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Roster Down The Road: The 3rd Pair

I’d love to be able to tell you guys differently, but BC is still on fire… So, as Canuck fans patiently wait for the smoke to subside, we continue to eagerly await the arrival of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and other notable prospects in the Vancouver system. With this current group of future prospects and current young players, I wondered if the Canucks could build a contender from within. Going through the system, I came to the realization it’s entirely possible. I’ve come up with a roster of young players that the Canucks could see in their lineup by 2022-2023 (When the Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel contracts expire).

For this exercise, we will only be using players already in the Canucks system, and we won’t be contemplating any new young players the Canucks could potentially draft (Sorry Jack Hughes). Finally, we’re going to use the Sporting News prospect ranking the most.

We’ve touched on the goaltenders, and in the last piece talked about two defensemen who I like, but don’t crack my optimistic roster outlook. Today, I’m going to touch on the 3rd pair for the Canucks in 2022-2023.

2022-2023 ROSTER (PROGRESS)

Left Wing 1 – Center 1 – Right Wing 1
Left Wing 2 – Center 2 – Right Wing 2

Left Wing 3 – Center 3 – Right Wing 3
Left Wing 4 – Center 4 – Right Wing 4

Wildcard F 1


Left Defense 1 – Right Defense 1
Left Defense 2 – Right Defense 2
Left Defense 3 – Right Defense 3

Toni Utunen  – Matt Brassard

 

Thatcher Demko

Michael DiPietro

 

3RD PAIR D MEN

Right Defense #3

Jalen Chatfield

Image: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Starting on the right side of the 3rd pair, Jalen Chatfield slides in as one of the bottom pairing defensemen on the Canucks roster. An undrafted junior free agent; Chatfield signed a three-year entry level contract with the Canucks in March of 2017 and has not disappointed. Chatfield has been a strong addition to a weak right-handed defense pool and adds a stable, quietly effective two-way game. Chatfield is not on the top 10 of Canucks prospects as per the Sporting News prospect rankings. Chatfield’s career is similar to that of Chris Tanev, as they both signed their entry-level deals after being undrafted (Tanev from the NCAA, Chatfield from Windsor of the OHL) at the age of 20 years old. As it stands, my optimistic outlook for Chatfield is that of a Chris Tanev build, with a little more nastiness and durability. Down below are some base stats and a highlight video for the Michigan native.

(Chatfield’s stats starting from his age 16 season courtesy of Eliteprospects.com)

Beginning with the T1EHL U18 league; his age 16 and 17 seasons spent in the Belle Tire U18 team were quite solid. Good offensive progression from year to year while not taking too many penalties. As he gets into the OHL at 18, he goes through some growing pains. The highlights shown above are from Chatfield’s memorial cup winning season as a 20-year-old with the Windsor Spitfires in 2016-2017. Although his numbers drop slightly, Jalen shows off good wheels, a strong slap shot, excellent defensive awareness, and that nasty streak I want to see from a bottom pairing defender. Chatfield was also a leader on the memorial cup winning team, serving as an alternate captain. This past season in Utica, Chatfield’s game was praised numerous times. Speaking of praise, Canucks Army’s own Cory Hergott spoke about Chatfield on an episode of Nation Network Radio and had this to say.

“I see a lot of Chris Tanev in his game, he’s very good along the boards; he’s super calm and cool… [Marlies forward] Marchment had a good head start on him to get to a puck in the Comets zone and Chatfield tracked him down, got the puck, and turned it over the other way to get the Comets going in the other direction. That’s something we see from him game in and game out: he’s fast. He’s also got some pretty decent stick work… I’d like to see him shoot the puck more. He’s gaining a little confidence with his shot. He finally picked up a pair of goals in the last couple of games of the season… I like him. I think there’s a good chance he’s a player down the road.”

