Photo Credit: Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

WWYDW: Young Stars

The hockey season is nearly upon us, signaled as always by the approaching Young Stars Classic which begins this Friday at the Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. The event is sure to be appointment viewing for any fan who has been jonesing for Canucks hockey this summer.

The Young Stars Classic has lost a bit of its shine this year, with both the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers dropping out; but will sport the best crop of Canucks prospects since the event’s inception in 2010. Elias Pettersson will be the main attraction, but there will be plenty of additional talent attending as well. Outside of Elias Pettersson, which player(s) are you most excited to see in action at Young Stars 2018?

Last week I asked: What games will you be circling on your calendar this year and why? 

Killer Marmot:

Not one game, but a series. From October 9 to 24 the Canucks will play in succession Tampa Bay, Florida, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Boston, Washington, and Las Vegas, all of them playoff teams last year. Washington apparently did quite well.

Someone in NHL scheduling hates the Canucks.


I moved to Northern BC last year so I won’t be taking in any games in person this year, for the first time in awhile. I’ll watch the CBC hockey night in Canada games as they stream free, but I cut cable awhile back and am not paying extra to watch this terrible team night-in and night-out. From 2007 to 2015 I never missed a game, but I have better things to do with my time than watch bad hockey.

I’ll catch Boeser and Pettersson doing exciting things on the NHL.com highlights, watch the free games, and save myself the headache.

Forever 1915:

Vancouver vs. Toronto. But not just this year, over the next few years. Since Toronto is rebuilding “the right way” (i.e. lottery luck, signing elite hometown UFA’s that had Leafs blankets as a baby) while Vancouver is retooling on the fly “the wrong way” (i.e. exceptional drafting despite losing every draft lottery, terrible UFA signings and trades), I want to see how the two teams evolve and their core players hit their primes.


Utica Comet games and the last 20 games of the Canucks season. That will give us early insight on what we have assembled to date.

Defenceman Factory:

This year is going to be very interesting to watch. It is a huge test for coach Green. He has a lot of options and I can’t wait to see how he responds. Will he go full Willy, take no risks and play only veterans or will he push the young guys into the line-up and force Benning to move out some vets? Can Boeser score 40? Where does Pettersson play? Does Sutter actually get more of an offensive role? Does he earn staying there?

The first 20 games are going to be fascinating. If it’s a disaster what will Aquilini do? What will happen at the trade deadline? How many rookies will get a call up?

I don’t share the complete doom and gloom of some although I don’t expect to challenge for a playoff spot either. There is no shortage of interesting story lines to follow and new players to evaluate I just couldn’t pick which games would be the best to watch. I’ll watch every game I can.

  • Sandpaper

    I am hoping Kole Lind has a great tournament.
    Like 1915 says, all prospects will be interesting too keep an eye on, hope we get 4 or 5 of them to be nhl calibre players at some point.

    • Even though not every draft pick will be an elite player like Pettersson, Hughes, or Boeser, it would be great to see Benning develop homegrown depth. Rather than trying to sign a Bartkowski or Megna during UFA season and hope that they can fit in, with a Jasek or Chatfield, we’d have a much better understanding of how they will perform after several years in the farm system.

  • Killer Marmot

    Juolevi, for two reasons. First, of all these players except perhaps Pettersson, he could have the greatest impact on the Canucks future. Second, he’s recovering from back surgery, and it will be interesting to see how well he’s recovered.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Excited to see Pettersson live for the first time and the rest of the top end of the prospect pool.

    What will be really interesting is how the lower profile prospects perform. Could you imagine how quickly the Canucks transform if Jasek, MacEwan, Palmu and Gadjovich are NHL ready in a year or two. The Canucks have a great line-up for the young stars and considering there are 5 more decent prospects in the NCAA this really is a deep prospect pool.

