Two Canuck forward prospects are about to have their seasons end, and given the offensive difficulties the Moose are experiencing (only three AHL teams have fewer goals) it's certainly possible they'll make an appearance in the majors this year... Or should Manitoba keep the players they have now, riding the experience and physical maturity of the current team into the playoffs?Prab Rai is a 40 goal scorer with an awful Seattle Thunderbirds team (really: they'll need to win their last two games of the season to reach twenty for the year). He's twenty years old and seems to have overcome his earlier immaturity - he quit the Prince George Cougars over an ice time dispute - as well as his nervousness facing opposing defensemen. Initially viewed as a perimeter player, he's been the target of the WHLs best defenders this season, marked as the Thunderbird's only threat and has managed to be the go-to guy through it all.
As for concern about his character, it's tough to believe that his father, a Pan-Am medalist and Olympic competitor in field hockey for Canada, is going to let him get away with much. I'd say bring him up and give him time with Secret Weapon (tm) Mike Keane. There's more than enough room on left wing for him, and after the year he's had for the team he's on, he's earned some time.
Jordan Schroeder's Golden Gopher squad is in tough tough in the playoffs against North Dakota, losing the first game in the best-of-three series 6-0, and may be available in a matter of days. His numbers have dropped between last year and this one (45 points to 27), but remember that this is University level hockey, and dramatic swings between seasons are commonplace as the teams change composition every year. Plus, even with the fall in scoring, he leads the Gophers in points despite missing two games this season; he has ten points in 34 games on the power play; he's over .500 in face offs and he was given an "A" this season.
The black mark against him is his size: but even at (a somewhat generous) 5'8", he's very strong on the puck and has a heavy wrist shot, even if he doesn't use it enough. He'll have to get his mindset away from passing and into scoring, but once he does he's going to be just deadly. Bring him up and let him try!
Outside of those two, there aren't many others that should be sitting next to the phone, for this season any way:
Is Dan Gendur ready for another shot? He hasn't been doing particularly well with Johnstown, but part of that could be attributed to injuries, managing only 17 games (and 8 points) so far. Really, the only reason to keep working with him is his blinding speed (he may be the only player in the Canuck organization faster than Rai) and the hope that he'll repeat his development in the WHL (it took four years before his hands caught up to his feet). The Chiefs missed the playoffs by a single point, so Gendur is available now, but at this stage he's not an improvement on what's already in Manitoba.
Brilliant as Kevin Connauton has been this year, there's no way the Vancouver Giants are letting him go before the playoffs; and he shouldn't be called. The Giants have a good shot at going deep (again) this year, and that experience will be good for "Cannon" (not his nickname - yet).
Cody Hodgson is a special case: he's not playing for Brampton yet, and even if he does make it back this season from the broken toe, the Battalion is in the playoffs this year. That's going to be his top priority, after making sure his toe has healed completely first - after losing in the finals last season, there's an air of 'Unfinished Business' I'm sure he wants exorcised, even with a worse team than last year's. Whether he makes it to Manitoba is going to depend on his health, Brampton's success in the playoffs, then how far the Moose get.
With a dozen games left, the Moose are in the last playoff spot in their division, with Lake Erie five points back; whether the team wants to go with the guys that brought them this far (with a bit of defencive help from the Canucks) or change up the team in the final push, it's going to be a close race.
Two more playoff wins than last year, guys! Go Moose!