With the first month of the 2016-17 hockey season now wrapped up, let's check in on how some of the Vancouver Canucks are trending early in the year.
The Canucks themselves got off to a hot (and unexpected) 4-0 start, but have since fallen back down to reality, and currently sit in a wildcard spot with a 4-4-1 record.
This list will be a recurring feature each month, and will feature Canucks prospects playing in the CHL, NCAA, ECHL, and Europe. The Utica Comets prospects will have a separate post later in the week.
Rodrigo Abols: A 7th-round pick in the 2016 draft, Rodrigo's season began with a trade that sent him from the WHL's Portland Winterhawks to the QMJHL's Acadie-Bathurst Titan after just two games.
He's still adjusting to his new team, with just one goal in three games and a -3 rating. Because of the trade, it's still too early to put any weight into Abols' play so far, so he gets a free pass for now.
Brett McKenzie: McKenzie was the other 7th round pick from last draft, and so far he's trending much better than Abols. He plays for the OHL's North Bay Battalion, and currently leads them in scoring with 19 points (11 goals!) in 14 games. He is 19, so he's expected to be performing well in Junior, but this is definitely above expectations for a 7th-rounder.
Jakob Stukel: In his second season with the Calgary Hitmen, Stukel has room for improvement with just five points in nine games and a -2 rating. Granted, not a single Hitmen player is above a +/- of 0 so maybe we should cut him some slack. Or not, because he put up 60 points in 69 games last season and is well below that pace this season. A 6th-round pick from last draft, but McKenzie (7th-round in same draft) is already starting to look like the better prospect.
Dmitry Zhukenov: A 4th-round pick in 2015, Zhukenov is point-per-game so far this season, a slight increase on his production from the previous season. His -7 rating is 2nd-worst on his team though. I'll let you decide whether or not to stick the lazy Russian tag on him.
Guillaume Brisebois: The man who will forever be compared to Eddie Lack is off to a good start this season. The key? Demanding a trade from his old team, the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, to play on a team with some gifted offensive players.
As Brisebois was the captain on the Titans, some may look at it as a selfish move, but in my opinion you can't fault a player for wanting to showcase his game a little bit more, and the Titans were awful during Brisebois' time.
So far, the swap has paid off. Playing with the Charlottetown Islanders, Brisebois has nine points in 12 games, well above his point pace in any of his seasons with the Titans.
Cole Candella: A 5th-round pick at last year's draft, Candella has had a pretty 'meh' start to his season. Just four assists in 12 games and a +/- of 0 despite playing on a solid Hamilton Bulldogs team.
Olli Juolevi: All eyes will be on Juolevi in London to see how he performs in his draft +1 season. He was picked 5th-overall at last year's draft, which is the highest Canucks draft pick since the Sedin twins... no pressure.
Juolevi is off to an alright start with the Knights with six points in nine games, and a +4 rating. The team may not be as gifted offensively as last season, but they still have plenty of great players including Max Jones and Cliff Pu, so no excuses if Juolevi can't match or improve his totals from last season.
Tate Olson: Olson is part of a very good Prince George Cougars team right now (13-2-2) and he's been a contributor to the team's success. Olson's eight points in 15 games leads all blueliners on the team, and he's held his own defensively.
Carl Neill: A 5th-round pick in 2015, Neill has increased his production in each of his QMJHL seasons, and he's on pace to do so once again this year. After 50 points in 64 games last year, Neill is over a point-per-game this season with 13 points in 12 games. Needs to round out his game before likely going to AHL action next year.
Brock Boeser: Our boy Boeser turned heads in his first season of NCAA hockey, producing 60 points in 42 games with the University of North Dakota.
This year Boeser is looking even better and more dangerous. He began his sophomore season with 12 points (6-6-12) in five games! That included one insane weekend where Boeser had five goals in two games and pretty much turned the tide of one game all by himself.
In his last weekend of games, Boeser was held pointless in both contests, but he still had no trouble getting lots of shots on net. He'll surely net some more points again this weekend going up against #13 ranked Minnesota. He currently has 12 points in seven games.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that he got NCHC Offensive Player of the Week twice (out of four possible times) and ALSO got the NCHC Player of the Month for October. No big deal right?
The Sedins are the only game-breaking players the Canucks have had in recent memory, but Boeser looks like he could be that guy.
Adam Gaudette: In an organization that typically kicks you when you're down, Gaudette has been a major bright spot for the Canucks since he was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 draft. In his first season in the NCAA, Gaudette had a solid 30 point season in 41 games. This year, he's building on what he did last season, and then some.
So far he has ten points in 7 games. That's only two points less than Boeser in the same amount of games. Pretty impressive. His ten points is 2nd-best on his team and pus him tied as the 13th highest scorer in the entire NCAA. So far, trending very favourably as a potential NHL player.
William Lockwood: Most people were scratching and/or shaking their head when they heard Benning had drafted Lockwood in the 3rd round last year when they were "bigger name" players available (seriously though, who in the 3rd round is a 'big name'?). So far though, Lockwood is looking like a great pick.
Armchair GMs: 0
Lockwood has a share of the team scoring lead with six points (3-3-6) in seven games with the University of Michigan. That six points already equals what he scored in 20 games last year with the U.S National U18 team, so Benning must have seen something in Lockwood that didn't translate to the scoresheet. This season, it is translating.
Mackenze Stewart: Stewart was never thought to have much of a shot at ever playing in the NHL when he was drafted, and that sentiment rings true today. He now plays on the Canucks ECHL-affiliate Alaska Aces, and has a single assist in five games of action.
Michael Garteig: Garteig was a free agent signed out of college last season, and this year is getting starting duties with the Alaska Aces. His .893 SV% through three games leaves something to be desired, but every goalie goes through growing pains when adjusting from college/junior level to the pro game. For example, Thatcher Demko currently has an .867 SV% in three Utica games. Too early to judge after only three games.
Lukas Jasek: Jasek struggled in the top Czech league this season through his first eight games and was sent down to a lower level of competition. He's still just 19, but it's not a good sign that he can't compete in the Czech league. He has four points in seven games since his demotion.
Anton Cederholm: Like Jasek, Cederholm lasted just eight games with his first team this season, getting bumped from the Swedish Hockey League after failing to record a point. A 5th-round pick in 2013, the 21-year-old Cederholm has pretty much run his course as a prospect.
Overall, the Canucks have room for improvement in their prospect pool, but they certainly have their share of young guys worth getting excited about, especially in the NCAA. We'll check in on the progress of these prospects again in about a month's time. Until then, stay tuned for the Utica Comets prospects post coming later in the week!