Monday, September 30, 2013

What you (probably) didn't (care to) know about Zac Dalpe

Zac Dalpe is a little over 24 hours into his new tenure with the Vancouver Canucks. And sadly, Wikipedia remains devoid of interesting tidbits to sate my inner hockey geek. As pointed out by The Province shortly after the trade, the 23-year-old Ontario native is already familiar with BC, having played for the Penticton Vees back in 2007-08.

But caman. We can do better, internet! As far as obscure Google finds go, Pass It To Bulis got the ball seriously rolling with these NHL Award predictions from 2011-12. According to two out of five Hockey Prospectus analysts, Dalpe was your surest bet for the 2012 Calder Trophy. Take that, Gabriel Landeskog. 

But what else? I don't know about you, but when Dalpe gets that first call-up, I wanna be well-stocked with some truly mundane facts to casually toss into pre-game conversation. How else are you supposed to signal your superiority of unnecessary hockey knowledge?, don't fail me now. Let's begin with Dalpe's aforementioned Junior A career.

Would you believe that when Dalpe made the jump from Junior B in Ontario to the Penticton Vees, he played on the BCHL team alongside Cory Schneider? Well, you should and you shouldn't. Dalpe and Schneids really did team up on the Vees, as well as in Ohio State for a couple of years before both turned pro. This particular Cory Schneider, however, was born in New York and has not yet seen an NHL game in his career. 

Sorry to mislead. But the fact that there's another Cory Schneider out there that was born on the American East Coast in the late-80's and who played college hockey before turning pro is mind-blowing nonetheless, no?

At any rate. Back to Dalpe. 

A couple months into his tenure with Penticton, Dalpe got the call from Hockey Canada for the 2007 World Junior A Challenge. Despite being born in Ontario, Dalpe played for Canada West on account of his BCHL allegiances. With the West down 1-0 to Canada East in the gold medal game, Dalpe recorded a hat trick (two in a span of four minutes in the first and again in the third) en route to a championship against, essentially, his hometown side. With a tournament-leading five goals in total, he was named MVP ahead of several future NHLers who have since enjoyed a far higher profile -- two of whom include Russians Nikita Filatov and Andrei Loktionov.

Returning to BCHL play, Dalpe recorded 63 points in 43 games, while registering just 14 penalty minutes. As a result, he was named the BCHL Interior's Most Sportsmanlike Player. (So, there! Who says the Canucks are unsportsmanlike?)

After entering the playoffs with Penticton as the first seed, Dalpe scored 17 points in 15 post-season games to help his team to a Fred Page Cup as league champions. Advancing to the Doyle Cup for regional supremacy, Dalpe's Vees were defeated in the final by the Camrose Kodiaks, a team led by eventual Boston Bruins prospect Joe Colborne. (Does the rivalry know no bounds??)

The following year, he joined the NCAA ranks with Ryan Kesler's alma matter, Ohio State University. A quick scan of his Buckeyes profile reveals some real gems. You know a kid's Canadian when his favourite movie is Happy Gilmore. And you can tell that whoever interviewed him at Ohio State really dug deep for info because his bio is highlighted by the fact that "he can't live without his cell phone." 

Nonetheless, his exploits on the ice (when he wasn't on his cell phone, of course) were thankfully far more interesting. He was named to the 2009 CCHA All-Rookie Team after scoring 25 points in 37 games. He also won team rookie of the year honours and was nominated for the same distinction league-wide. As a sophomore, he was named to the NCAA West Second All-Star Team. Dalpe shared the honours with future NHLers Matt Read, Erik Gustafsson and Jeff Petry, while becoming the first Buckeye to receive the distinction since Canucks fan favourite RJ Umberger (2003). 

Foregoing his last two years of college eligibility, Dalpe signed with Carolina and spent the majority of the following season with the Charlotte Checkers. Scoring 57 points in 61 games, he ranked third in rookie scoring -- ahead of Adam Henrique (50 points) in Albany and well ahead of Cody Hodgson (30) and Jordan Schroeder (28) in Manitoba. As a result, Dalpe found himself on the AHL All-Rookie Team, alongside forward Luke Adam, defenceman Erik Gustafsson and -- wait for it -- goaltender Eddie Lack.

That's right. Now with one-third of the group on the roster, Mike Gillis appears hell-bent on recreating the 2011 AHL All-Rookie Team.

That takes us to his NHL career. In his eighth game of a mid-season call-up with Carolina, he scored his first NHL goal against former Canucks backup Johan Hedberg. Between then and now, he's totaled 5 NHL markers, the most impressive of which is likely this effort against the Atlanta Thrashers:

Did I choose to single out this goal because it's only one of two videos on YouTube of Dalpe scoring? Yes.

But also, if you freeze the video at 0:02, you'll notice that Dalpe begins the play behind three Thrashers in the neutral zone. By the time he tips the puck past Pavelec, he's a full stride past the closest defender. (Eat your heart out, Honey Badger.)

It may be one of only five goals thus far, but that's five more than Kellan Tochkin and probably five more than a fourth-rounder will ever get ya.

Smooth move, Gillis. Now to acquire the rest of the AHL's 2011 All-Rookie Team...


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