The Vancouver Canucks are currently in the midst of a major rebuild. They finished with the second worst record in the NHL at 30-43-9 last season and missed the playoffs for the third time in four years.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin appeared to be on their last legs. Despite suiting up for all 82 games, the twins collectively put up 95 points together last season.
On the bright side, the Canucks have gradually collected a decent group of prospects over the past few years. Many of these players have potential to become quality NHL players and will be vital in the Canucks’ hopes of being a playoff team again.
In the hopes of that, we will take a look at some of the top prospects in the Canucks’ system right now, heading into 2017/18.
1) Brock Boeser – Right Wing
Brock Boeser had a short but decent run with the Canucks last year. He played nine games for the club before being sent back to the University of North Dakota. However, Boeser showed his offensive potential, by scoring four goals and five points in his nine-game stint.
According to Eliteprospects.com scouting reports, Boeser is “a dynamic offensive winger and natural goal scorer. He has great instincts and is able to quickly get into position for premium scoring chances; [and] possesses an accurate release on his shot.”
The Canucks struggled with goal scoring last season, averaging only 2.17 goals per game, which was second lowest in the NHL. In that, they could definitely use someone like Boeser to improve their offense next season.
Heading into camp, Boeser should be able to solidify a top-nine spot on the Canucks, and can possibly get top-six minutes as the season progresses. Out of this list, Brock Boeser is probably the most NHL ready and should be on the team next season.
2 ) Jonathan Dahlen – Center/Wing
Jonathan Dahlen was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in a trade deadline deal last year that involved Alexandre Burrows going the other way. He was a second round pick of the Senators in 2016 and has shown steady improvement with his play over the past couple of years.
Dahlen played for Timra IK in the Swedish First Division league, and led his team in scoring last season with 25 goals and 44 points in 45 games. He is a highly-skilled offensive player, with excellent playmaking and scoring abilities. He also has the versatility to play both the center and wing positions and looks to be a future top-six forward for Vancouver.
It is still uncertain if he is ready to make the jump to the NHL next season. If the Canucks feel that he is close, he will probably stay in North America and see time with the Utica Comets.
If not, we will likely see Dahlen back in Sweden, for another year with Timra IK.
3) Elias Pettersson – Center
Elias Pettersson was somewhat of a “surprise pick” at the 2017 NHL entry draft. The Canucks selected him fifth overall, surprising a lot of people as other names like Cody Glass, Casey Mittelstadt, and Gabriel Vilardi were still available.
Overall, Pettersson is a versatile two-way center that can give you a little bit of everything. He has decent size at 6’2″ but is only listed at 165lbs, so he will likely need at least one more year to beef up before having the NHL on his horizon.
However, Pettersson was considered the best playmaking center in the 2017 draft, which is why the Canucks decided to choose him at number five. He also played on the same line with the preceding Dahlen for the past few seasons, and the two have already developed great chemistry.
Perhaps Pettersson and Dahlen can eventually become a new Swedish duo the Canucks can build around in the future.
4) Olli Juolevi – Defense
Olli Juolevi was a high pick for the Canucks at the 2016 NHL draft. He was listed as a top-ten player in the pre-draft rankings but Vancouver surprised many people by selecting the Helsinki native fifth overall that year.
Since then, he returned to the OHL for another season with the London Knights and continued to develop his skills.
Juolevi is the best defensive prospect for the Vancouver Canucks who is not in the NHL right now. He is a safe and steady defender with a great all-around game. Juolevi is a skilled skater, with excellent vision and playmaking abilities, which makes him a potential top-pairing defenseman for the Canucks some day.
He might need to increase his strength before he can solidify a spot at the NHL level. Juolevi will be a long shot to make the team next year as the have Canucks already seven NHL caliber defensemen on their roster. This likely means we will see him return to junior for another season with the Knights.
5) Thatcher Demko – Goaltender
Thatcher Demko was a second round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2014. Before joining the Utica Comets last season, Demko had an impressive NCAA career with Boston College.
He is a big-framed goalie with great lateral movement, and to many, he might be the Canucks’ number one goalie in the future. Canucks general manager Jim Benning also said in an interview
“We do think he’s a guy who we can develop into a No. 1 goalie.”
Despite this, Vancouver will have to be patient with Demko, he is only 21-years-old and will need a few more years to fine tune his game. Be sure to keep tabs on his progress with the Comets in the American Hockey League next season.
Other honorable mentions:
Nikolay Goldobin – Nikolay Goldobin was acquired at the trade deadline last season from the San Jose Sharks that saw Jannik Hansen go the other way.
Goldobin already has 23 games of NHL experience, and played 12 games for the Canucks late last season, scoring three goals. Goldobin is a highly skilled player capable of generating his own offense. The Canucks like his potential but want him to get stronger and play grittier next season.
It will be interesting to see how he performs at camp in the fall. Right now, Goldobin is more NHL ready than prospects like Dahlen and Pettersson. He has a better chance to stay with the team on opening night this year.
If not, he will likely be one of the first players to be called up from the AHL next season.
Jake Virtanen – Jake Virtanen was a high pick (sixth overall) for the Canucks in 2014. Since then, he made the team as a 19-year-old and played 55 NHL games in the 2015/16 season.
However, Virtanen took a step back last year and was demoted to the minors for the majority of the year. For this reason, he has dropped off quite a bit on the Canucks’ depth chart.
On the bright side, Virtanen is only 20-years-old and has time to develop into a solid NHL player. To put things into perspective, Ryan Kesler didn’t really become an effective player in the NHL until he was 23-years-old.
Jordan Subban – Jordan Subban is the younger brother of NHL All-Star defenseman, P. K. Subban. Much like his older brother, he is a right-handed defenseman, who is an excellent puck mover and can generate offense from the blueline.
He has excellent offensive instincts but still needs to improve his defensive game. Subban is also undersized at 5’9″, 178lbs, which might limit his chances of solidifying a top-six spot on the Canucks next year, as they already have another smaller defender in Troy Stecher, on the roster.
We should see Subban spend another year in the AHL unless trades or injuries occur, he likely won’t see much NHL action next year.
Adam Gaudette – Even though Adam Gaudette was a fifth round pick of the Canucks back in the 2015 NHL draft, he has significantly improved his game at Northeastern University. He has shown potential to be a decent all-around center in the NHL.
Gaudette doesn’t really have one glaring weakness in his game, and should at least be a decent depth forward for the Canucks in the near future.
Nonetheless, Gaudette did not sign with the Canucks this summer and will return to Northeastern for the 2017/18 season. Gaudette should have another solid season for the Huskies and has a legitimate shot at capturing the Hobey Baker award (NCAA MVP) next season.
What do you think of the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects? Do you think they will have a bright future? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to participate in the poll below.
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