potential, starring as a goal scoring right winger.

Jensen has excellent size (standing 6’2” and weighing 213 pounds already), speed and a very hard accurate shot evidenced by some recent numbers in the OHL and AHL.

Starting with his first two OHL seasons, Jensen has amassed 116 points in 118 regular campaign games.

That total also includes 54 goals on the back of that tremendous wrist shot.

In the OHL playoffs, Jensen has an even more impressive point per game average with 16 in 16 games. His goals frequency remains steady here at about one every two contests, with 8 markers in his OHL post season career.

Jensen was promoted to the Chicago Wolves minor league affiliate of the Canucks this spring, following Oshawa’s first round elimination from the OHL’s playoffs, and showed no sign of slowing down his goal scoring pace.

In the final 6 games of the Wolves regular season he scored 4 times, and continued into the AHL playoff round with 2 goals in 2 games.

Unfortunately, Jensen suffered a concussion in his second Wolves playoff contest and, despite reports that it was relatively minor, doctors and the Canucks organization have wisely opted to shut him down for the season so he can regain full fitness for next year.

Scoring off the wing was a distinctly weak aspect of Canucks play down the stretch and into the playoffs, so next year’s training camp could be an excellent audition forum for Jensen next year.

He already has the perfect mentor in fellow countryman Jannik Hansen, who has a terrific work ethic, speed and determination (although his hands are not at the potential of Jensen).

With a notable training camp, under the tutelage of Hansen and the coaches, Jensen could develop his overall game and even possibly projects as a larger, more physical replacement for Mason Raymond later in the year, if his play advances quickly following further seasoning in the minors.

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© C-Mac for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: 2012, AHL, Canucks Blog, Canucks Online, Canucks rookies, Canucks Roster, Chicago Wolves, Danish Hockey, Denmark, NHL, NHL Prospects, Niklas Jensen, OHL, Oshawa, Oshawa Generals, Vancouver Canucks

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