After a strong start under head coach Travis Green the Vancouver Canucks have been rounding into the form that many fans expected. Their inconsistency is not surprising for a team transitioning from the past to the future. A rebuild is something Canuck fans are not used to. In reality the last time they had a true rebuild was in the late 90’s and for many of the younger fans they have never experienced what it’s like to go through one. Over the last few years Jim Benning has begun turning the Canucks prospect pool from a liability to one of their major strengths. With playoffs still looking like a long shot, now may be as good as ever to pay attention to how the prospects are developing around the world.
With world juniors on the horizon it is possible the Canucks could see as many as three of their prospects playing for team Canada. Michael DiPietro, Kole Lind, and Jonah Gadjovich all have a legitimate shot of donning the red and white. Lind has looked phenomenal for the Kelowna Rockets and was a force when he played for team WHL when they faced the Russians last week. Gadjovich has come back strong for Owen Sound following an early season injury and looked good for team OHL when they played the Russians. Goalie Michael DiPietro may have the best shot to make team Canada and didn’t hurt his cause backstopping team OHL to a win against the Russians. All three were drafted in the 2nd round or lower in Benning’s strong 2017 draft class.
The prospect that may suit up for the Canucks the soonest is Adam Gaudette, who is currently playing for Northeastern University in the NCAA. A fifth round draft pick, Gaudette has seen his stock rise and is having another stand out season. He has the true 200 foot game, with an ability to score while being tenacious on the puck and solid defensively. It is possible that when his season ends Jim Benning may look to make the same move he made with Brock Boeser last season and sign him to a contract. We may see him in the Canucks lineup before the season ends.
Over in Europe both Elias Pettersson and Olli Juolevi have looked good for their prospective teams in Sweden and Finland. While some are disappointed to see Pettersson playing on the wing for Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League, he has continued to show the offensive upside the Canucks are hoping will translate to the NHL. As he continues to grow from a teenager to a man you may see that switch to center that fans are hoping for. After Olli Juolevi’s less than stellar training camp with the Canucks he has made the move to Finland to play for TPS Turku. He has become a regular both 5 on 5, but the most surprising growth in his game has come on the power play (he is currently second in the league in PP points as a defenseman). The Canucks certainly hope that he can step in to the lineup in the next few years and help a power play that has struggled since 2012.
With the internet and social media it has never been easier to track players playing around the world. It’s an exciting time for Canucks prospects and fans should be implored to keep tabs on the future of this team. If this team returns to prominence you can say you watched it from the very beginning.
Tune into Just A Bit Outside The Premier Vancouver Sports Podcast for Canuck analysis all season long. Use the link to listen to this weeks episode!