Summer is officially over.
That might be extremely depressing if I wasn’t a hockey fan. Thankfully, if you’re reading this, you probably feel the same.
The Canucks named 59 players to their training camp roster this week. We list all of them here in depth chart format, breaking down roster locks, bubble players, dark horse candidates and recall options.
So, let’s get started.
1. JT Miller
2. Elias Pettersson
3. Bo Horvat
4. Brock Boeser
5. Conor Garland
6. Ilya Mikheyev
7. Tanner Pearson
8. Vasily Podkolzin
9. Andrei Kuzmenko
10. Curtis Lazar
Heading into training camp, the Canucks appear to have five, bonafide top-six forwards.
In spots 6-9 (nice), there are four other wingers who will challenge for top-six roles.
The Canucks as currently constructed have three pretty damn good lines on paper. Some of that, of course, will depend on how all three Russian players look. The trio of Ilya Mikheyev, Vasily Podkolzin, and especially Andrei Kuzmenko, all have something to prove.
11. Nils Hoglander
12. Dakota Joshua
13. Jason Dickinson
Just two years ago, Nils Hoglander was our dark horse pick to make the Canucks out of camp.
Now, he could be on the outside-looking-in.
I wouldn’t bet on Hoglander ending up in the AHL, but it’s a distinct possibility. He made a bad first impression with the coaching staff, and will need a big camp to show that he’s driven and dedicated to succeeding on both sides of the puck.
Dakota Joshua seems more likely to end up in the Canucks starting line-up over Jason Dickinson which is...something. Joshua has just 30 games of NHL experience (all last season) while Dickinson has played 283 NHL games.
Regardless, this management team signed Joshua to a two-year, one-way contract for a reason. They believe in him. Not sure we can say the same about Dickinson, who was given ample playing time at the beginning of Boudreau’s tenure and failed to do much with it.
Dark Horse Candidates
14. Phil Di Giuseppe
15. Will Lockwood
16. Sheldon Dries
There are spots up for grabs on the Canucks fourth line, and all of these three guys have a realistic chance of snagging them.
I have Phil Di Guiseppe ahead of Will Lockwood in my dark horse rankings. The veteran winger stood out in the preseason last year before a surprising demotion prior to the roster deadline. He then played well for Abbotsford, earned a recall, but COVID and injuries prevented him from playing NHL games last season.
He has NHL experience killing penalties and providing solid two-way play.
The same cannot be said for Lockwood, who plays with a lot of heart but had no bottom line last season. He likely needs more time as a top penalty kill in the AHL in order for him to carve out a niche.
Sheldon Dries is the deep dark horse here. He was clinical for the Abbotsford Canucks last season with 35 goals and 62 points in 54 games. Dries didn’t look out of place in the NHL last season either, potting two goals and three points in 11 games.
17. Justin Dowling
18. Linus Karlsson
19. Nils Aman
20. John Stevens
21. Danila Klimovich
22. Arshdeep Bains
23. Carson Focht
These players are listed in terms of how likely they are to be called up by the Canucks. That’s why Justin Dowling tops this list after playing 22 games for the Canucks last season.
John Stevens could get a look if injuries hit. He was a solid, two-way player for Abbotsford last season. However, the Canucks would probably like to see how Nils Aman and Linus Karlsson at the NHL level, if they prove valuable to the baby Canucks.
Danila Klimovich and Arshdeep Bains looked solid at Young Stars, but they still have a lot to prove at the AHL level.
Speaking of things to prove, Carson Focht has to start camp on the right note if he even wants to keep his spot in the Abbotsford Canucks lineup. His ice time and spot in their lineup dwindled as last season wore on.
Junior Returnees & Camp Invites
24. Connor Lockhart (OHL)
25. Tristan Nielsen (Invite - AHL)
26. Chase Wouters (Invite - AHL)
27. Vincent Arseneau (Invite - AHL)
28. Yushiro Hirano (Invite - AHL)
29. Matt Alfaro (Invite - AHL)
30. Mark Gatcomb (Invite - AHL)
31. Cole Shepard (Invite - WHL)
32. Michael Regush (Invite - ECHL)
Aside from Connor Lockhart, every player listed here is unsigned by the Canucks.
Tristan Nielsen and Chase Wouters are the two most interesting names to watch here. Both 2000-born players were solid at Young Stars. Nielsen in particular flashed a little bit of an Alex Burrows/Antoine Roussel-like pest mentality.
Six of the nine (nice) players listed here will report to Abbotsford. Cole Shepard will return to his WHL team in Lethbridge, whereas Surrey-native Michael Regush is slated to play in the ECHL, according to Elite Prospects.
1. Quinn Hughes
2. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
3. Tyler Myers
4. Luke Schenn
5. Travis Dermott
One of the biggest questions entering camp is...who will the Canucks #4 defenceman be?
According to you, it’s Luke Schenn.
Quinn Hughes basically echoed that same sentiment earlier this week. When asked about playing right side versus left side, he talked about how he’d look forward to playing with Schenn again as his right-hand man.
Regardless, Schenn enters this training camp as a roster lock as opposed to a bubble guy.
6. Jack Rathbone
7. Tucker Poolman
8. Kyle Burroughs
All three of these guys are “probable” to make the roster.
However, they’re not in roster-lock territory.
Jack Rathbone is on a one-way deal, meaning he’ll make the same amount of moulah ($750,000) this season, whether he plays in Vancouver or Abbotsford. He is still waiver-exempt for one more season.
If Rathbone doesn’t perform well enough in camp, that isn’t good news for anyone. He has the highest ceiling of anyone in the discussion for Vancouver’s #4 defenceman spot. At 23 years old, it’s time for Rathbone to lock down an NHL spot for good.
