Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 Vancouver Canucks Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
2021 Vancouver Canucks Prospects
After missing the playoffs, Canucks general manager Jim Benning came into the off-season looking to make big changes. He made a controversial blockbuster deal to acquire Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. He also acquired Jason Dickinson and Jaroslav Halak to fill depth roles on the team. Still, it is the young players who will drive the bus for the Canucks next year. With Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, and Thatcher Demko all coming through the Canucks system, drafting and development have been a real strength of the team in recent years. The Canucks now look to their prospect pool to continue that growth. While there are some very good prospects in that pool, the overall talent level is not as good as it could be due to recent trades that have included some of the team’s top draft picks.
2021 Draft Picks: Danila Klimovich, Aku Koskenvuo, Jonathan Myrenberg, Hugo Gabrielson, Connor Lockhart, Lucas Forsell,
Graduations: Nils Hoglander, Thatcher Demko, Kole Lind (lost to expansion)
2021 Vancouver Canucks Top Prospect: Vasily Podkolzin
Right Wing — shoots Left
Born June 24th, 2001 — Moskva, Russia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 190 lbs [185 cm/86 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1st Round, #10 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.
Podkolzin played limited minutes on a strong SKA St. Petersburg team last season. He put up five goals and 11 points in 35 games in the regular season. He found another level in the playoff though, with six goals and 11 points in 16 games. Podkolzin also had some international experience. He put up four points in seven games at the World Juniors. He also put up two goals and eight points playing for the Russian Men’s Team on the European Hockey Tour.
Podkolzin is a good but not great skater, featuring a powerful stride that generates good speed and also allows him to fight through checks and control the puck down low. He has a good first step and above-average acceleration. Once he gets a step on a defender he can drop his shoulder and take the puck to the net. Podkolzin has excellent balance and wins battles on the boards and in front of the net. Overall his speed is good but not great, however, the power and balance set him apart. Profiling as a power winger, he works well below the hash marks in the cycle game. Podkolzin can take the puck to the front of the net and has the ability to finish when he gets there. He’s dominated against the junior level but still needs to gain a bit of strength on his frame to play this game against men.
Podkolzin has good stickhandling skills which make him tough to defend in one-on-one situations. He can beat defenders out of the corner, or off the rush. Podkolzin also has very good passing skills with the vision to find open teammates and the skill to open up passing lanes and get the puck through. He creates turnovers and offence through a strong forecheck and by quickly putting pressure on defenders. At the junior level, Podkolzin is powerful and wins his battles on the boards and creates problems in front of the opponent’s net. This should come in the pros as he adds strength on his frame.
All that said, the true standout area of Podkolzin’s game is his ability to be a sniper. A natural goal scorer, Podkolzin has a strong wrist shot with a lightning-quick release. This release can fool goaltenders and he beats them off the rush. He has shown the smarts to use a defender as a screen when taking this shot. His soft hands also allow him to finish in close to the net. Most impressive though is his one-timer, which is a rocket. Podkolzin finds the soft spot in the defence and gets himself open for the pass.
Podkolzin brings a high-compete level and an effective defensive game. He is willing to show the same battle in his own end that he brings in the offensive end. Podkolzin fights for loose pucks and supports the defence down low. He uses his stick well to break up plays. Podkolzin has shown his instincts and defensive play on the penalty kill and is trusted by his junior-level coaches in key situations.
Podkolzin is close to being NHL ready and has now signed his ELC with Vancouver. He will head to training camp looking to earn a full-time job in Vanouver. He could be a first-line winger in the NHL, using both skill and power to put up points. This may take time though and Podkolzin could start with a bottom-six role in the NHL to start the year and slowly working his way up the lineup.
#2 Prospect: Jack Rathbone
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born May 20th, 1999 — Boston, Massachusetts
Height 5’10” — Weight 177 lbs [178 cm/80 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 4th round, #95 overall, at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft
Rathbone didn’t play many games, but it was an encouraging first professional season for the young blueliner. He put up two goals and night points in eight games with Utica in the AHL. He also played eight games with the Canucks, scoring one goal and three points.
