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Canucks’ Overseas Prospects are gearing up for their 2021/22 Hockey Seasons

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10 across-the-pond players to track this season.

2021 IIHF World Championship, Group A: Russia vs Belarus
RIGA, LATVIA JUNE 1, 2021: Vancouver Canucks’ prospect Danila Klimovich pursues Russian skater Dmitry Orlov at the 2021 IIHF World Championship Group A ice hockey match between Belarus and Russia at the Olympic Sports Center.
Photo by Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

Every new season the members of the Vancouver Canucks’ overseas prospects’ list change. The players graduate to North America (Nils Hoglander, Vasily Podkolzin, Karel Plasek, Viktor Persson) or fizzle into obscurity (Petrus Palmu, Nikita Tryamkin, Dmitry Zhukenov, Artyom Manukyan). Some do return for yet another season (Toni Utunen, Joni Jurmo, Dmitry Zlodeyev, Arvid Costmar, Linus Karlsson). Others become new members of the fraternity (Hugo Gabrielson, Jonathan Myrenberg, Lucas Forsell, Aku Koskenvuo). Occasionally some even retreat back to Europe (Lukas Jasek).

This season the Canucks drafted Belarusian forward Danila Klimovich with their initial pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Despite his birth home, it appears he will buck a trend and graduate immediately to North America. He says he intends to make the Vancouver Canucks’ roster at training camp. This is a major long shot but good on him for his confidence in his own abilities. It is more likely though he either ends up in the AHL playing for the Abbotsford Canucks or in the QMJHL playing for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Klimovich though has laced his skates up in Europe this preseason. He was on a tryout contract with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL at the time the Canucks drafted him and before they signed him. He also tried out for Belarus’ Mens’ Olympic team but was one of their final cuts.

While this season’s list lacks blue-chip prospects (Hoglander and Podkolzin) and never ending drama (Tryamkin), it still has ten young men who dream of playing in the NHL some day.

Here is a look at what to expect from the Vancouver Canucks’ ten overseas prospects this season.

LINUS KARLSSON

Karlsson had a breakout season in the Swedish second-tier pro Allsvenskan league in 2020/21. He produced 22 goals and 51 points in 52 games in the regular season and then followed it up with 8 goals and 15 points in 11 post season playoff games.

He signed a two year contract with Skelleftea of the first-tier Swedish Hockey League (SHL) in the offseason. The natural center, played left wing in the Allsvenskan but is playing right wing in the SHL thus far in the preseason.

He has already played some meaningful hockey as his SHL club is one of the participants in the Champions Hockey League tournament that runs all season long. He has not scored yet but has come close a few times.

Karlsson’s SHL Season opener: September 11th Skelleftea vs. Djurgarden

ARVID COSTMAR

Arvid Costmar put himself on the legitimate NHL prospect track with a breakout performance at the 2021 U20 World Junior Championships. He produced a couple of goals and agitated Vasily Podkolzin amongst others with his in-your-face defensive play.

The next step for him is to establish himself as a top six forward in the SHL this upcoming season. He is coming off of shoulder surgery and his preseason has already been interrupted by a fresh injury.

If he can stay healthy and establish himself in the top Swedish pro league, he will graduate sooner than later to North America.

Costmar’s SHL Season Opener: September 11th Linkoping vs. Lulea

LUCAS FORSELL

This 17 year old skilled left winger put up 10 goals and 21 points in 17 junior games in Sweden during the Covid interrupted season. He also made his SHL debut playing one game for Farjestad’s top club. Here he shows off his dangles and passing skills.

He is already getting a serious look at playing on Farjestad’s SHL roster but almost certainly will start his season with their J20 junior club. If he can translate his superior offensive skills to the pro level, he will become another 7th round draft steal for Jim Benning and his amateur scouting crew.

Forsell’s J20 Nationell Season Opener: September 8th Farjestad vs. Orebro

JONATHAN MYRENBERG

This 6’2” right handed defenceman suffered a Covid shortened season as many young players around the world did last season. He produced 8 points in 15 junior games and also made his pro introduction in the second-tier Finnish Mestis league adding an impressive 6 helpers in only 9 pro games.

This preseason he played his initial first-tier Finnish Liiga game.

With a shortage of quality right handed defencemen in the NHL, Myrenberg certainly has a path to the top league in the world if he continues to develop his defensive game in particular.

