Free agency has come and gone, which means news is slowing down as far as the home team is concerned. As a result, the question of Quinn Hughes’ future dominated the cycle this week. Our own Ryan Biech took a look at the Canucks’ options for Hughes next season yesterday, and he’s been a popular conversation topic on local radio this week.
The team has a few options. They can let him go back to college, where he’ll get big minutes in a leadership role for the University of Michigan. They can also sign him to an entry-level contract, which would allow him to play in both the AHL and the NHL. Where would you like to see Quinn Hughes next season?
Last week I asked: Which rookies do you think should make the team next season? Which should start the season in Utica?
All of them. Well okay, maybe not Hughes if we’re being realistic. But seriously, Gaudette is 22 and a great two-way player. Dahlen is 21 and has already played against men in Europe. Petterson is the best NHL affiliated prospect in the world not already in the NHL. Juolevi is now the *only* top 10 pick from his draft class not playing in the NHL. This is a league where players are increasingly breaking into the league as teenagers and playing their best hockey in their mid or even early 20s. There’s absolutely no explanation for any of these guys not making the team besides indefensible roster management. Trade whoever you can of Tanev, Del Zotto, Baertschi, Granlund, Gagner, and Leipsic. Bury whoever you can’t in the minors. If we must have a bunch of “grit” like Beagle and Roussel fine. But the roster is still rife with dead weight and mediocre tweeners. Clear it all out and ice a roster with 4+ rookies. There will still be plenty of competition for actual playing time from more established youngsters like Gaunce, Goldobin, Virtanen and Boeser.
The prospects start in Utica (including Hughes and Pettersson), with the understanding that if they had a good camp and perform well for the Comets that they will be given an opportunity as they come up as soon as possible. Then fill out the roster as injuries/trades occur. Starting lineup would be:
Baertschi Horvat Boeser
Eriksson Sutter Goldobin
Leipsic Beagle JV
Roussel Schaller Gagner
If roster space is needed based on the prospect performances, work to trade Gagner and/or Granlund at forward and MDZ, Hutton and/or Pouliot before or by the deadline. If Petersson or Gaudette prove that they can be an effective 2C, consider a Sutter trade.
Who they should have up with the big club, and who they will have are two different things. From the FA signing frenzy, I feel only EP will make the show, where everyone else will be in Utica.
In a world where GMJBTL didn’t load the NHL roster with vets, then Id have Gaudette, EP, Dahlen (if he shows he is ready).
I’m going to make two assumptions. One, that they’ve had a camp good enough to make it to the NHL. And two, that roster space will be created if they prove themselves. (not likely) If those conditions existed then….
… as many of them as possible. EP for sure. Gaudette for sure. Hughes for sure. Demko for sure. Juolevi for sure. All of them, provided they don’t crash and burn in camp should get an extended look in the NHL right away.
I even think Jett Woo should be given a good long look if he seems like he can handle it.
Gino’s 3rd Cousin:
The only ones I would consider out of the gates at this point are Juolevi and Petterson. Slow cook the other rookies in Utica. If any show promise have them ready for injury callup. As much as I want to see him now, Hughes can do one more year of development in Michigan. I’m prepared for one to two more years of pain.
All the rookies should remain in Utica for the full season. The Comets are headed for the top of the AHL standings, and the Canucks are virtually guaranteed another bottom-5 finish. Isn’t the justification for these terrible signings that the young players need to develop in a “winning environment”? The Comets are that. The Canucks are not.