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Canucks’ Overseas Prospects are gearing up for their 2020/21 seasons

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They are skating in Sweden, Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic.

2019 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
Nils Hoglander meets Canucks’ owner Francesco Aquilini at the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22nd, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

The professional overseas hockey leagues are for the most part all gearing up for their 2020/21 rink battles as if they will not be stopped by Covid-19. Most of the leagues are set to begin their regular seasons some time in September 2020.

The Vancouver Canucks have a number of prospects skating with teams throughout Europe.

SWEDEN

Nils Hoglander has inked an Entry Level Contract with the Canucks which takes effect with the 2020/21 NHL season. He is set to attend their training camp tentatively set for November 2020.

Meanwhile, Jim Benning has loaned him back to his former SHL club Rogle which is preparing for its 2020/21 season. His loan ends once NHL camp commences.

The unicycling Swede appears to be firing on all cyclinders in the preseason. In his first game he had two helpers including one that lead to the game winning goal.

In his next game he scored this power play snipe on a wrist shot skating in from the left point.

This morning he tallied this greasy net front lamp lighter.

He then added a primary assist when a teammate deflected his wrist shot into the opposition net.

I would not be surprised if the uber talented Hoglander forces his way into the Canucks’ forward group for the opening of the NHL’s 2020/21 season.

Meanwhile, in Linkoping, Sweden, 2019/20 season SuperElit junior sensation Arvid Costmar is aiming to make Linkoping’s top SHL squad as a 19 year old teenager. The slick Scandanavian centerman/winger lit up the top Swedish junior league last season tallying 26 goals and 24 assists for 50 points in just 29 games. His emergence has been noticed by the top Tre Kronor hockey brass and he was recently rewarded with an invitation to Sweden’s U20 World Juniors Summer Camp.

It will be fun to track his development this season to see if he becomes a legitimate NHL prospect which so far he appears on track to be. He is already getting a look in the preseason to detemine if he is ready to do battle with the men of the SHL this year.

Linus Karlsson was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks from the San Jose Sharks in return for Jonathan Dahlen at the 2019 NHL trade deadline.

The 20 year old forward is set to play his third full season in the Swedish second tier Allsvenskan league. He exercised an option in his contract late last season to move on from his then Karlskrona club to rival Karlskoga. He offence took off with his new team and he tallied 6 goals and 12 assists for 18 points in just 12 games with them. If he can produce at that high level for the entire 2020/21 Allsvenskan season, look for Vancouver Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning to sign him to play in North America for the 2021/22 hockey season. His Karlskoga club has just started land training and ice practices recently.

RUSSIA

Vasily Podkolozin’s KHL preseason is well underway. All signs appear to be pointing toward him having an excellent final year in Russia before his expected signing with the Canucks on or about May 1st, 2021. He is getting top six forward minutes along with both power play and penalty killing time from his new head coach Valeri Bragin.

His motor is always on high when he doesn’t have the puck as he relentlessly tries to get it back. He is blocking shots and making pretty blind reverse passes in crowds.

Podkolzin is still looking for his first preseason goal but the chances are coming. You get the feeling from watching him each shift that an offensive machine is about to be unleashed on the KHL this regular season.

Nikita Tryamkin is off to a fine start in his exhibition games with his Avtomobilist club. His new coach, exNHLer Bill Peters, appears to have freed him to be an offensive weapon. His previous coach utilized him mainly as a shut down defenceman.

Now that the Big Friendly Giant has signed in the KHL for one more season, he won’t be eligible to join the Canucks until their 2021/22 NHL season. It appears the remarriage between the franchise and its tall Russian pick may never happen. Still the big body defenceman may yet suit up in the NHL when he becomes an unrestricted NHL free agent on his 27th birthday.

Vancouver Canucks’ 6th round 2018 draft pick Artyom Manukyan has fallen off the local fans’ prospect radar mainly because of his lost 2019/20 season due to injuries.

But he is clearly still on his head coach Bob Hartley’s radar. In his first game back from his 2019/20 season ending injury, Hartley inserted him as the right winger on Avangard’s first line.

If the 22 year old Armenian Russian can repeat his junior league offensive prowess in the pro KHL league this season he may yet still be a viable middle forward NHL prospect for the Canucks going forward. He is worth keeping an eye on I think.

FINLAND

20 year old left defenceman Toni Utunen is entering his third full Finnish Liiga pro season. He has the makings of a good puck moving solid defensive NHL defenceman. The question is whether or not he can produce some reasonable offensive numbers from the back end as well. To-date, he has played in 86 Liiga games but has scored only one goal and five assists for a total of six points. It will be interesting to see if his pro offence picks up this year. He has scored a goal in early exhibition scrimmages. Hopefully, it is a sign of things to come for him this season,

It appears the fractured relationship between the Vancouver Canucks and its diminutive left wing prospect Petrus Palmu may be coming to an end.

Palmu is still under contract with the Canucks for one more season. If the Canucks decide not to qualify his contract he would then become a unrestricted free agent on July 1st, 2021. He still has not hooked up with a team to play with in Europe this season, so maybe he will take one last shot at an NHL training camp in November 2020. If he did attend camp he would almost certainly end up in Utica again. Perhaps, a mutual contract termination might occur at that point.

CZECH REPUBLIC

20 year old left winger Karel Plasek is beginning his second season with Kometa Brno of the professional Czech Extraliga. He only scored three goals in 34 games in his first pro season. More offence is expected from him in his second year. He performed well for the Czech Republic’s U20 team at the World Junior Championships earlier this year.

He tallied his first preseason point yesterday. He intercepted a goalie’s clearing attempt and fired a quick pass to a teammate who netted a goal.

It appears Utica Comets’ forward Lukas Jasek has found a temporary home with Trinec of the Czech Extraliga. The Canucks apparently intend to loan him to Trinec until their NHL training camp opens likely later this year Covid-19 willing.

Trinec’s exhibition season is in full swing but Jasek has yet to make an appearance in their preseason line-ups.

It will be intriguing to track the Vancouver Canucks’ overseas prospects this season as the players attempt to develop their skills under the shadow of an ongoing world pandemic.