  • Captain Video

    Juolevi. The key to any rebuild is not to select busts with top ten picks. Now that Olli’s beginning the third season after his draft year, it’s time for him to step up and shine. While his surgery may land him in the AHL to start the season, he absolutely needs to crack the NHL roster by the trade deadline. If Benning has whiffed on both the Virtanen and Juolevi picks, then the rebuild has been set back at least two years and ownership needs to look for a new GM.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      So many Benning ass kissers on here…..I liked your post. Mind you I feel Benning should have been gone 2 years ago….To all those cheery life is wonderful in Canuckland, enjoy watching Pettersson playing on a line with 2 black holes of offence and not one other young player make this veteran laden team of middling below average mediocrity.

  • Dahlenfan

    I am truly hoping that juolevi, gaudette, and dahlen make an impact not only in the young stars and training camp that everybody will be in an outrage when theyget sent down to the minors or the less likely option that Benningactually keeps to his word and keeps them and gets rid of the extra baggage like mdz and gagner

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Benning keeping his word…..don’t hold your breath. He phrased his response to that question in a way that will allow him to send down anybody (ANYBODY) and everybody as he will no doubt have an unreachable bar set for these young kids simply due to his having already signed 904 players to one way contracts. Also, Willie D 2.0 has already shown the fans that no matter how bad and for how long vets play terribly, they will never be sat in the press box. Grim season coming up for fans of the kids….

  • Missing Burr

    I just cannot get enthused about any of these kids, there are way too many ifs, buts and maybes.

    I really miss AV and the 2011 roster.
    I really miss Pat Quinn and the 94 roster – there is just no one in this current crop fit too tie those guys skate laces. Truth.

    • Killer Marmot

      there are way too many ifs, buts and maybes

      Since when have prospects come with guarantees attached? People even doubted that Gretzky could handle the NHL when he came over from the WHA.

      • Missing Burr

        Going back to the stoneage has no relevance to todays NHL fella, so get your head in the 2018 game or beat it.

        There are plenty of prospects who are already legit NHL studs – Sergachev, McAvoy, Larkin, Nylander, Ehlers and Tkachuk for example are all tearing it up exciting fans around the league. I believe any of them were available to the Canucks at the draft. How do you like them apples guy…

        • Killer Marmot

          so get your head in the 2018 game or beat it.

          Sorry, don’t take orders well. My boss has talked to me about it.

          There are plenty of prospects who are already legit NHL studs

          So your REAL complaint is that Benning has not always drafted the best player available. You should just say that instead of fretting about uncertainty.

          But I have news for you. The vast majority of picks in any NHL draft are not the best players available at that time. There is not an experienced manager in the league who has not passed up on some superb players in favour of poorer picks.

        • “How do you like them apples guy…”

          So what? We have Pettersson, Hughes, Demko, Boeser, Horvat, Juolevi, Dahlen, Gaudette, Woo, Virtanen, Goldobin, Leipsic, Lind, Gadjovich, Jasek, Palmu, DiPietro, plus more good prospects to come. While you’re salivating over other people’s apples, fans with patience and vision are just getting into the feast that’s coming up.

        • crofton

          Missing Burr, you’re the one that did the trip down memory lane. 94? And you’re on about the Stone Age? 94 has no relevance to to Juolevi, Gaudette and Dahlen comment ffs.

  • I look forward to seeing all our young players. The future is now.

    Young Stars needs more NHL teams to participate. Both Alberta teams pulled out and I thought they would replace young Stars with their own copy cat version, but that’s not the case. Oilers prospects only play against NAIT, the game against UVA got cancelled due to a “falling out”, and nothing else. It’s probably due to their weak prospect pool.
    Flames pulled out, not sure why. Probably something to do with boycotting BC products.
    San Jose used to be in it. I believe California teams are doing their own thing.

    So, management needs to start working the phone and recruit more teams. Both Alberta teams should be in it. Vegas, and Arizona should be in it. Seattle down the road. Maybe all Canadian teams should be in it. Call it Young Stars Canada and each participating city gets a chance to host the event. I think fans would support this version and money could be made. It’s a business after all.