Of course, why would Chatfield be effective on this Canucks roster in 2022-2023? Chatfield hitting as a top 6 D man gives the Canucks a hard working, smooth skating bottom pair D man with the ability to play on the penalty kill. A new age defensive defenseman able to get the puck to his other defence partner or create an outlet to the forwards is critical to succeed in today’s NHL. Chatfield would provide stability, nastiness, leadership qualities, a strong work ethic he’ll demonstrate to his younger teammates, all the while doing his job. His lack of offensive upside limits his projection, but that’s ok. Chatfield’s progression in the build-up should include him getting some NHL games THIS SEASON to see how he acclimates. By 2019-2020 I would like to see Chatfield up in the NHL on a full-time basis, and during 2020-2022 (2 seasons) he could play up and down the defence core while some of the other prospects fill in to form. With how well Chatfield played last year in Utica, he’ll earn his cup of coffee sooner rather then later, especially if the injuries pile up on the Canucks blue line for a 3rd straight year.

Left Defense #3

Jack Rathbone

Image: Vancouver Canucks / Instagram

Our left side bottom pairing defenseman on the Canucks 2022-2023 roster is one of my favourite prospects in the Vancouver system, 19-year-old Jack Rathbone. Rathbone was a 4th round draft pick in 2017, which looks to be Benning’s best draft class to date. Rathbone is a dynamic, smooth skating offensive defenseman, and when I say smooth skating… I mean silky smooth. The offensive potential on Rathbone is astounding, and he is going to be one of the dark-horse prospects to watch in the coming seasons as he moves into Harvard in the NCAA. Jack Rathbone is not one of the Canucks top 10 prospects according to Sporting News, however, I would have him in my personal top 10. An incredible character with high-end offensive instincts and wheels to burn. Down below are his stats and a highlight video from one of his games at Dexter earlier this year.

(Rathbone’s regular season stats, starting in his age 15 season courtesy of Eliteprospects.com)

(Rathbone highlight video courtesy of the YouTube channel “Canucks Prospects” (This dude is legit a godsend))

 

Other than his size, there is SO much to like about Rathbone’s game. Looking at his regular season counting numbers, Rathbone’s offensive production spiked from 2014-15 to 2015-16 and he just hasn’t looked back. Now, pumping the breaks a little bit we do see he wasn’t in the USHL for a long period of time, it’s still impressive to see a defenseman score over a PPG at any level. In the game shown above, Rathbone is a one man wrecking crew. Flying all over the ice to set up chances and find open looks. Also, Rathbone has a howitzer of a shot and isn’t afraid to use it, blasting bomb after bomb on the numerous power-play opportunities Dexter received. Rathbone was a commanding force this year with Dexter and knew when to properly use his speed to create controlled zone entries for his squad and when to pass it down or flip it for the dump. Spending as much time talking about Rathbone, why isn’t he higher on the depth chart? Well that’s partly due to the fact the Canucks have two other legit left side defenseman in the prospect pipeline awaiting an opportunity, and one of those is also a dynamic yet undersized defenseman (you know who).

 

As we move towards the 2022-2023 roster, Rathbone isn’t someone fans are likely to see in a Canucks jersey until late 2021-2022 or the beginning of 2022-2023. Rathbone is still just 19 years old and has 4 years to decide whether or not he signs with the Canucks or rides out his time at Harvard and becomes a UFA. I don’t see Rathbone not signing with Vancouver due to his close ties with Director of Amateur Scouting Judd Bracket, so let’s move to his course of development. For me, this one is pretty easy. There is no shame in having Rathbone stew in the NCAA, honing his craft against older players. Let Rathbone get used to using his speed and offensive instincts in a tougher setting, and by year 3 the hope is that he’ll be a truly dynamic offensive defenseman capable of running a power-play unit. Rathbone will finish up his 4th season with Harvard, sign with the Canucks and play some games to end 2021-2022, then be up full time with the Canucks for the 2022-2023 season. Having Rathbone on the 3rd pair would be an excellent way to help him get acclimated to the NHL in his 1st full year.