Rathbone is an outstanding skater. His mobility allows him to play a two-way game. He can push the offence and still get back defensively. Rathbone has very good speed and acceleration in both directions. His footwork is also very good. Rathbone is extremely agile. He can walk the line in the offensive end, opening up shooting and passing lanes. His edgework and agility also allow him to maintain good gap control. Rathbone has crisp pivots, allowing him to transition from offence to defence and vice-versa. He is also solid on his skates, with a low centre of gravity and plenty of strength. This helps him to battle on the boards. However, a lack of size still gives him trouble with bigger opponents.
Rathbone pairs his skating with good stickhandling ability. This allows him to carry the puck through the neutral zone and generate effective zone entries. His poise and ability to control the puck also lets him quarterback the power play. Rathbone has good vision and passing skills. This helps him to move the puck with a good first pass, to set up teammates when he leads the rush, and to set up scoring chances from the point. Rathbone’s quick hands and agility allow him to quickly make a shift to one side to open up a passing or shooting lane.
Rathbone can really fire the puck. He has a good slap shot and one-timer from the point. He understands how to keep his shot low, allowing teammates to stand in front of the net to provide a screen, deflect the shot, or to pounce on the rebound. Rathbone also has a good wrist shot. His quick hands allow him to toe-drag and change the angle just before shooting. This causes issues for goaltenders.
Despite his lack of size, Rathbone is willing to play a physical game. He is not afraid to throw a hit if a forward tries to get by him along the boards. He is also physical in the corners and in front of the net. Discipline can be an issue though. Rathbone can sometimes gamble too much, leaving the defence exposed. That includes both pushing the offence as well as getting himself out of position looking for the big hit. These are areas of his game that may improve with time and learning what he can’t get away with at the pro level.
Look for Rathbone to compete hard in training camp for a spot in the Canucks lineup. Even if he doesn’t get it right away Rathbone should be one of the first call-ups from the Canucks AHL club in Abbotsford.
#3 Prospect: Olli Juolevi
Defence — shoots Left
Born May 5th, 1998 — Helsinki, Finland
Height 6’2″ — Weight 182 lbs [188 cm / 83 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1st round, #5 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft.
Juolevi was in and out of the lineup with the Canucks last season. He played 23 games, scoring two goals and one assist.
Juolevi’s two-way game is based on his skating ability. He has good speed in both directions and good acceleration. His pivots are decent and his edgework is very solid. This allows him to quickly transition from offence-to-defence or vice-versa. This skating allows Juolevi to cover a ton of ice, and to be able to join the rush, or make pinches at the blue line and get back defensively at lower levels. However the lack of elite speed means that he can’t get away with that as much at the NHL level. Adding core strength would also allow Juolevi to improve his balance and be stronger on the puck, as well as better at winning battles in the corners. This is his biggest issue right now, he gets pushed around a bit and is easy to knock off the puck. That really hurts him when playing at the NHL level, against bigger and stronger opponents.
Olli Juolevi has not had much opportunity to show his offensive game at the NHL level. However, he has shown some offensive ability in both the AHL and Junior. Juolevi needs to translate that game to the NHL level to really make an impact for the Canucks. He can help to quarterback the power play with good skating ability, a decent slap shot, strong wrist shot, and very good passing skills. He has excellent vision and shows the hockey IQ to make the smart play, whether it is in setting up scoring chances from the point on that powerplay or in starting the rush out of his end of the rink.
Juolevi walks the line well and opens up passing and shooting lanes with his agility. He is a good stickhandler and shows poise with the puck on his stick. He also understands how to keep the puck low and on the net in order to maximize his teammates’ ability to get tip-ins, screens, and rebounds. In addition to making good breakout passes, he has the skating and puck handling skills to avoid the forecheck and start the play that way as well. Juolevi can carry the puck through the neutral zone and enter the zone effectively. He needs the confidence to use these skills at the NHL level as he’s been a bit hesitant at times.
Juolevi’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. There are some good aspects to his game, such as his strong positioning and being tough to beat with skating in one-on-one situations. He protects the middle of the ice well, using his good footwork to keep himself between attacking forwards and the net. He forces opponents to the outside against the rush and keeps those cycling the puck to the boards. Juolevi has a quick stick and uses it to poke the puck off of opponents sticks and to cut down on passing lanes.
He isn’t one to throw big hits but is willing to be as physical as necessary to defend against the cycle and to clear the front of the net. Juolevi could stand to bulk up a bit, which would help him to be stronger on the puck and better at board battles at the NHL level. He can be pushed around a bit in his own end when he faces bigger and stronger opponents. Juolevi also needs to be smarter with the puck. He can sometimes rush things and this creates turnovers.
