So, do you feel better or worse about the Vancouver Canucks after the conclusion of the preseason?
The Canucks won two of seven preseason contests, which really doesn’t mean much. However, there were some interesting storylines that emerged — some of them that were wildly unpredictable.
Here were the biggest storylines following the Canucks preseason.
1. Nic Petan makes the team
NIC PETAN MADE THE OPENING NIGHT ROSTER pic.twitter.com/2lzttlIs3q— Nick Bondi (@nickbondi) October 12, 2021
With Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte’s absences, there was an open competition for multiple spots in the bottom six.
Based on his profile as a “top-six or bust” tweener, Nic Petan initially appeared to be on the outside looking in. However, he got some run on the power play and with players such as JT Miller. Petan also got looks on the penalty kill as well, something he’s seldom done at the NHL level.
The Delta native scored a couple of goals, and didn’t look out of place even if he wasn’t a standout player. His versatility of playing both the wing and centre also helped his cause. He has made the team to start the season, which is something few likely predicted heading into training camp.
2. Phil Di Guiseppe waived despite solid preseason
With Petan’s promotion being a surprise, perhaps what was more bewildering was Phil Di Guiseppe’s demotion.
The 27-year-old was glued to Jason Dickinson side in the preseason, both at even-strength and on the penalty kill. He looked assertive, physical and responsible throughout game action.
There shouldn’t be much debate that he had a better preseason than Petan, Zack MacEwen and Matthew Highmore. However, all three of those players made the Canucks 23-man roster ahead of Di Guiseppe.
3. Canucks trade Juolevi
This became less and less of a surprise as camp wore on.
Olli Juolevi was behind from the get-go after a sluggish bag skate that left him motionless on the ice. From that point on, he needed an above-average camp to play ahead of Jack Rathbone and Brad Hunt, but he never came close to narrowing that gap.
His five-year tenure in the Canucks organization ended with a trade to the Florida Panthers on Sunday, in exchange for Noah Juulsen and Juho Lammikko.
4. Hamonic’s absence
Within a matter of months, Travis Hamonic has gone from the Canucks top pair to the AHL.
The 31-year-old cleared waivers after being assigned to Abbotsford over the weekend. Unlike most players who hit waivers, his situation wasn’t performance-related. The tea leaves would leave you to believe it’s vaccine-related, although there’s been no confirmation of this.
Canucks are being ultra-careful here with Hamonic. Lots of speculation about vaccination, but there is also potential issue about the mental health of a player under extreme pressure. So team is giving him time and space. https://t.co/sazodC5fmP— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) October 2, 2021
Regardless of the situation, his surprise absence has left the Canucks awfully thing at RHD. The Canucks will likely be forced to play Tucker Poolman alongside Quinn Hughes on the top pair, while the defensively suspect Tyler Myers will likely play on a “shutdown” pairing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
5. Sutter suffering from long-haul COVID
At the beginning of camp, the Canucks announced that Sutter wouldn’t be available due to fatigue.
Now, they’ve confirmed that Sutter is suffering from symptoms related to long-haul COVID.
You have to feel for Sutter and his young family as they deal with the aftermath of the Canucks COVID disaster from last season.
His absence also leaves a sizable hole in the Canucks lineup, even if Sutter was only slated to be the team’s fourth-line centre. It was expected that Sutter would be a top penalty killer for the Canucks. He’s also (still) the only right-handed centreman on the roster.
6. Gadjovich claimed by San Jose
Over the past three months, the Canucks have lost both of their second-round picks from the 2017 draft.
Eklund, Dahlen, Hatakka & Pederson have made #SJSharks opening roster -- Kane is a non-roster player right now -- there's still a forward spot, wonder if Gadjovich fills that -- assume Knyzhov will be put on IR too pic.twitter.com/lxpTAPfHwQ— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 11, 2021
While there shouldn’t be too much hand-wringing over his loss, it’s worth noting a report from The Athletic’s Thomas Drance that Canucks management believed the risk of losing him on waivers was low...
7. The other Burroughs...
Hamonic’s absence opened up another RHD spot on the roster, and it looks like 26-year-old journeyman Kyle Burroughs was the man who seized the opportunity.
The 5’11” Burroughs has the size of a shifty, mobile offensive defenceman. However, during preseason, he played much more like an assertive, physical defensive blueliner.
He was noticeable with his effort during camp and despite some defensive gaffes, Burroughs played well enough to earn a spot on the opening night roster.
8. Alex Chiasson’s usage
Although Alex Chiasson didn’t make the Canucks out of camp, that might have been more of a technicality than anything else.
While playing on a PTO, Chiasson received prime minutes during preseason action. He was stapled to the team’s top powerplay unit, and his two most common linemates at even-strength were JT Miller and Elias Pettersson.
Chiasson could still sign with the team, as long as the Canucks can clear a roster spot while staying cap compliant. Based on how he was used, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Chiasson signed while a player like Dowling, Highmore, Lammikko, Petan or MacEwen gets waived.