What separates this pair from the wildcard pair? Well, we’ll start with me stating I think it’s more likely that BOTH Chatfield and Rathbone hit the ceilings I envision by the start of 2022-2023. I also believe that Rathbone and Chatfield are better at their respective roles than Brassard and Utunen. Chatfield will provide a little more bite than Utunen will, and Rathbone has a better offensive skill set than Brassard. This 3rd pair wouldn’t be a 12 minute pair either, as I expect both Chatfield and Rathbone to be employed with the power-play (Rathbone) and the penalty kill (Chatfield). With Chatfield’s strong defensive instincts, and Rathbone’s wheels and passing. This pair could be a hidden gem of a Canucks team looking to contend.

  • El Kabong

    2022-23 seems so far away. Love the group of Youngsters we are assembling. We should be able to add 3-5 more players in the next two drafts and love the idea of having something in the pipeline even once this team gets going.

    • There’s no doubt in my mind they will, with Benning’s draft record improving rapidly. What we have in the pipeline ALREADY is a pretty solid team (hopefully). Yea 2022-2023 is far away, but hey maybe they’ll surprise earlier. Fans can only hope.

  • argoleas

    Good stuff. I like not just the conversation about the 22-23 roster, but how it will get there. Chatfield’s progression will be interesting to watch as he could be the person that will allow the team to move on from Tanev, and if he shows well next season like he is ready to make that jump, that could happen quicker.

    One trap that Canucks could fall into (and they have many times before) is getting that false sense of security that they are closer than they actually are, thus a retention of a Tanev is indispensable, and therefore not continuing with a proper roster turnover to the youth.

    The trouble with keeping Tanev (assuming he wants to stay) is that his next contract would have long term, possibly 6 years, would expire when he’s 36. That’s a lot of term, and likely money when their cap will become an issue. How Benning will navigate this will be telling.

    • You bring up a good point. If Chatfield is able to hit however, that should make letting Tanev go or trading him all the easier. This is a best case scenario situation, but Chatfield would essentially be the same type of player (albeit maybe not at the quality of Tanev YET). As far as a rebuild is concerned, I believe Chatfield > Tanev would be the best course of action.

  • Fortitude00

    Chatfield is an AHLer and so far down the depth chart he will not see the ice unless they trade 3 or 4 D. Chances are his contract runs out and he signs with another team

    • Ser Jaime Lannister

      The RHD depth is terrible on this team. Tanev/Guddy/Stecher… If we lose Tanev to a trade who steps in? Beiga…no thanks. Looks like Chatfield is next in line and hopefully will get a call up at some point during this season. Jett Woo is still years away from playing in the NHL.

      • argoleas

        Chatfield has another 2 years on his deal, when he becomes an RFA. More importantly, he is also waiver-exempt for those 2 seasons. Plenty of time for him to show he is worthy of a permanent promotion.

        Also, Seattle expansion is 2 years from now, and that too will weight heavily on what happens w/ Tanev.

        And there’s Guddy, who will likely not stay beyond his contract. So Stecher, Tanev->Chatfield, Guddy->Woo. Good turnover, just using exciting prospects, and IMO entirely realistic.

      • Fortitude00

        I agree the depth on RS is not very good. It will be Pouliot or Juolevi playing on their off side. We also have Try when they bring him back who plays both sides. Biega is a good fill in as he doesn’t cost the team. Team needs to draft more RHS I have been saying this for 3 years now. Playing in front of an elite All star goalie Chatfield was below average.

  • apr

    It would not surprise me at all if Chatfield became a top pairing D, like Methot to Karlssson, Vlasic to Burns, Stralman to Hedman…..I think there is way too much emphasis on D being able to score, and fancy stats can’t capture the quality of opponents that good D-men face on a nightly basis. No D will have nice fancy stats if facing McJesus every night….

