Here at Canucks Army, we love three things more than anything in the
world: prospects, prospect rankings, and whining about prospect
rankings. Every summer we vote on and rank the top-20 Canucks prospects to
take stock of what’s in the system, and every summer we hear vocal
complaints from our readers they disagree with our rankings.
So this year, in our mid-term ranking, we gave you the chance to vote on prospects and
have a say on these players. Since our summer rankings, we’ve
simplified the definition of “prospect” to any player in the Vancouver
Canucks’ system that is eligible for the Calder Trophy if they were to
play in the NHL this year. This means that players like Linden Vey and
Joacim Eriksson who were not rated over the summer will be covered in
Without further adieu, here are the Canucks prospects that were rated 9th to 7th.
#9 – Gustav Forsling
Last Summer’s Ranking: 16th
In the SHL this year, Gustav Forsling has been performing well as an 18 year old defencemen in a senior league. In 36 games, he has 3 goals and 3 assists and had the second most ice time of all “Junior” players behind William Nylander. He has 58 shots on goal which translates to a 1.6 shots/game average. As MoneyPuck demonstrated, being able to play in a European Senior league at a young age is a good indicator of NHL success.
Gustav Forsling played in the World Juniors as a third pairing defencemen for Sweden where he ended up leading the tournament in scoring for a defencemen. In 7 games, he scored 3 goals and 5 assists thanks to quarter-backing the Swedish powerplay and playing with Willie Nylander.
It should be noted that Gustav Forsling is no longer in the Canucks system as he was traded for Adam Clendening. Forsling was in the Canucks system during voting and these two players are quite similar in that they are both “smaller” offensive defencemen.
#8 – Cole Cassels
Last Summer’s Ranking: 9th
Cole Cassels was a Mike Gillis 3rd round pick in 2013, and has greatly improved his offensive game since his draft year, making him a possible later round gem for the Canucks.
This season, Cassels has scored 22 goals and 42 assists in 41 games but had to miss 10 games due to a suspension. He nearly made Team USA for the World Juniors, playing in their exhibition games, but was one of the last cuts before the big tournament – a positive indicator of his growth.
Cassels is currently 13th in OHL scoring and has been signed to a contract with the Canucks. It’s most likely that he will be playing in Utica next season, and could possibly earn a spot in the Canucks bottom-6 in the not-so-distant future. If the Canucks can grab a third line player out of a 3rd round pick, then that is a nice success.
#7 – Nicklas Jensen
Last Summer’s Ranking: 5th
Nicklas Jensen is another Canucks prospect who keeps getting pushed down the list because of the new shiny toys selected more recently. Jensen is in his second full year in the AHL and will wrap up his 21 year old season this spring.
Jensen has had a few opportunities in the NHL but has yet to stick with the big club. It should be expected that the 2011 first round pick will compete for a full time NHL job next season, but it’s unclear what role he’d play. The Canucks could go the Detroit route and keep him in Utica for a fourth year of development too if a roster spot is already reserved for Jake Virtanen.
Jensen has been in a bit of a slump the last few weeks down in the AHL. He mainly plays in the second line with the Utica Comets, the one young Canucks prospect to earn top 6 ice time. In 33 games, he has scored 10 goals and 8 assists which makes him the third best Canucks prospect in scoring. Jensen has 99 shots in 33 games, which is a high-end rate, and is 2nd most on the team.
The concern over Jensen has been his inability to set up plays, however this season his assist rate is much closer to his goal rate. His production still is not great, as he is currently tied for 104th in scoring among drafted prospects in the AHL.
Stay tuned for part four of this series, which will run on Thursday and cover the 6th & 5th ranked prospects in Vancouver’s system!