Canucks Youth Movement Should Be Accelerated

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With the trade deadline in the rear view, we have entered the stretch run. Teams now know whether or not they’re still in the hunt for a coveted playoff berth, or whether they’re best suited with hopes of Auston Matthews. The Vancouver Canucks most certainly fall into the latter category, sitting 25th in the National Hockey League and failing to put together more than two consecutive victories all season. Heading into the 2016-17 campaign, the consensus is that Vancouver will enter a full-on rebuild, and it would be advantageous to see what they have heading into next year.

Canucks Youth Movement Should Be Accelerated

Down with the Utica Comets, Brendan Gaunce is putting up wonderful seasons. Gaunce,  21, has 15 goals and 33 points in 43 games, along with scoring his first NHL goal in one of his three contests this year. A first-round draft pick in 2012 (26th overall), Gaunce has seen his stock rise tremendously in 2015-16, and is now on the verge of a full time NHL roster spot. It’s very possible that Gaunce will find himself holding down a spot on the third or fourth line for the remainder of the campaign, and will hold that spot heading into 2016-17.

In addition to Gaunce, there are several other players that have separated themselves in the American Hockey League. Andrey Pedan, who got a taste of NHL action earlier in the year, has 11 points in 37 games, along with 71 penalty minutes. In his short pro stint, Pedan demonstrated surprising poise and positioning, along with exceptional toughness. Pedan won over many fans in his time with the Canucks, and seems to be a near-lock to play in the NHL full time next season. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pedan get some playing time late this year, with the likes of Yannick Weber, Matt Bartkowski and Dan Hamhuis projected to only see their ice-time go down.

Additionally, the announcement of Nikita Tryamkin joining the club sometime in the near future means fans will get to see arguably their best defense prospect in action, as the hulking Russian has been playing solid hockey in the KHL the past couple of seasons. Likewise, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the dynamic Jordan Subban (nine goals and 29 points in 47 games) snag a handful of games for Canucks management to see what they have in the youngest Subban sibling.

It’s not just call-ups that would contribute to the youth movement, however. Over the course of the stretch run, it may be in the Canucks’ best interests to put more emphasis on involvement of their young NHL core. The likes of Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann should be put in positions to succeed (in McCann’s case, the chance to play significant 2nd unit power play time, for example). Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi should see increasingly higher ice-time, some nights perhaps leading Canuck forwards in TOI. On the blue line, Ben Hutton has thrived in a top-pair capacity, and it may not be a bad idea to let that continue even with the return of Alex Edler. In the crease, Jacob Markstrom, boasting a 2.60 GAA and .915 SV%, should be allowed to play almost as much as Ryan Miller over the final stretch.  He was also recently named to Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey,

Heading into next season, we’re going to be seeing a full-on rebuild with this hockey team. There’s no denying it; this club, built as it is currently, will likely not be seeing much improvement in the next year and thus, would be smart to allow the youth movement to come in swiftly. This all starts with seeing what you have to work with, and for that to happen, they need to be open to starting the transition now.

 

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