Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Roundtable: Training Camp

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.

Jackson McDonald

Jared McCann

Tyler Horsfal

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.

Grainne Downey

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.

Vanessa Jang

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.

J.D. Burke

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.

  • Jamie E

    Given where the game is going and the focus on skill and speed, why the obsession with packing 15-20 pounds onto a teenagers body in the 90 days following season’s end? And I ask this not just in reference to Juolevi, but more generally. Does it not make eminently more sense to focus on strength and conditioning and let players add weight naturally over time? Same thing happened to Virtanen last year.

    • Holly Wood

      I agree that 15-20 lbs over the course of an off season is a bad idea not to mention a lack of monitoring by Canuck staff. A 19 year old athlete will likely be adding 5-10 lbs annually of natural weight and muscle.

  • Jabs

    Aside from those who made the team, I was very impressed with the little that I saw of Kole Lind. He is very skillful at stickhandling in tight spaces and makes dynamic passes that always seem to find an open team mate. I look forward to seeing him grow stronger and eventually make this team.

    And finally, to Jackson McDonald who trolled his response, Eric Gudbranson looked very good and will be a very effective for this team this year now that he is healthy.

  • apr

    Can we just stop the “just play Subban” once the inevitable rash of injuries to the d happens. He’s actually gotten worse, both his play on d and his humility in understanding his deficiencies. He’s a terrible defenseman, and I would rather McEneny, Chatfield, and Holm get the PP time to hone their craft in Utica.

  • North Van Halen

    Wow Jackson, that joke was super funny the first dozen times Money Puck & Pet Bugs made it. But you making it again. .sheer brilliance. I mean the unoriginality, the banality, the lack of meaningful contribution.

    Really it’s what this site has been missing. At least your lack of effort and meaningful insight is consistent

    • Doodly Doot

      Well said NVH. CA should shoot for higher quality than his contributions provide. When I see Jackson’s name, I just skip the content. You say banality. I say smarmy twiticism.

      Training Camp – My Take

      The good: Travis Green (he’s a beaut!), Granny and Baertchi (taking the next step) Virtanen and Boeser (clearly ready for ‘mostly’ full time duty), Rodin, Archibald and Chatfield (quality call-ups with intriguing upside), Markstrom and Nilsson (decent quality backstoppers in a competitive environment).

      The not so good: The Sedins and Vanek (faded glory), the ‘Power Play’ (yikes), team ‘size’ (too light for our division), team ‘speed’ (not enough), Goldobin (he’s not NHL ready? how? why?), Juolevi (he’s not NHL ready! because!), China.

      • Silverback

        Maybe I’m late to the party. Did Jackson edit his contribution? What I read was no where as bad as everyone says. In fact it seemed like a fair assessment of Juolevi.

        • Doodly Doot

          Hey Silverback! No, you just confused Tyler’s contribution (which was thoughtful and excellent!) for Jackson’s. Look closely and you’ll see that JM’s contribution was the two words “Jared McCann”. Jackson is concise if not clever.

  • Dirk22

    Two years in a row there are separate TOP 6 picks coming into camp overweight and under performing. Somebody has to be accountable for the training programs these guys are on – assuming they’re getting them from the Canucks. The big story next year will be Juolevi losing 10 pounds and feeling much quicker out there. What a joke.

    Normally I’m not one for comparing Juolevi to McAvoy, Sergachev etc. as some guys are going to progress at different rates. That being said, how is Victor Mete – younger, smaller and drafted 95 slots after Juolevi – excelling with the Canadiens already and we’re talking about our prized prospect being overweight?

    • johnno

      excellent post and couldn’t agree more. It’s an alarming problem that CA should be delving into more. Practically every Canucks draftee is told by Jim Benning they have to pack on more size and weight, then they go backwards.

      The most alarming recent case is Elias Petterssen. How on Earth is this kid going to pack on 25-30 pounds and still be able to utilise his speed game, it just isn’t possible to bulk up and be expected to progress, as proven by Juolevi, Virtanen and many others who are unable to live up to expectation.

      • Dirk22

        Not very complicated. This is the GM who is just realizing that big lumbering defencemen are out of vogue in today’s NHL – as if that’s some big revelation.

        • Canucks Realist

          That’s the problem Dirk, instead of constructing and implimenting a clear plan and team identity like astute winning GMs do (Chicago, Pitts etc) Benning changes course to try and copy whoever wins the cup… if LA or Boston win it again he will be back to big and lumbering, it really is appaling how inept this loser Benning is heading into year four.

  • wojohowitz

    What did we learn in training camp? The Canucks have a half dozen good young prospects who will be playing for Utica this weekend and will probably be in Vancouver before the end of the season because the old, soft and slow team that will open the season here has no hope of being competitive. Is management fooling themselves or hoping to fool the fanbase that aging veterans like Vanek, Gagner and Zotto will make a difference? Twenty games in the youngsters will start arriving and attendance will go up as the future arrives.

  • Steamer

    Hope team plans on playing Virtanen – not the best choice for 13th forward – needs to play to continue to develop. If somebody sits, let it be Archibald or Dorsett; if Virtanen not dressing ( & last few days he’s been the odd man out in practice lines ), he needs to be in Utica, bring up Rodin instead. Eriksson needs to have a BIG year, or it is going to be a long season with 5 more years anchored to that 6 million$ contract. Be interesting to see if Green keeps his word about sitting non-producers?

    • TD

      He’s not living up to it if he sits Virtanen tomorrow. I know it was only the preseason, but there was not a lot of productivity from the older vets, including many of the newly signed players. I think Jake earned his spot with his 4 goals and otherwise good play. I have no problem taking him out of he doesn’t continue the hard work, but I can’t think of many forwards that were better in camp. So much for merit based.

      • Bobaner

        I listened to a pretty interesting take on veterans in the pre season from Ray Ferraro, suggesting that at best they’re only giving about 80% effort. Pre season is basically for the kids to earn their spots and for the adults to shake off the rust.

        • truthseeker

          yeah, personally I don’t really care how bad the Vets look in the preseason.

          Not to mention, anyone who would ever question the dedication of the twins to their fitness and effort towards the game, is a person who should not be taken seriously on any issue.

    • Doodly Doot

      I have a strong suspicion that Green plays Virtanen tomorrow. This is what I hope we may come to appreciate about this coach: that he keeps his players on edge and full of creative tension and energy going into every game. And afterwards, he’ll effectively manage media interest with concise aplomb.

  • Canucks Realist

    Some of you self-loathing Benning apologists need to quit whining about the staff or GO – you won’t be missed.

    Jackson is spot on, I watched the Fla v Tampa game last night and Jared McCann was excellent, looks like he has made the show and is sticking. Same for Sergachev, absolute powerhouse and fits like a glove on the blueline at only 19. Remind me, how are Guddy and Juolevi doing again?


    • Doodly Doot

      Hey Canucks Realist! I’m also a Jared McCann fan. He’s starting to look like a 3rd line center on a line with Brickley and Bjugstad. I’m rooting for him and it looks like he’s progressing well in life. You should choose to do the same. Your anger and bitterness does nobody any good. Here’s a cool Panthers blog you might prefer to post comments on: https://www.litterboxcats.com