The time is now for Juolevi. The Canucks have waited patiently for the former fourth overall pick to make an impact at the NHL level. He will be given every opportunity to take a full-time job in training camp. If he can’t do that in 2021-22, the patience shown by Canucks management may wear thin as he is passed by other defenders on the depth chart.
#4 Prospect: Michael DiPietro
Goaltender — Shoots Left — Catches Left
Born June 9th, 1999 — Amherstburg, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 201 lbs [183 cm / 91 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 3rd round, #64 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
DiPietro didn’t get the opportunity to play much in 2020-21 as he spent most of the year as the Canucks taxi-squad goalie. In four games with Utica he had a 2.52 goals-against-average and .916 save percentage. This follows up on his 2019-20 season where he played 36 games with a 2.79 goals-against-average and .908 save percentage.
Skating and Talent Analysis
DiPietro is slightly undersized compared to most of the goalies who have been drafted in recent years. He makes himself look bigger by coming out of the crease far and cutting down angles. Excellent skating ability allows DiPietro to play out of his net while getting back quickly on dekes, as well as moving across the crease laterally. Playing an aggressive hybrid style, DiPietro is very athletic. He uses his quick legs to take away the bottom of the net, as well as a good blocker and glove upstairs. His rebound control is also very good for a 21-year-old, as he swallows up pucks or deflects them into the corners.
DiPietro has excellent puck tracking ability, as well as excellent lateral movement. He can track cross-ice passes and seems to be in position before the puck arrives. He does a very good job of keeping his shoulders square to the shooter. DiPietro also gets himself back in position quickly, coming up square to shooters, and making himself big for rebound attempts. His legs are strong, giving him a good push on moving side to side.
DiPietro is calm and composed in the net. During the Spitfires championship season, there were times when Windsor has dominated the play, and he did not see many shots. Despite that, he maintained good focus and was ready for the next shot. There have also been times when Windsor had a mish-mash lineup due to injuries that year, or last season when the lineup was depleted by graduations and trades and he faced a lot of shots and odd-man rushes against. He did not get flustered and maintained his poise in the net. Dipietro often came up with big saves, keeping Windsor competitive. In Ottawa, he again played behind a strong defence and didn’t see as many shots and scoring chances. Dipietro again adjusted to the reduced workload. In general, he recovers quickly after giving up a goal. He composes himself quickly and is ready to face the next shooter.
Playing with Utica in 2019-20 Dipietro saw plenty of action for a good, but not dominant Utica team. Seeing a much more regular workload, he again was able to handle things well. He also looked calm and composed in the net despite facing more traffic and a quicker game amongst men.
The COVID pandemic and the lack of ice time didn’t do DiPietro any favours. He needs to see action and should be with Abbotsford for the entire season. The Abbotsford Canucks should have DiPietro as their starter but are also likely to carry newly acquired goalie Spencer Martin. This shows a commitment to get starters minutes of DiPietro, and if Vancouver needs a third goalie to get called up and sit on the bench, Martin can take that role. DiPietro still needs several years of development. If he continues his development, he could be up at the NHL level in two years or so.
#5 Prospect: Jonah Gadjovich
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born October 12th, 1998 — Whitby, Ontario
Height 6’2″ — Weight 209 lbs [188 cm / 95 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2nd round, #55 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
Gadjovich put up 15 goals and 18 points in 19 games in what was a breakout season in Utica. He also managed to play his first NHL game with the Canucks.
Gadjovich has size and skills but has an issue with his skating. His start-up and acceleration are a bit clunky, and while this has improved still needs more work. Once he gets going the speed isn’t as bad, but it takes him a few strides to reach that top speed. This means winning races to loose pucks and other short burst actions can be an issue. He has decent agility and edgework and can get by a defender in one-on-one situations. Gadjovich has good lower-body strength and balance. He is strong on the puck and cycles effectively. If there is an encouraging sign here, it is that his skating is much better than it was when he was in OHL. It has improved steadily over the last several years. He will never be a speedster but he may be good enough to get by in the NHL.
