10 Thoughts on the Chicago Wolves @ Abbotsford Heat

This isn’t a full game recap, which Pat Johnston is putting together for Friday night’s game out in Abbotsford. I was impressed with several Canucks prospects on Friday night, while others didn’t do much to stand out.

Read on for more.

10. Steve Pinizzotto worked his tail off last night and was quite effective. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he’s a solid skater and he seems to understand where to be on the ice at all times. He is an afterthought to many Canucks fans, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him stick in a fourth line/depth capacity in Vancouver. If nothing else, he will push the other bottom six forwards to be at their best every game.

9. Anton Rodin looks a lot stronger than he did last year, as noted by Pat Johnston. He wasn’t great last night, but he wasn’t awful, either. He made a few nice rushes up the ice and won a number of puck battles that he would most definitely had lost last year.

8. Connauton and Tanev were great on the back end together. They seem like one of those pairings that was made for each other, as Jason Botchford tweeted during the game. Connauton is noticeably stronger than he was last year – more than a few times he tossed a Heat forechecker aside with ease.

7. Eddie Lack was good, as was Abbotsford goalie Danny Taylor. Lack looks a lot more polished than last year, but he’d still benefit from some more AHL time this year instead of backing up Schneider (if and when the season starts).

6. Alex Friesen looked out of place (and not in a good way) on Friday night. A great example of the difference between the CHL and AHL. Friesen was dominant last year for Niagara, but now he is having to earn his place again in a much harder league. His first few weeks as a pro aren’t going to change my opinion of him in the slightest – as an undersized center, it would almost be expected that there would be an adjustment period.

5. Because of the number of forwards being carried on the roster, the Wolves have had to rotate good players in and out each night (as have most other AHL clubs). Alexandre Mallet and Brett Sterling both sat last night, while Kassian and Rodin played with Andrew Ebbett instead of Schroeder.

4. Schroeder made a few nice defensive plays and showed his usual speed, but he wasn’t very effective offensively. He definitely didn’t stand out at any point in time – to be fair, the Heat play a very structured (i.e. defensive) game, and they really limit chances. Think Dale Hunter, Capitals.

3. Zack Kassian is a player we all want to see succeed. Not only because the Canucks gave up Cody Hodgson for him in a shocking trade last season, but because Kassian is the club’s top prospect, and he has a pretty interesting story. He stood out for all of the right reasons last night.

2. Aside from the Buffalo game last season, last night may have been Kassian’s most complete performance in the Canucks organization. From the opening minute to the shootout, he was involved every shift, using his speed to beat defenders off the rush, using his size and strength to protect the puck down low, and using his vastly underrated playmaking skills to create.

1. Kassian also got in a scrap, and his hands were evidence to that post game. Balancing the toughness with the skill has been an issue with him in the past, and last night was a great example of how he can contribute in both regards positively. His fight energized the team, and he had several big hits in the game (including a hard hit into the boards on Sven Bartschi in the first period).

Kassian is a really skilled player who happens to be big and tough. He isn’t an enforcer or a tough guy first. That being said, it was great to see a well-rounded performance in a game that you know a lot of these young Canucks were circling on their calendars.