    • argoleas

      There is a chance, and an opportunity, for Chatfield to audition to be Hughes’ D partner. He could be that great complementary piece for the Road Runner (Skator Incredibilis).

  • Burnabybob

    I agree. The Canucks may already have the makings of a contender. And their prospect pool will be even more impressive after they add another (probably high) first round pick in June.

  • Defenceman Factory

    This is a great series and a good read. I understand the premise is based on players currently in the system. That said if we are waiting on Chatfield to become a regular NHLer Benning hasn’t done it right. He has got to figure out how to get a Cal Foote or Noah Dobson type RHD into the system within the next year. Chatfied could turn out fine but with a top 6 including Chatfield, Rathbone, Stecher and Hughes that is a very small group.

    • argoleas

      Absolutely. The work of acquiring prospects is never done for a GM. I was hoping that Benning would pry away one of those Islander picks and use it to get Dobson. I would guess I was not the only one.

      We will see who they take in 2019 with what will hopefully be more than 1 first round pick.

      • Puck Viking

        They will draft a center more than likely, we dont need wingers at this stage and they are easier to come by. They are 2 LHD that should go in the top 10 but we have Hughes and Joulevi but no RHD in the top 10 which is our greatest need. Too much risk with Petterson at Center so draft a center and figure out who gets bumped to the wing later.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Agree it’s most likely they draft a centre as that’s what there is most of in the 2019 draft in range they will be picking. A definite need and the Canucks should get a good one.

        I hope Benning is working to put a trade together targeting a strong RHD prospect or another 1st rd pick.

        I watched Foote a lot in junior. Not flashy, he is a bit more like a Tanev than a Karlsson. Dobson probably has a higher ceiling and seems a better skater but Foote is big, smart and eats big minutes. He definitely has the higher floor.

  • speering major

    Yeah these are good articles. That was the first I’ve seen of Rathbone. Absolutely fantastic skater. It will definitely be interesting to see how he does in college. If his skating looks that good at the next level, we could have something special.

    I’m still hopeful Tryamkin pans out

    Hughes – UFA or trade aquisition
    Juolevi- Stetcher
    Rathbone – Tryamkin

  • Fred-65

    The two players you’ve selected are both curios in as much as they certainly have some thing a little different from the usual. Charfield it should be remembered was raved about in last pre season, and then he sort of faded initially in Utica but seemed to make a come back towards the end of the season ie he has shown above average skill at some point. I suppose it could be that they had him working exclusively on certain aspects of his game yo begin with. The other kid strikes me as character and intelligent, which IMO is a good side. He turned down as we all know the opportunity to rush off the Harvard in favour of hanging with his brother. It was a big choice handled well by the youngman. I tend to think both of these youngster have shown skill and maturity to be taken really serious in the future

  • Joecarp12

    Absolutely love these and am looking forward to the rest of them. Keep up the great work Cole! It is nice to have a positive outlook and see the potential of a bright future. If the team adds in realistically another 1-3 top ten picks, we can see an outcome that this team can turn a corner.

  • Dahlenfan

    Good article. Don’t know a whole lot about these 2 players. Seem like long shots but if u can get a junior free agent or a 4th rounder to become reliable consistent regular contributors then great job by Benning. They seem to really know their prospects and amateur players. Let’s hope we have a bright future. We nee more rd though. Cant expect these guys to be beating the odds on a consistent basis. Many 1st and 2nd rounders don’t pan out either

  • Great job Cole. You seem very optimistic about the Canucks and a positive writer about their future. I really enjoy reading your articles.

    Cole you do not have to respond to this part 😂😂

    I feel like Canucks Army may have turned a corner since JD Burke finally decided to leave CA. There are still other negative Nancy writers at Canucks Army, but I feel maybe Mr. Biech will influence them more positively than JD ever did. I hope this holds true in the future. Cole seems to be a good writer to me. Hopefully more like him will be hired in the future.