Welcome to a whole new season of Canucks hockey! While the jury is still on whether the Canucks will be any more entertaining this year than they were the last two, if the first week was any indication, their prospects will at least provide some more interest. Over the past week or two, all three CHL leagues got underway, joining the top European leagues in regular season action. This weekend, NCAA exhibition games will begin, and NHL exhibition games will end, which in turn means that AHL rosters will be populated. Things are definitely happening.
When hockey things happen, people want to know when, and that’s I’ve created the indispensable Complete Canucks Schedule, so you’ll know which teams, and which prospects play on which days (provided that I can find them – more on that later). But enough of this intro; what you’re really here for is my pretty chart. You’ll find that below, followed by some notes on various prospects.
Click for an enlargeable image.
- There’s been a huge shift in balance this season. Last year in Canadian major-junior, we had two WHL prospects, two OHL prospects, and five QMJHL prospects – and Olli Juolevi was the only one we really cared about. This year, there’s no QMJHL prospects at all, and the CHL has a handful of Canucks prospects that you’ll want to pay attention to, especially the Canucks second, third, and fourth picks from this past draft.
- First there’s Kole Lind, who’s played but two games and has already amassed eight points. Is four points per game sustainable? Probably not, but it sure is an awesome start, and he’s looked damn good.
- In his single game so far, Jonah Gadjovich‘s two points don’t like quite as impressive next to Lind’s totals – but his nine shots on goal are certainly grab your attention. His line, which includes Vegas prospect Nick Suzuki, and Kevin Hancock, combined for 26 shots on net in Owen Sound’s season opener. That’s just filthy.
- Meanwhile, on the other side of the ice, goaltending prospect Michael DiPietro is off to a hot start in Windsor. The defending Memorial Cup champions have won each of their first three games, and even though they scored 12 goals in those games, they could have gotten away with a lot less. That’s because DiPietro has stopped 86 of the 89 shots he’s faced, for a gaudy .966 save percentage.
- The other big shift in Canucks prospect balance has been to the European elite leagues. There are currently seven prospects plying their trades over there, and it seems like that Olli Juolevi will head there too by the time Canucks training camp is over. Elias Pettersson and Petrus Palmu have been the big point getters so far – a trend that’s likely to persist.
- For the last couple of seasons, figuring out where Lukas Jasek has been playing in any given week has been an adventure in and of itself. That has come to an end now that he is firmly entrenched in the Liberec lineup. He’s even putting up points – amazing what regular ice time can down. *glares at Trinec*
- In Jasek’s stead, Dmitry Zhukenov has taken over the mantle of “prospect I can’t find”. Russian hockey is well underway, and I’ve already lost Zhukenov. He played but three games for Avangard Omsk, but is no longer listed on their active roster. He appears to have been moved to their MHL affiliate, where he has played two games, but finding MHL active rosters isn’t exactly a walk in the park. I guess we’ll find out sometime today, when both the KHL and MHL Omsk teams are in action.
Update on Zhukenov: He has been found! He is back playing in the KHL again, as of today, and his schedule for the remainder of the week has been added.
- The Canucks’ best non-professional prospect, Adam Gaudette, begins his season on Saturday, sort of, with an exhibition game against the University of Prince Edward Island. On the same day, Will Lockwood‘s Michigan Wolverines will host the University of Western Ontario. If history is any indication, both of those Canadian universities should get walloped. Both Northeastern and Michigan are good, by NCAA standards, and CIS hockey teams are, generally, not good.
- The Utica Comets will have their first two exhibition games this weekend: a home and home series against their archrivals, the Syracuse Crunch.