Myrenberg’s J20 Nationell Season Opener: September 8th Linkoping vs. Sodertalje

HUGO GABRIELSON

Gabrielson is a left handed defenceman who is equally comfortable playing either side on the back end. He struck for 4 goals and 13 points in 17 junior games last season. He also tallied 7 points in the Swedish third-tier Ettan league.

He impressed the evaluators enough to earn a contract at age 18 to play in the second-tier Allsvenskan league in Sweden this season. He has already potted a mesh bender in the preseason.

Gabrielson’s Allsvenskan Season Opener: September 24th Vasterviks vs. MoDo

DMITRY ZLODEYEV

This 19 year old center began last season in the Russian MHL junior league but was quickly promoted to the VHL (Russia’s AHL-equivalent) pro league. He tallied an impressive 7 goals in 19 pro games. He was on the verge of a further promotion for a look-see in the top end KHL but unfortunately was felled by a long term injury. By the time, he was ready to play again only his MHL team was still playing. He finished his season off by contributing to their MHL club league championship.

This season he will start in the VHL but look for him to be called up to the KHL for at least a cup-of-coffee at some point. He is also high up on the radar to become a key contributor for Russia’s U20 entry at the 2022 World Junior Championships scheduled to be held in Edmonton and Red Deer.

He also could end up playing for Abbotsford in the AHL as early as next season.

This plucky player is well worth keeping an eye on.

Zlodeyev’s VHL Season Opener: September 7th Dinamo St. Petersburg vs. Bars

LUKAS JASEK

It appeared that the marriage between the Vancouver Canucks and AHL forward Lukas Jasek ended this summer when he bolted as a restricted free agent (RFA) signing in Finland. The Canucks, however, decided to retain his NHL rights and qualified his contract.

Jasek recently revealed he left because he did not get an NHL call-up last season and also because Utica was too darn far from Vancouver. The Canucks solved his second complaint soon after he flew across the Atlantic ocean by moving their AHL affiliate to close by Abbotsford, B.C.

It remains to be seen whether or not Jasek ever plays again in the Canucks’ organization. At worst he remains an asset that is available to be traded as part of a future NHL transaction made by the NHL Canucks.

Jasek’s Liiga Season Opener: September 11th Pelicans vs. Helsinki

TONI UTUNEN

This is a make it or break it season for the potential union between 2018 draft pick Toni Utunen and the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks must sign him to an Entry Level Contract by June 1st, 2022, if they want to retain his NHL rights.

The left handed defenceman Utunen is a defensively sound but offensively challenged rearguard. However, this season he has switched to a new Liiga club and is finally getting first pairing minutes, at least in the preseason so far. He is also exclusively playing on his off right side as well. He has been jumping into the offensive play more often and has tallied a goal.

Utunen’s Liiga Season Opener: September 11th Pelicans vs. Helsinki

JONI JURMO

This 19 year old left handed defenceman has yet to grow into his 6’4” imposing frame. When he does he will be a physical force. He is looking very good in the preseason on his new Liiga team under the tutelage of his head coach, retired NHL star Olli Jokinen.

He has the offensive skills. If he can develop his defensive skills he could end up as a top four NHL defenceman. He is the classic boom or bust player. It will be intriguing to track his further development in the Liiga over the next two seasons.

Jokinen so far has played him on a regular D shift plus both on the powerplay and penalty kill. Jurmo recently paid him back scoring his first pro goal.

Jurmo’s Liiga Season Opener: September 10th Jukurit vs. KalPa

AKU KOSKENVUO

In a 2021 NHL Entry Draft that saw two goaltenders chosen in the first round (Sebastian Cossa and Jesper Wallstedt) the Canucks may have snared the best one of the lot in the fifth round.

Aku Koskenvuo just wowed the hockey world at the recent Four Nations U20 tournament held in the Czech Republic turning aside 47 shots without surrendering even one goal in one-and-one-half games played.

He snared Finland’s player of the game blanking the Russians in a key battle.

The 6’4 Finn goaltender so far appears to be a worthy addition to Ian Clark’s stable of stallions:

Thatcher Demko, age 25

Michael DiPietro, age 22

Arturs Silovs, age 20

Aku Koskenvuo, age 18

Certainly the goalie pipeline in Rain City is ready to gush over and Koskenvuo’s future will be in good hands. Look for him to challenge strongly to be Finland’s number one tender at the 2022 WJC in Alberta. Also look for him to become the first man of the pads for Harvard University in the 2022/23 NCAA Mens’ hockey season.

Koskenvuo’s SM-sarja U20 Season Opener: September 3rd Helsinki v. Vaasan Sport