Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

WWYDW: Which Players Start In The AHL?

The Canucks made a flurry of signings on July 1st, and early reviews have been pretty good, at least within this market. The biggest concern among fans of the team has been how these signings will effect the development of their young players. With only so many spots available on opening night, a few of the Canucks prospects are bound to be pushed out of the lineup. Which players would you have start the season in the AHL?

Last week I asked: What does your opening night roster look like?



Top 6 tries to capitalize on some chemistry from last season. Sutter and Eriksson are sheltering Gagner. 4th line are the leftovers who have to prove their offensive potential (limited minutes but in an offensive role).

Del Zotto/Stecher

I have Edler/Stecher and Del Zotto/Gudbranson initially but Gudbranson needs minutes to prove his worth. Plus I think having a huge middle pairing would be intimidating.

Markstrom (starter), Nilsson (backup)


F: Sedins – Goldobin; Baer-Bo-Brock; Gagner-Sutter-Erickson; Burmitsov-Granlund-Virtanan. (Dorsett rotates)
D: Edler-Stecher; Tanev-Hutton; Del Zotto-Gudbrandson (Biega)

The key will always be the Sedins. If they are 65 + point producers, Nucks are battling for a playoff spot. If they are 40-50 point players, then Bo’s line will slowly transition to first line duties and this will be a sure fire bottom 5 team. I can see one of Tanev, Gudbrandson, Hutton getting traded at TDL. My hope is that the this is a playoff team till January, get ravaged with injuries for a few months, and then trade assets and get a top 5 pick. Just like last year.

Ginner Classic:

Baertschi Horvat Eriksson – Top Line
Sedin Sedin Goldobin – Scoring Line
Granlund Burmistrov Sutter – Checking Line
Gaunce Gagner Virtanen – Kid Line

Boeser, Boucher – AHL


It really depends on the camp. The D lines at least are simple:


The Edler Stecher combo should be a good offensive threat, then the other two pairs are one puck mover, one shut down guy.

The prospects are battling for a few spots:


In an ideal world, Boeser continues to dominate and slots in with Bo/Bae, and Rodin/Goldy/Virtanen or someone slots into the 3rd line. That pushes Gagner to work on a very good 4th line which could be Gagner/Gaunce/ Dorsett, Virtanen, Burms etc.


Everything that Gagner has done in his career to date indicates to me he’s a better offensive and defensive player than Sutter. His underlying relative stats over the course of his career, but especially in the last 3 years since he got out of Edmonton, indicate that he can hold his head above water, while his EV Pts/60 is miles ahead of Sutter, showing he doesn’t just produce on the powerplay. I understand he has a low FO% and doesn’t take as many as Sutter, but hopefully a year with Malhotra will improve that and Sutter will still be used situationally for his (relative) faceoff prowess.

TL;DR: Gagner should be 3rd line C over Sutter.



I’m really scared of that Hutton-Gudbranson pairing to be honest. Almost think it would be useful to drop Edler down to shelter Guddy. Maybe a young pairing of Hutton-Stecher, with Tanev supporting MDZ would work more effectively.


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  • livininvic

    Is it too early to call the Baertschi / Bo / Boeser line the Killer B’s? I know it is, but I really wanna hear Green yell “SEND OUT THE KILLER B’s!” 😀 I’ll probably ask this for the Monday Mailbag just to be a dork…

  • wojohowitz

    There are several players who will be questionable at the start of training camp. Rodin`s knee is not 100% now so he can not work out properly. Wiercioch has the skills to be a top four defenceman but he also had conditioning problems in the past and could be the first cut at camp. Boucher wants a one way contract but he also has a history of conditioning shortcomings. If he gets a one way contract the Canucks will waive him. Gaunce had surgery and may not be ready in September.

    • Ragnarok Ouroboros

      Where did you hear that Rodin’s knee is not 100%. He had season ending surgery quite a while ago, but I have not heard any further status updates on him to think he could not play.

      • Neil B

        There’s the structural issue, and then there’s whether the connective tissue & muscles have recovered from the trauma of surgery. And then we’re dealing with the whole question of rehab, breaking down scar tissues, etc. 100% might be a while yet. Functional is right now, from the sounds of it.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    The easy answer is “anyone who doesn’t earn a spot”. I think the Canucks do have the luxury of giving roster spots to their prospects if they think that they are ready and that it would fit with their development. They also have a coach that likely has player development as part of his mandate. So any or all of Boeser, Goldobin, Dahlin, Virtanen could make the opening day roster at the expense of any of Boucher, Rodin, Burmistrov, Megna, Chaput and possibly Gaunce. If I was a betting man, I would wager that Boeser and Goldobin have the best chance of making the team at the expense of Boucher, Rodin, Megna or Chaput. Potential lineup:
    Sedin – Sedin – Eriksson
    Baer – Bo – Boeser
    Gagner – Sutter – Goldobin or Rodin?
    Gaunce – Granlund – Burmistrov

    Boucher, Megna, Chaput, Dahlin, Virtanen and one of Rodin/Goldobin get sent down.

    Defense is pretty set without a trade. I don’t see a lot of sense in promoting a prospect to be the 7th defenseman. So barring a trade, Juolevi (SEL?) and Subban (Utica) stay down. I think Pedan or Holm have a shot at beating out Wiercioch for #7, but probably get sent down (possibly lost to waivers in the case of Pedan). Juolevi might force a trade.

