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Despite the Canucks doing their version of One Hot Crazy Summer, I can actually put away the feeling of dread for this season, at least for the time being. The Young Stars tournament gets underway in Pentiction today with the Flames and Jets prospects this afternoon, and tonight the hockey world will be watching Connor McDavid make his pro debut as the Oilers and Canucks clash.

Hockey is almost completely back!
Hockey is almost completely back!
Derek Leung/Getty Images

If you're looking for anyone to give even a sniff to any of the Canucks prospects today, just give up. No matter what, this day is all about the Oilers. And it's not like you can blame them, really. Connor McDavid is the most highly touted prospect that a team has tanked for since the Pittsburgh Penguins tanked to get Sidney Crosby first overall. It's a big deal. So while it's neat and all that, if you had trouble stomaching '18 year old Sam Bennett' back in April, this is gonna be a million times worse.

And while we do want to talk about the Oilers and stuff, we will have plenty of opportunites to do so throughout the season. Instead, we will focus on the Canucks, whose core of prospects are the reason for hope when it comes to this franchise, and not any of the signings or trades that Jim Benning has pulled off during his tenure. For starters, we finally get to see both Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, the Canucks 2014 1st round picks in Canucks colours for the first time. Both of them missed the Young Stars tournament last year, and are determined to make an impression on the Canucks brass.

Other forwards to keep an eye on for the Canucks: Cole Cassels, Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk. Gaunce and Shinkaruk spent the season in Utica with the Comets, while Cassels had an impressive season in Oshawa, capped off with a Memorial Cup win with the Generals. Cassels drew raves for his play in the OHL playoffs, most notably for completely shutting down Connor McDavid as the Generals defeated the Erie Otters. It will be fun to see these two renew their battle tonight.

On the defence, free agent signing Ben Hutton will give Canucks fans their first look at what can bring. Hutton was signed out of the NCAA and appeared in 4 playoff games for the Comets, scoring once. This is also a big one for Jordan Subban, who will need to have a strong camp if he wants to try and forge out a future with the Canucks. If there's a spot on this squad that there's a question mark, it's in goal. Jackson Whistle is back again this year, the Kelowna Rockets keeper had a 34-10-5 record last season in their WHL Championship season. They also invited Clay Witt. The 24 year old Florida born Witt was with Northeastern University last year.

All games of the tournament will be streamed on and but tonight's match and the upcoming tilt with the Flames Young Stars will be on Sportsnet. So make sure your laptop or phone are charged and ready, and join us for the first Canucks hockey of the season. We're excited, and we hope you are too.


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