Gadjovich is a power winger, who plays a north-south style of game. He gets to the front of the net, scoring his goals by one-timing passes from teammates, tipping in shots, as well as pouncing on loose pucks and burying rebounds. He has a very good wrist shot and quick release, which he can let go from the slot or from the face-off dots. Gadjovich also has a good one-timer. He can score with his snapshot as well.
He is a gritty player who gets assists through winning battles in the corners, protecting the puck on the cycle, and dishing to teammates. Gadjovich isn’t the most creative of players but he is effective. His long reach and good stickhandling help him to protect the puck on the cycle and extend plays for teammates. He can get tunnel vision though, taking everything to the net or shooting at every opportunity instead of looking for an open teammate.
Gadjovich’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. The effort level cannot be questioned. He works hard to get back in his own zone and helps support the defence down low. He also battles for loose pucks in the corners. Gadjovich’s active stick helps to cut down passing lanes. However, he can work on his positioning. He can get out of position by chasing the puck too much and leaving his man. This over-aggressive nature can be fixed with maturity and good coaching.
Power forwards can take some time, and Gadjovich will get that. The Canucks can afford to be patient while he works on improving his foot speed and defensive play. He will get every opportunity to earn a spot on the Canucks in training camp, but Gadjovich is likely to start the season in Abbotsford. If he continues to dominate at the AHL level, he will force the Canucks hand as a call-up.
#6 Prospect: Jett Woo
Defence — shoots Right
Born July 27th, 2000 — Winnipeg, Manitoba
Height 6’0″ — Weight 205 lbs [183 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2nd round, #37 overall, at the 2018 NHL Draft
Woo had his first professional season, putting up three goals and two assists for five points in 28 games with Utica last year.
Woo’s mobility helps him to play an effective two-way game. He has good speed and acceleration in both directions. He also has strong edgework and agility, allowing him to quickly change directions. This helps him to maintain gap control and makes him very difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. Woo has tight pivots, allowing him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He skates with a low, wide stride and generates a lot of power. This helps him to be strong on the puck and fight through checks. Woo’s balance helps him to win battles on the boards, and in front of the net.
Woo didn’t show a lot of offence with Utica, mainly focusing on his defensive game. As he grows and shows more confidence, there may be some untapped offensive potential. At the junior level he showed poise with the puck on his stick, keeping his head up and looking to make plays. He has a strong first pass out of the zone and has shown the ability to quarterback the power play. In junior, Woo slowly increased his offence each year. He was more confident in joining the rush and pinching at the blue line as time went on. This could happen as he becomes more comfortable in the pros as well. He is not reckless though and picks his spots well. Woo is rarely caught out of position.
Woo has good power on his slap shot and one-timer. He keeps his point shots low and on the net, encouraging teammates to get deflections and tips. He also has a good wrist shot, with a quick release. Woo sneaks down from the point and lets this wrist shot go at the top of the face-off circles. Woo is a smart player. He anticipates the play well and makes good decisions with the puck. He has become more poised with the puck, holding it longer and allowing plays to develop. His ability to make quick moves with his stick and change angles has helped him to open up passing lanes.
The bread and butter of Woo’s game is his defensive game. He has been a key penalty killer all the way back to the second half of his 16-year-old rookie season. Woo made a good pair with Jack Rathbone in the AHL. He played the stay-at-home role while Rathbone was given license to push the offence. Woo battles hard in the corners and wins physical battles in front of the net. He also maintains good gap control at the defensive end, funnelling attackers to the outside and keeping himself between the puck and the front of the net. Woo’s positioning and instincts are already high-end. Woo throws big hits from time to time, but this is another area where he really picks his spots. He does not get himself out of position looking for that hit.
Woo is likely to head back to the AHL. The shortened season meant that he was limited to just 28 games last year. Woo could become a top-four defenceman, mainly focused on his own end but with some offence as well if he is able to fully develop. He needs ice-time though and could be a year or two away from the NHL.
#7 Prospect: Joni Jurmo
Defence — shoots Left
Born April 19th, 2002 — Espoo, Finland
Height 6’4″ — Weight 198 lbs [194 cm/90 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 3rd Round, #82 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft
Jurmo started the season with JYP’s junior team in the Under-20 league, but the 18-year-old quickly showed he was ready for the next step, putting up four points in four games. He played twenty games with JYP in the SM Liiga, the top Finnish men’s league. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite ready for the big leap and was held pointless. He also wasn’t getting enough playing time to develop. Jurmo went down to the Mestis, the second division of Finland’s men’s leagues, and put up three goals and eight points in 10 games. He also added two points in two playoff games.