  • Burmistrov, Gagner, Rodin, Wiercioch and Del Zotto are all on one-way contracts which means Benning has every expectation that they will be on the NHL roster now. Let Boeser, Goldobin, Dahlen, Virtanen, MacEwen, Labate, and Molino gel as a cohort in Utica and experience success as a team against lesser competition. As they filter into the NHL roster over the next two years, they’ll be excellent reinforcements for Horvat, Baertschi, Granlund, Sutter, Gagner, the Sedins (if still willing) and Eriksson. No need to hustle during the trade deadline or free agency to fill spots in the roster. And that doesn’t even include forwards like Pettersson, Lockwood, Gaudette or the 2017 draft class.

    • Silverback

      I don’t think Pedan will be called up and subsequently sent down again. Management knows he will not clear waivers. If he is called up, I think a trade will be in the works or he will remain with the big club.

  • I am Ted

    Virtanen, Chaput, Megna, Molino, Rodin and then it might be between Gaunce and Boucher. Dahlin will probably go to Europe. Juolevi can still learn the game and get more seasoning. Subban is likely out. Weircioch may make it as our 7th guy but I am pulling for Pedan there. Biega will likely head down too.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Goldobin has played enough in the AHL, he needs to cut his teeth in the NHL now or they should just trade him. I would rather he play than Chaput, Megna, Boucher, or Virtannen who I think should all be sent to the AHL.

    Boeser should be given a chance in the NHL as well. He tore it up in his 9 game stint last year. It would make no sense from a PR stand point, or a team stand point to send him to the AHL right away. They have to sell tickets some way, and Megna and Chaput are not going to sell tickets.

    When watching Gaunce last year, I felt he was on the verge of breaking out but had awful puck luck. I definetly want him to play in the NHL this year to show what he can do.

    Canucks seem to have a tonne of forwards signed, so I’m not sure where they all will play. The Utica Comets will be a good team this year though.

    • Virtanen is a cautionary tale about selling tickets vs. maximizing player development. I’d be hesitant to rush Boeser into the line-up, even though he had a stellar 9 game stint. He’s only played 32-42 games per season at UND against the same peer group. A quick look at the current UND schedule shows they usually play only about 9 back-to-back weekend away games, a far cry from 41 NHL away games against the world’s best players.

      • Killer Marmot

        Virtanen’s problem was not that he was of rushed into the line-up. Virtanen’s problem was lack of self discipline, where he failed to come into camp fit and ready to play.

        Granted that may have been caused by immaturity, but many young players have not fallen into that trap, and I doubt there was a reason to think Virtanen would either.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Obviously the key piece here is Boeser, as the best player on the bubble. Starting the year in Utica wouldn’t hurt him one bit. Goldobin has already showed that he’s too good to keep in the AHL, and at Rodin’s age and with his recent experiences, I think you give him his shot in the NHL on his 1 year deal and find out, yes or no, if you’ve got an NHL talent there. So, I think Goldobin, Boucher and Rodin should all start the season with the big club. Along with the Sedins, Eriksson, Granlund, Gagner, Horvat, Baertschi, Sutter, Gaunce, Burmistrov and Dorsett, that makes 14 forwards. Boeser, Dahlen, Virtanen, Molino, MacEwen, Megna and Chaput should all be in Utica, with the expectation that Boeser and Molino could be top 6 or bottom 6 injury callup replacements, respectively, fairly quickly. Megna, Chaput, Virtanen and Dahlen should all spend most or all of the season in the AHL.

    On D, with Edler, Stecher, Tanev, Del Zotto, Gudbranson, Hutton and Wiercioch all on one way deals, it probably means Pedan, Holm, Subban, Biega and Chatfield will be in Utica, and Juolevi might even end up in junior for another year. That’s sort of the downside to some of these NHL free agent signings, that there really aren’t that many roster spots available for younger players like Subban unless you want to either lose a valuable piece to waivers, trade a veteran or bury salary in the minors.

    • Cageyvet

      This most accurately mirrors my sentiments, with asset management (sorry for using this beaten-to-death term again) ruling the day. We’ve dodged a few bullets of late, sneaking Pedan through waivers a couple of years in a row and losing Sbisa (not Gaunce or Boucher) in the expansion draft. We can’t afford to lose any more of our potential success stories, so here’s how I’d like to see it play out:

      If you’re highly thought of and the NHL is the place to groom you, such as the Sedins who were clearly granted iced time they hadn’t actually earned vs veterans on the roster, then management dictates you play, not the coaching staff.

      If you’ve got the chops but have never proven it at the AHL level, and are waiver exempt, perhaps you start there for the overall good of the team, meaning Boeser may be this year’s Stecher.

      If we waive some free agents, no loss, but hang on to the youth at all costs. Where they start doesn’t matter, having them in the organization does.

  • Rodeobill

    I think juolevi is gonna make too strong a case this year and he stays. Going to Junior another year is pointless for him, and the fans are going to need something to watch with hope this season to keep people invested in this team. The same goes for Boeser. From the eye test at the end of last season, and even beyond his goals with a gimpy wrist, he was the only one who looked dangerous most shifts while still playing a fairly smart two way game. Keeping these two up may represent both the best situation for their development in having them play against challenging competition, and the team’s best chance to remain “competitive” and not get blown out all season. Fortifying the Defense is really going to help the new Goalie tandem and moving the puck up ice for our rebuilding forward corps. Goldy could possible fit in this as well if they decide out of camp.

  • Sneptsy

    All this talk is about players being gifted a spot. I say no if you perform to nhl standard fit with the team you stay if not you get traded or go to the minors, that is only if you have a NTC