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Utica Comets Prospect Watch: October rankings

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A complete look-in at all Canucks prospects playing on the AHL Utica Comets, and their progress (or lack thereof) through the first month of the season.

Stecher lays out to block a pass during a game against the Toronto Marlies
Stecher lays out to block a pass during a game against the Toronto Marlies
Utica Comets / Twitter

Earlier in the week we looked at all the Canucks prospects playing in the CHL, NCAA, ECHL, and Europe, including guys like Olli Juolevi and Brock Boeser. You can read that post here.

This time, the focus is strictly on the Canucks prospects playing on the team's AHL squad, the Utica Comets.

This list will only include those under contract by the Canucks (sorry Darren Archibald), and will be a recurring post each month so you can check back on their progress regularly.

Forwards

Michael Carcone: Jim Benning signed the undrafted Carcone to an entry-level deal this past summer. He looked great in his first test playing in the Canucks Young Stars tournament a while back, but so far has somewhat struggled to adapt to the pro level. In seven games he has just one goal and a -2 rating.

It often takes players coming from Junior a little bit of time to adjust to the faster, tougher pro game, so hopefully it's just growing pains and Carcone figures out the offense soon.

Rating: C

Cole Cassels: Cassels struggled mightily in his first Comets season last year, so many are hoping he rebounds this year. He hit a snag early, sustaining an upper-body injury in the third game of the season. He was labelled as wseek-to-week, but hasn't yet returned to action. With just over two games played, it's far too early to be judging Cassels' season.

Rating: N/A

Michael Chaput: He was only added to the team this year, but Chaput is already one of the Comets most important players. He's already been named an alternate captain, and he leads the team in assists (10) and points (12) in nine games. He plays in all situations and has been one of the few who cannot be faulted for Utica's slow start.

Rating: A+

Alex Grenier: Grenier's one of the few players to play for the Comets since their inception in the 2013-14 season. He's been a pretty consistent player throughout, and this season he's been producing more than his usual rate, with nine points in as many games.

Rating: A

Joseph Labate: A 4th-round pick from 2011, Labate is starting his second season with the Comets, and so far has been a steady forward with three points in six games. His +/- rating of 0 is actually impressive considering that an overwhelming majority of the team is in the minus.

Rating: B

Yan-Pavel Laplante: Laplante was a recent Benning signing and so far, hasn't done too well in Utica. It is his first pro season, but with no points and a -4 through six games, he needs to at least not be a liability. He's not even managing that right now.

Rating: F

Defense

Chad Billins: The 27-year-old Billins is far from a prospect, but he is under contract and he has been one of the Comets steadiest defenders through the first month. His four points actually ties him for fourth on the team, and 2nd among d-men, even though he's being used in a mentorship role.

Rating: B

Evan McEneny: Not much to say here, no points through four games. After playing mostly in the ECHL last season, McEneny is simply trying to prove he belongs in the AHL.

Rating: C-

Andrey Pedan: Pedan was the last defense man cut from the Canucks this season, but he hasn't played like someone who nearly made the NHL. He's yet to collect a point through eight games and has a none-too-flattering -4 rating. He's already been passed on the depth chart by Troy Stecher.

Rating: C-

Ashton Sautner: Sautner is in his second season with the Comets and so far has been looking adequate, although not playing every game. He has a single assist in five games, and has been adequate defensively.

Rating: C+

Troy Stecher: This may be the one and only time Stecher appears on this list, as he has already been called up twice by the Canucks (it should be once, but the team decided to send him down before calling him up two days later, what a headache). At any rate, Stecher looked impressive in his three games in Utica, even though he never hit the scoresheet. We'll have to see if he spend the rest of the year in Vancouver, or if he gets sent down for some more seasoning.

Rating: N/A

Jordan Subban: Subban has been the brightest talking point of this young Comets season. In only eight games (he was remarkably a healthy scratch for one game) Subban has amassed 10 points. That has him in a tie for first in the entire AHL for scoring among defencemen, and fifth among all players.

He's been effective on the powerplay, as half of his points (3-2-5) have come with the man-advantage. The Comets PP has been one of the team's lone bright spots so far this season, coming in sixth in the league at 24.4%. Subban is a big reason why.

And for all the talk about Subban being bad defensively, he's only a -2, which is about middle of the pack for Utica right now. If he can continue producing points the way he is currently, who cares about his defense right now?

Rating: A

Goalies

Richard Bachman: Like Billins, Bachman is more of a mentor than a prospect, and he's also under contract to be exposed for the upcoming NHL expansion draft. Neither goalie has been good for Utica so far, but Bachman does have the team's only two wins so far. His record is 2-3 with a .864 SV% and 3.84 GAA. That's not good enough if the Comets want to make the playoffs for the third straight season.

Rating: D

Thatcher Demko: Expectations were at an all-time high for Demko after his stellar final season at Boston College. But this isn't college, this is professional hockey, and so far Demko is proving why so many top-notch goaltenders take a long time to develop. It's a big jump.

In his three starts so far, Demko is 0-3 with a .861 SV% and a 3.74 GAA. The good news is there's plenty of time to turn it around still. Cory Schneider also had similar struggles to start his AHL career, and just look how he turned out. With only three starts, it's still too early to tag Demko with a rating.

Rating: N/A

Overall, the Comets have struggled to start the season, sitting at 2-6 on the season. They have gone up against some of the top teams in the league though, so perhaps some better schedule luck is in order for November.

We'll check in on these prospects again next month, as well as the rest of the Canucks prospects playing elsewhere. Until then, stay tuned for more Comets news and updates in the weeks to come.