We’ve officially reached the dog days of summer. The hockey world had ground to a halt, and anyone still following the Canucks has precious little elements left to dissect. In other words, it’s the time for lineup speculation.
One player a lot of Canucks fans are speculating about Elias Pettersson. Not only about his potential linemates, but whether he starts at centre or wing. Where do you put Petersson in the lineup? What linemates would you like to see him with?
Last week I asked: Where would you like to see Quinn Hughes next season?
North Van Halen:
I’d sign him and start him in Utica with the rest of the kids. As the season wears on and attrition and/or trades take their course, I’d give him some games to get him used to the NHL pace. I’d be in no hurry to surpass the 9 game threshold unless he was blowing the doors off the AHL. Even then, there’s no hurry.
This year and next should be about developing the young core. Having a bunch of them bond & grow in Utica certainly can’t hurt the process.
The problem with this theory is I doubt Hughes signs to play a majority of the year in Utica, it’s more likely he goes back to Michigan which is fine too, but that’s what I’d try.
Michigan has a strong hockey program and is a good school. But given where Hughes was drafted, the degree won’t really be his future meal ticket (Rathbone at Harvard, by contrast, is a completely different story.) So, I’d rather see Hughes turn pro and develop under the eye of professional coaches with his future teammates in either the NHL or AHL depending how camp goes. Yeah, Hughes could build up some more strength, but Bobby Orr wasn’t much bigger than Hughes when he entered the league.
If Hughes agrees, send him back to Michigan where he can finish another year of school, hit the gym, and dominate the NCAA with Lockwood. Focus on finding ice-time for Juolevi, if he shows he’s ready for the NHL. Definitely sign Hughes for 2019-2020, when you can figure out if Edler wants to resign on a team-friendly deal, JB and Green can figure out if Pouliot and Hutton are worth keeping, and you can let MDZ walk as a UFA. For now, we can pencil in rookie Hughes, a more experienced Juolevi, and a veteran like Edler as our 2019-2020 starting LHD with a other decent LHD as depth (e.g. Brisebois, McEneny, another Utica standout).
Not to repeat myself from last week but…
Give him a cup of coffee at the NHL and then send him down to Utica with Kole Lind, Adam Gaudette, Thatcher Demko, and possibly even Elias Petterson. Follow the Leafs’ example from 15-16 – stack your AHL team with potentially-elite young talent and let them wreck worlds while forming chemistry and personal bonds, and then bring them up as a group the following season.
Hughes will get professional experience, make some money, and be given time to develop his game further in an environment that will be more forgiving of mistakes and more open to experimentation than an NHL roster, and the Comets will have a very good shot at the Calder. Then bring him (and the rest of that young crew) up in 2019 so he can take a run at the other Calder.