Some of the Canucks top prospects have descended on Vancouver to participate in the organization’s development camp this week.
Amid the fun activities like zip line, cooking, and Jenga, the players have seen some time on the ice over the last couple of days. A spattering of fans and media types were able to finally see Quintin Hughes join the group yesterday.
It can be easy to overvalue these on-ice sessions at development camp. These are drills and exercises done to help develop these players and not game situations. The excellent players will stand out, while some others may appear to struggle as they work to round out their games. The organization will use these as opportunities for development over the summer and into next season.
With that point made – here are some of the things that stood out to me while at the practice yesterday:
- Jack Rathbone looked more comfortable and bigger compared to twelve months ago. Last year, it appeared that he had a bit of ‘deer in the headlights’ to his game, whereas this year, he was more assertive and confident in everything he did. He also appears to have added some upper body strength without sacrificing his agility. He is someone that I intend on following very closely at Harvard, to get an idea of how he will stack up with the increased level of competition. The Canucks took a good risk with him in the fourth round last year and he appears to be trending in the right direction that will be aided by the longer development path of the NCAA.
- Petrus Palmu can really shoot the puck. Relying strictly on video the last year to follow him, it was hard to get a grasp on his shot. He has a quick and heavy release that was going top shelf or ringing off the post. He is still that fire hydrant with strong lower body strength that allows him to protect the puck well. It’s expected that he will head to the AHL next season and could very well be paired with his junior linemate Jonah Gadjovich.
- Hughes is a really good skater and efficient puck mover. Not really much to say there as he is really good at this hockey thing. It’s shocking, I know.
- Jett Woo is a really interesting player. He has good size and mobility already. It will be really interesting to see what role he has with Moose Jaw this upcoming season. If he is given that larger offensive role, as I expect, his numbers could rise quickly and make the pick look even better. He may not have been the player that I would’ve taken at 37, it’s a very defensible pick based on his position, stick-handedness, type of game, and potential.
- Tyler Madden didn’t really stand out to me in any way. He looks very slight but that will naturally improve as he ages.
- Michael DiPietro and Matthew Thiessen had a good session with the Canucks goaltending staff prior to the defenceman coming out. Working on some movements off the post, getting square after pushoffs, and directing pucks. All basic practice stuff, but was interesting to see that those two had all the top staff, while the top invites were on the other end. It makes sense to do it this way.
- Colton Poolman was always the one who stood out to me from the invited group and continued to do so on the ice yesterday. He is not a flashy defenceman but moves the puck efficiently, skates well, and has a good shot. He will be returning to the University of North Dakota this fall, but when he does leave school, the Canucks would be wise to pursue him as a UFA.
- Tyler Soy is a little rough around the edges as a player but I think he is someone that the Canucks will invite back for Young Stars and then possibly send him to Utica’s training camp.
Thursday’s scrimmage will be fun to watch as we get to see these players in a more game-like situation. You don’t want to take too much away from the intra-squad game, but hopefully, we’ll see some dazzling plays like we did last season.
After this, we will see Quinn Hughes, Jett Woo, Toni Utunen, and Michael DiPietro at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Kamloops.