If you’re the type of Canucks fan that feeds on positivity, then today is a good day for you! Two Canucks prospects have been named the Player of the Week for their respective CHL league, another feather in the cap of those in charge of Vancouver’s draft and development program which has been doing nothing but smooth sailing since the trade deadline.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) September 25, 2017
First up, we have Kole Lind, who has blown the doors off the WHL in the opening weekend, racking up three goals and eight points in just two games, which is frankly ridiculous. Being that it was the league’s opening weekend, Lind is the WHL’s first 2017-18 recipient of the honour, setting an awfully high standard for his peers to match in the weeks going forward.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) September 25, 2017
Lind, the 33rd overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, impressed the local fans at the Penticton Young Stars tournament, where he posted three points in the opening game and looked both skillful and responsible all weekend. He also managed to get into an NHL exhibition game last week, before being reassigned to his WHL squad.
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) September 25, 2017
Meanwhile in Ontario, Canucks goaltending prospect Michael DiPietro is off to a hot start as well. His opening week includes three games, three wins, 86 saves, a .966 save percentage and a shut out. His team, the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, have shot out of the gate and look to be gunning for a repeat.
You can see highlights of against the Saginaw Spirit and London Knights by following these links. Below I’ve posted highlights from his shutout against the Guelph Storm. His sprawling save against Alexey Toropchenko at about the 1:10 mark of the video is particularly spectacular.
DiPietro, taken 64th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, is also coming off of his first NHL training camp, though he didn’t see any NHL action. The athletic, if average sized netminder has a boatload of confidence to go with his highly impressive numbers. Canucks goalie coaches Dan Cloutier and Curtis Sanford have surely given him plenty of homework to take back to Windsor this year. Technique is still a work in progress for him, and his aggressiveness can occasionally leave him vulnerable against forward of a higher skill level; but he clearly has no issues against OHL competition.
Both DiPietro and Lind will be looking to crack Canada’s World Junior squad this season, and a pair of early accolades will surely keep them on the nation’s radar.
Between the performances of these two players and the fine starts for the likes of Elias Pettersson, Petrus Palmu, and Jonah Gadjovich, it’s been a pretty good run of late for Canucks prospects. While it’s unlikely that Lind’s four points per game and DiPietro’s sky high save percentage will persist much longer, they certainly have made it an enjoyable first week of major-junior hockey for us on the West Coast.