Tucker Poolman is, by all accounts, healthy and ready to go. He is a known entity with his solid defensive play and utter lack of puck skills. He just needs to prove that he’s back to normal in camp.
Kyle Burroughs bulldozed his way onto the roster last season with surprising truculence for his size. He should make the roster unless one of the “dark horses” outperforms him.
Dark Horse Candidates
9. Danny DeKeyser
10. Wyatt Kalynuk
11. Brady Keeper
All three of these defencemen have something in common: injuries have altered their trajectory.
Danny DeKeyser was one of the top shutdown defencemen in hockey before a back injury and COVID basically derailed his career. He does bring a different element compared to what the Canucks currently have on the left side.
Wyatt Kalynuk looked like he was going to leave behind the AHL forever back in 2020-21. He posted nine points in 21 games while eating up top-four minutes on a bad Blackhawks team. However, an ankle injury set him back at the beginning of last season, and he spent most of year down in the AHL.
Brady Keeper suffered a gruesome leg injury at training camp last year. If he’s healthy, he’ll definitely be a player to watch. Keeper can skate, plays the right side, and has a mean streak. However, the leg injury and COVID/taxi-squad assignments have limited him to just 12 NHL/AHL games since March, 2020.
12. Christian Wolanin
13. Noah Juulsen
14. Guillaume Brisebois
15. Jett Woo
Christian Wolanin has 70 games of NHL experience and can play in a pinch, but he doesn’t have that “dark horse” pizzazz that the guys ahead of him do.
Noah Juulsen played well enough to earn an eight-game recall to the Canucks last season. He started off strong before really struggling defensively prior to his reassignment.
BREEZE-BAH is Brisebois...rest in peace Botch.
Finally, here’s hoping Jett Woo takes a massive step this year. There’s still promise for the youngster, although his stock has certainly taken a hit. Woo was the biggest faller in our Top 25 Under 25 rankings, dropping nine spots from last year.
Junior Returnees & Camp Invites
16. Kirill Kudryavtsev (OHL)
17. Quinn Schmiemann (Invite - AHL)
18. Alex Kannok-Leipert (Invite - AHL)
19. Chad Nychuk (Invite - AHL)
20. Matt Anderson (Invite - ECHL)
21. Dylan MacPherson (Invite)
Seventh-round sleeper Kirill Kudryavtsev is the lone player listed here who is a part of the Canucks’ organization. He’ll return to the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL.
Quinn Schmiemann and Chad Nychuk were both signed by the Abbotsford Canucks this offseason. Schmiemann went unsigned by the Tampa Bay Lightning after being drafted in the sixth-round by them in 2019. He captained the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL last season.
Chad Nychuk parlayed a big breakout season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL into an AHL contract with the baby Canucks.
The two defenders will join Alex Kannok-Leipert among Abbotsford D-men on AHL-only contracts.
1. Thatcher Demko
2. Spencer Martin
Big camp incoming for Spencer Martin. He needs to continue the success he had last season.
Okay, he doesn’t need him to be .950 SV% good...but as a fringe playoff team, the Canucks need him to be sharp if they want to make the postseason.
5. Michael DiPietro
3. Arturs Silovs
5. Collin Delia
I have to be honest, I don’t really have the faintest clue how this goalie carousel in Abbotsford is going to play out.
We know that Michael DiPietro and his agent have requested a trade. However, if a team were really interested in his services, a deal probably would have been consummated by now.
While every market loves hyping up their own prospects, it looks like no NHL team right now is interested in trading assets for a netminder who had a .901 save percentage in the AHL last season.
Here’s my methodology behind going DiPietro, Silovs, Delia in these rankings. If DiPietro stays in Vancouver, I think the Canucks realize that they’ll have to get both Mikey and Silovs playing time. That would leave Delia as the odd-man out, similar to where Spencer Martin was at the beginning of last season.
Of course, DiPietro could get traded, or one of the young netminders could end up in the ECHL...could you imagine if that ends up being DiPietro?
6. Ty Young (WHL)
Ty Young played well against a discombobulated Winnipeg Jets squad at Young Stars. Now, can he wrestle away starts from Tyler Brennan when he returns to the Prince George Cougars?
Opening Night Line-Up Prediction
Conor Garland — JT Miller — Ilya Mikheyev
Andrei Kuzmenko — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Vasily Podkolzin
Nils Hoglander — Curtis Lazar — Dakota Joshua
Scratches: Jason Dickinson
Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Quinn Hughes
Travis Dermott — Tyler Myers
Jack Rathbone — Luke Schenn
Scratches: Tucker Poolman, Kyle Burroughs
Starter: Thatcher Demko
Backup: Spencer Martin
Opening Night Abbotsford Canucks Line-Up Prediction
Justin Dowling — Sheldon Dries — William Lockwood
Phil Di Giuseppe — John Stevens — Danila Klimovich
Arshdeep Bains — Nils Aman — Linus Karlsson
Chase Wouters — Tristan Nielsen — Vincent Arseneau
Scratches: Karel Plasek (LW), Carson Focht (C), Matt Alfaro (C), Yushiroh Hurano (RW), Marc Gatcomb (LW)
Wyatt Kalynuk — Brady Keeper
Christian Wolanin — Noah Juulsen
Guillaume Brisebois — Jett Woo
Scratches: Quinn Schmiemann (LD), Alex Kannok-Leipert (RD), Chad Nychuk (LD)
Starter: Michael DiPietro
Backup: Collin Delia
Extra: Arturs Silovs