The big day is almost upon us. That’s right: we’re a mere day away from the beginning of the Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season.
A lot has happened since we last saw this team play a regular season game. There’s a whole host of new faces, each coming in to fill varying roles with varied expectations. Even some of the familiar faces in this market are finding new ways to either remain relevant or regain relevancy in the Canucks lineup. Others, well, they’re struggling just to hang on to their NHL job. It’s a blank slate, and with a new coach and a new season, the Canucks get to mark it as they see fit.
With that, I wanted to ask some of the writers at Canucks Army who’s caught their eye at training camp. Not just the good, but the bad, too. They didn’t disappoint.
Good: While Jake Virtanen is an easy pick for his bounce-back, I will have to say Brock Boeser. Not only did Boeser look good in all of his games, but he also looked like he’ll be one of the most talented forwards on the Canucks roster this season (if not the most talented Canucks forward).
Bad: Olli Juolevi. This one is not so much on the player, but on the optics of Juolevi due to expectations placed on him with where he was selected and the language from management. Despite failing to show dominance at the OHL level, most of the talk over the offseason surrounding Juolevi was about him having a legitimate chance at making the NHL.
While Juolevi received a little more criticism than what he deserved from his preseason play there are still some legitimate concerns around him showing no significant signs of progression and looking like he isn’t anywhere close to the NHL level yet. The optics of Juolevi’s preseason were made worse by other defensemen from his draft class not only cracking the NHL but proving they belong and can contribute at a high level. He is a player who will suffer from a lot of criticism over the upcoming years for something entirely out of his control – where the Canucks drafted him.
Juolevi looks like he is still a couple of years away from full-time NHL action, which should’ve been the expectations placed on him from day one. Juolevi had never shown that he’d be able to step in immediately into the NHL and it was probably going to be three-to-fours years before he realistically cracked the NHL in a full-time role. This is year two, and there’s no reason to hit the panic button.
Given the talk heading into the preseason, Juolevi was probably the most significant bad surprise after not showing any considerable progression signs due to the optics of it. However, given what the actual expectations should be surrounding the Finnish blueliner, this preseason was just another step in the road for Juolevi.
With that said, there were still positives to take out of Juolevi’s preseason, including his ability to make a breakout pass. He’ll be back next year, and hopefully this time he’ll be making the decision tougher for Canucks management.
I could only watch a couple of preseason games, but Jake Virtanen was very noticeable (in a good way) during the bits I saw. He’s my answer.
I was optimistic about Chatfield going in, but I was surprised that he showed as well as he did in camp. Carcone impressed me more than I thought he would as well. Not the sexy answers… but I was paying more attention to the Comets kids.
The good: Besides Boeser and Virtanen, I thought Jalen Chatfield had a really good pre-season. He’s been a pleasant surprise, and I’m excited to see how he’ll perform in Utica.
The bad: Juolevi because of the reasons Tyler said above, and also Nikolay Goldobin. He wasn’t necessarily bad, but I expected more a lot out of him.
The good: I’d hate to give this an echo chamber vibe, but is there any answer other than Jake Virtanen that makes sense? I know it’s just the pre-season, but the kid was flying. Virtanen was great defensively, as his great underlying metrics can attest, and he had four goals in six games. What else could you ask of the kid? I had Virtanen earmarked for the Comets, and then he comes into camp and just forces his way onto the team. Have to give credit where credit is due.
The bad: It has to be Olli Juolevi, right? I was legitimately excited to see what Juolevi could bring to the table in Canucks training camp after watching him down the stretch with the London Knights last season. The problem was, he stunk. It started in Penticton, where he was average at best and a trainwreck defensively at worst. I think he’s struggling to adjust to the 14 pounds he put on over the summer. With a year’s worth of seasoning in Finland, one hopes he can get used to his new frame and force his way onto the team next camp. At this year’s camp, though, he just wasn’t good. There’s no way around it.
Granlund. Well, it’s not no much that he had a great camp, it’s that Shinkaruk got sent down, so Granlund automatically becomes great.