Jurmo is an outstanding skater. Bigger players are often called good skaters for their size, but that is not something that needs to be said with Jurmo. He has very good speed in both directions and excellent acceleration. He can attack defenders by changing speeds and is also hard to beat by attackers off the rush. Jurmo has quick, sharp pivots. He is able to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Excellent agility and edgework also allow him to cover a ton of ice and help him at both ends. He is also strong on his skates and tough to knock off the puck. Jurmo can fight through checks as well as win battles along the boards and clear the front of the net.
Jurmo combines his skating with effective puck-handling skills. He can avoid forecheckers when retrieving loose pucks and make a quick move to get past them and start the transition game. From there, Jurmo can either rush the puck up the ice or make a smart pass to a forward to lead the rush. His stickhandling and skating allow him to avoid defenders and make successful zone entries. He can quarterback the play from the point, finding passing lanes and exploiting them to set up teammates. His movement in the offensive zone creates opportunities and he can feather passes through tight areas. He also has excellent vision and almost always makes the smart pass.
Jurmo’s slap shot is decent but by no means is it a high-end weapon. He could stand to add more power. This may come as he adds muscle to his frame. He is good at keeping the shot low and on the net though, giving his teammates opportunities for deflections and rebounds. Jurmo also has a good wrist shot which he can get off from the top of the circles or when joining the rush as a trailer. His lateral movement allows him to walk the line and create shooting lanes. He is aggressive in pushing the play and pinching in at the line. This can lead to him getting caught up the ice from time to time.
Jurmo’s strong skating also gives him the ability to successfully defend against attackers. He maintains good gap control and forces attackers to the outside and away from prime shooting areas. His quick stick can knock the puck away from an opponent and also does a good job of cutting down passing lanes. He could stand to be more physically aggressive though. Jurmo wins his board battles and contains his man on the cycle when he engages but there are times he tries to do too much with his stick instead of playing physically. His ability to get the puck out of the zone quickly and transition into offence are assets as he reduces zone time for the opposition.
Projection and Comparison
Jurmo’s smooth-skating, size, and offensive ability are all traits that intrigue Canucks management. A rough start in the Liiga was a bad sign, but he was just 18-years-old. He has now moved to Jukurit and should get a second chance to play in the SM Liiga this year, this time with more minutes and hopefully more confidence. The Canucks are hoping he develops into a two-way defender but needs time. They could look to bring him to the AHL in 2022-23.
#8 Prospect: Danila Klimovich
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born January 9th, 2003 — Pinsk, Belarus
Height 6’2″ — Weight 202 lbs [188 cm/92 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2nd round, #41 overall at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft
Klimovich is a Belarusian forward who has impressed on the international stage, with six goals in five games at the IIHF Under-18s as well as playing in the Men’s World Championship. He is now headed to play for his country in Olympic Qualifying. Klmovich played six games in the top Belarussian men’s league, scoring one goal. He also dominated at the junior level with 28 goals and 52 points in 37 games.
Klimovich showed impressive speed in the tournament and his skating was a real weapon. He accelerates quickly and his top-end speed is very good. If the defence gives Klimovich a small opening, he can blow past him and leave them in the dust. Klimovich can drop his shoulder and cut to the front of the net. He also has very good edgework and agility. His ability to change directions on a dime helps him to create space from defenders both with and without the puck. Klimovich has good size and battles hard in the corners and in front of the net. This aspect of his game should only improve as he continues to mature and get stronger.
Klimovich is known for his goal-scoring ability. He is willing to play in the dirty areas of the ice, going to the net both with and without the puck. With his size, Klimovich creates havoc in front of the net and can score on rebounds, tip-ins, and one-timing a quick pass from a teammate. He can also score from further out. Klimovich has an excellent wrist shot, with a lightning-quick release. It has power and accuracy. He also has a very good snapshot and one-timer. Klimovich’s ability to quickly change the angle on his shot before letting it go can fool goaltenders. He can also score with a deke, with the ability to quickly elevate the puck on his backhand.
