Canucks will be better off with relocated AHL team after buying Peoria Rivermen: GM Mike Gillis
Sergey Andronov of the Peoria Rivermen drives to the net against Abbotsford Heat goalie Danny Taylor during their October 2012 American Hockey League game in Abbotsford. The NHL's Vancouver Canucks announced Monday they have bought the Rivermen franchise from the NHL's St. Louis Blues.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG files
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis believes his National Hockey League team is doing just fine developing prospects, and will be even better after purchasing the Peoria Rivermen from the St. Louis Blues.
The Canucks will relocate the American Hockey League team from Illinois to an as-yet determined city nearer Vancouver.
There have been reports the Calgary Flames may give up their prime minor-league base in Abbotsford, which would thrill taxpayers in the Fraser Valley who have had to pay the Flames $3.58 million in the first three years of a sweetheart agreement in which the city must cover the NHL team's AHL losses.
Regardless of where the Canucks move the Rivermen, Gillis feels the autonomy of owning and operating a minor-league franchise will produce more NHL players for Vancouver.
The Canucks' two-year player-development agreement with the Chicago Wolves expires after this season.
“It allows our organization to focus on what we think is really important,” Gillis said before the Canucks' game here against the San Jose Sharks. “Sometimes what we think is important is divergent from what an independent owner thinks is important for his minor-league team.
“We get to make the decisions now. It allows us to plan and make decisions … to stock the team as we see fit to help our players.”
Two years ago, the Canucks explored the possibility of putting a team in Abbotsford but the Flames, one year into their favourable contract with the city, had no interest in moving.
The Canucks need to do better developing prospects, although Gillis bristled at the idea that suspect drafting and the trading of draft picks has left Vancouver with few grade-A prospects.
“When you look at our young players, we're really happy with Nicklas Jensen,” Gillis said. “We're really happy with Eddie Lack and Chris Tanev and Zack Kassian and Brendan Gaunce and Frankie Corrado.
“We've got lots of prospects. But if you ask people who comment on this, a lot of them would have no idea what the names are of these guys.”
Jensen, the 2011 first-round pick from Denmark who is considered the Canucks' best prospect, makes his NHL debut tonight.
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