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2020 Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25: #10 Zack MacEwen

Forward Zack MacEwen will have every opportunity to establish himself as an NHL regular in 2020-21

St Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks - Game Six Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to the Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings, the series that makes you wish you were under 25 again. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1996. Five staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, CanucksAbbyFan2, Trevor Connors, Markus Meyer) and one former staff writer (Daniel Gee, Elite Prospects) cast votes for the project.

In recent years, Zack MacEwen has established himself as one of the most successful examples of prospect development in the Canucks’ system. Undrafted and then signed in 2017 to some scrutiny, MacEwen has consistenly beat the odds to become a near-lock for the Canucks’ roster this season.

One area where MacEwen has demonstrated consistent improvement is in his skating. While hardly perfect, it’s come a long way, to the point where he doesn’t look the least out of place. He also brings a physical edge and a willingness to drop the gloves when necessary that others don’t, making him a unique commodity on the Canucks’ roster.

MacEwen’s two-way play does leave something to be desired. Among regular forwards, MacEwen beat out only Tyler Motte, Jay Beagle, and Tim Schaller in CorsiFor% — though admittedly, it’s hard to draw a ton from a 17 game sample size, and his possession numbers ranked fifth in his playoff stint among Canucks forwards.

MacEwen is not a perfect player, but his 2019-20 campaign was a huge step forward. He looked like a legitimate NHL forward, and certainly seemed to be an updgrade on many of the bottom-six character the team has trotted out over the past several years. He has laid the foundation for future development as a well-rounded fourth line asset.

What’s Next for MacEwen?

MacEwen’s first step this season will be to prove himself at training camp. While he is widely considered to have good odds of making the club as a full-time member, he’s also not necessarily a lock. He’ll face stiff competition from veterans like Antoine Roussel and Brandon Sutter, as well as up-and-comers like Nils Hoglander. Given MacEwen’s relative youth and his NHL experience, though, he may be able to thread the needle between the two camps.

It’s also conceivable that MacEwen could play up and down the lineup. The fourth line is surely his most likely landing spot, but a third line slot alongside Adam Gaudette may not be out of the question. In dire circumstances, it’s not inconceivable he even finds himself on line two alongside Bo Horvat. To some extent, it also remains an open question as to whether or not MacEwen gets time on special teams.

MacEwen’s development and deployment will be a compelling storyline to watch right from the start of training camp. If the past has taught us anything, it may be wise to not bet against him.