Klimovich can also play the role of playmaker. He gets in quickly on the forecheck, using his body to create turnovers and pressure defenders. He is also good at controlling the puck on the boards and in the cycle game. Klimovich has good vision. He finds open teammates and can feather a pass through a tight passing lane in order to set up a scoring chance. He has good stickhandling ability and combines that with his skating to carry the puck through the neutral zone and create effective zone entries.
Klimovich is a long-term project who will need some work on his defensive game. He can sometimes get caught up the ice and is often the last man back in the defensive zone. He also has a tendency to fly the zone early, looking for a long pass to create offence off the rush. Klimovich is willing to play physical in his end when he does back check. However, he also needs work on his positioning.
Klimovich has signed his entry-level deal with the Canucks. He was also drafted in the first round, 29th overall, by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the CHL Import Draft. Klimovich is expected to play in the QMJHL where he will begin adjusting to smaller ice and get the opportunity to further develop his physical game.
#9 Prospect: Will Lockwood
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born June 20th, 1998 — Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Height 5’11” — Weight 172 lbs [180 cm / 78 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 3rd round, #64 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft
Lockwood also played his first professional season in 2020-21. In 24 games with Utica, he scored four goals and seven assists for 11 points. Lockwood also got in two games with the Canucks.
Lockwood is a very good skater. He has a great first step and very good acceleration. He also has very good top-end speed. This allows Lockwood to get in quickly on the forecheck. He also has good agility and edgework, making tight cuts and turns. Lockwood is strong on his skates. He has a powerful stride and can fight through checks and get to the net. He also wins battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Lockwood’s game is built on tenacity and hard work. As mentioned, he gets in quickly on the forecheck. He loves to punish defenders and will drive them hard into the boards when they retrieve dump-ins. Lockwood creates havoc in the offensive zone, pressuring defenders and creating turnovers. When he gets the puck, he controls it well below the hash-marks, maintaining puck possession and looking for an opportunity to take it to the front of the net. When he does not have the puck, Lockwood is not afraid to battle for position in front of the net.
Lockwood has the soft hands to finish in tight to the net. He also has a hard wrist shot and good release. He can even score on the backhand. More of a goal scorer than a playmaker though, Lockwood’s assists come off of pure hard work. He could work on being a better passer, getting the puck to teammates by using passing lanes. Right now, too many of his passes are off target.
Lockwood brings his tenacity and physical game in the defensive end. He is willing to support the defence down low, defending against the cycle and keeping pucks to the outside. He creates turnovers which Lockwood is able to transition into offensive chances. Lockwood is good positionally and can help kill penalties.
Lockwood likely starts the season with Abbotsford. He is another player who needs development time at the pro level. He could be ready for callups and short stints in the NHL. Look for him to continue to develop his two-way game and compete for a spot in the bottom six in 2022.
#10 Prospect: Aidan McDonough
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born November 6th, 1999 — Milton, Massachusetts
Height 6’2″ — Weight 205 lbs [188 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 7th round, #195 overall at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft
McDonough has become a key player with Northeastern University over his two years with the Huskies. He put up 10 goals and 20 points in 21 games last season. He won the Hockey East Three Stars Award.
McDonough’s skating is a work in progress. He is a bit too upright in his stride. It is also very choppy. This robs him of speed and acceleration. McDonough makes up for this at the college level with good positioning but will really need to improve his technique and speed in order to make it at the NHL level. He also needs to improve his agility and edgework. McDonough can improve his crossovers to gain more speed and power out of his turns. He also can improve his lateral movements. One area where McDonough does well is with his balance and strength on the puck. He wins battles on the boards and can fight through checks.
McDonough has a very good shot. His wrist shot is powerful and he has good accuracy. McDonough also gets it off with a quick release. His ability to toe-drag and change the angle on his shot before shooting is very deceptive. He also does a good job with his snap shot. McDonough can also score with his slap shot and one-timer. He has good size and can get to the front of the net, where McDonough creates havoc. His good hand-eye coordination allows McDonough to score with a tip-in or by pouncing on a rebound in front of the net.
McDonough is a hard worker. He gets in on the forecheck and pressures defenders into mistakes. He also battles hard for loose pucks along the boards. Once he gets control of the puck McDonough cycles well. His stickhandling and size make him hard to knock off the puck. He is also quick to spot an open teammate and keep the puck moving. While he’s not the most creative player, McDonough does find an open man and then looks for open-ice to play the give and go. He plays a simple north-south style of game but it is effective. McDonough has a knack for finding open ice and getting open for a pass from a teammate.
McDonough brings his high-end motor and physical game to the defensive end of the ice as well. He is willing to support the defence on the backcheck and contain the cycle down low. His positioning is also good and McDonough is willing to block shots. He uses his long stick to cut down passing lanes as well as to poke check opponents and create turnovers. Once one is created, he makes a smart first pass and gets the puck up the ice in transition. His lack of speed and agility can sometimes be an issue if facing a particularly quick opponent.
McDonough returns to Northeastern for his junior season. The Canucks hope to see his offensive game take the next step and his production explode. If he continues to work on his skating, that could happen. A leader for the Huskies, McDonough will wear an “A” as an alternate captain. If he puts up a good season, he could be signed in the spring and make his pro debut.
Sleeper Prospect: Jacob Truscott
Defence — shoots Left
Born April 12th, 2002 — Port Huron, Michigan
Height 6’1″ — Weight 172 lbs [185 cm/78 kg]
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 5th Round, #144 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft
Truscott played 26 games with the University of Michigan last season. He put up one goal and five points. The Wolverines were one of the best teams in the NCAA. Unfortunately the team got hit with a COVID outbreak just prior to the Frozen Four tournament and had to withdraw.
Truscott is a very good skater and he uses this to be effective in both ends of the ice. He has a good first step and strong acceleration in both directions. His top-end speed is also well above average. The strong backwards skating is combined with very good lateral agility and helps Truscott to defend against the rush. He is difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. His edgework and pivots are also very good and allow Truscott to change directions or transition from offence to defence (and vice-versa) with ease. Truscott could stand to get stronger in his lower body. This would improve his balance. It would also make him stronger in battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Truscott pairs his skating with good stickhandling ability. He is able to retrieve pucks in his own zone and avoid the forecheck before passing the puck up the ice. He is also able to carry the puck through the neutral zone and create effective zone entries. However, this is something he does not do a lot of, as he prefers not to gamble unless an excellent opportunity presents itself. Truscott is not the most creative player but he makes safe and smart plays to keep the puck moving in the offensive zone. He won’t hold on to the puck for long, preferring to get it to an open teammate. He also does a good job of picking his spots and pinching in to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Truscott also has a decent shot from the point. It is not overpowering, but he does a good job of getting it on the net. Truscott uses his lateral mobility to walk the line and open up shooting lanes. He is effective with his one-timer from the point as well as sneaking down to the circle and taking a wrist shot. As he continues to get stronger, his shot may become even harder and give goalies more issues.
Truscott uses his strong skating to defend in his own end of the rink. His backwards and lateral mobility gives him good gap control and he is tough to beat on the rush. He funnels attackers to the outside and away from prime shooting areas. An active stick helps him to stick check opponents and take the puck away. He also has good positioning away from the puck, cutting down passing and shooting lanes. Truscott’s ability to move the puck quickly out of the defensive zone also helps to reduce the other team’s possession and zone time, and this helps his defensive game. He could stand to be stronger and more physical as he will need to improve this area of his game to play at the pro level.
Projection and Comparison
Truscott does a lot of things well but doesn’t really have an outstanding trait at this point. He also needs to improve his strength and gain muscle in the next few years. With his commitment to playing hockey at the NCAA level, he will get plenty of opportunities to do so. He could become a second-pair defender at the next level, as well as play a bit of power-play time on the second unit if he is able to round out his game. Truscott heads back to the University of Michigan where he will fight for a top-four spot on the favourites to win the 2022 National Title.
Other 2021 Vancouver Canucks Prospects
The Canucks have graduated a ton of prospects over the last several years. They have also moved high picks and prospects in a number of trades. This means that the system is lacking the depth that it has had in recent years. That said, there are still some names to watch outside the top 10. Upfront the team has players to watch in Arvid Costmar, Linus Karlsson, Dmitri Zlodeyev, Jackson Kunz, Carson Focht, and Karel Plasek. On the blue line, the team also has Viktor Persson, Guillaume Brisebois, and Toni Utunen as players worth keeping an eye on. In goal the Canucks have Arturs Silovs, Aku Koskenvuo, and Matthew Thiesen in the system.