    • surreal78

      All for this. Making it Canada-wide or fully-west coast are great ideas. Not sure how the league would do with it — they do like to interfere — but it’s a really compelling event, as a fan, and rotating it through each host city every year would make plenty of sense.

  • Rodeobill

    Expectations are high for EP, I hope he can live up to them. Maybe Gaudette leveled up over the summer too? With all the rest, I look forward to the one or two prospects that went hard over the summer to up their game and jump some spots on the depth chart of our prospect pool. Maybe Lind or Palmu or Gadjovich come in and make us think, How can we not have that guy on our team? I remember last year Archibald was the last one cut in preseason. I am curious to see who makes it that far.

  • canuckfan

    It is nice to be optimistic about the young prospects joining the system. They will need to make the team on their own through hard work. Not trying to showoff just hard work in every aspect of their game. Once they make the team and get some confidence that is when they can do the show boat stuff.
    I would love to see an all rookie line last time that happened in Vancouver was Smyle, Fraser and Gradin they sure were fun to watch and would get the crowd out of their seats. Gaudette, Pettersson, and Dahlen could really be fun to watch. With their drive they could all just build off each other. With a defense of Joilevi and Woo feeding them pucks. Who will be the coach at the young stars will it be the Canucks coaching staff?

  • Doodly Doot

    I’m very excited to see Pettersson and Gaudette for obvious reasons, but Jonathan Dahlen is the one I’m most intrigued by actually. This trade for a past-his-prime Burrows could go down as the Canucks best piece of trade thievery second only to the Naslund trade. I see Dahlen as a Filip Forsberg type player who can be very productive AND consistent during the regular season while quietly and naturally stepping it up a notch in the playoffs. Saying all this, I do kind of hope that he spends most of this year in Utica if for no other reason than to get a ton of top line minutes and fine-tune the transition of his game to the North American style. I have no doubt that he will blow people away in at least one of his call-up games.

    One more note about Pettersson. It seems obvious to me that he is going to be the best player on the Canucks for years and years to come. Not necessarily this year, but very possibly the next. And the next and so on. I’m wondering if management is gun-shy about giving Bo the C because they suspect what no one else seems to be talking about yet: Pettersson IS the future Canucks captain.

    • Defenceman Factory

      sure hope you are right about Dahlen. If so this becomes a very strong top 6 forward group.

      Not sure about your captain theory. If there is to be a new captain the announcement will likely be timed for publicity reasons and not over the summer. Just say it was going to be Horvat you don’t want to make the announcement while he is back in Ontario or the coach or GM are on holidays. If there is going to be a new captain the announcement likely comes when training camp breaks.

      • Tedchinook

        Plus nobody knows if Pettersson is a leader. Lots of great players aren’t and the pressure of being a captain could be a huge negative if he’s a low key guy..

    • Giant-Nation

      Pettersson to be a young Captain gas to be legit superstar to get respect through the room. It’s a tough league guys have paid their dues, seeing a young guy as Captain is tough unless he can deliver night after night. I think Horvat is trending in right direction but will be suplanted by EP as top centre by next year IMO.

      Gaudette is a beast – the guy is so ripped Benjamin Button (stolen) is doubting his off season again. Everyone saying no space but this kid knocks Goldy or Lieper into waivers.


      • Doodly Doot

        100% right that Gaudette is a beast. He will be a huge part of the core. I don’t think he will make the team, but it’s plausible he should. My fantasy scenario is that Sutter get’s traded at the deadline for picks and Gaudette, after playing the first half of the season in Utica, slides in at #3 behind Horvat and Pettersson.

  • HockeyMinion

    I’ve been watching our beloved team for like 40 years and this is IMO the deepest forward prospect pool that they have had in my time. I will be watching Darlene and Pettersson close this weekend but am also intrigued by Juolevi and Gadjovich.

    • Kevlar73

      Brisebois looked good in the first game let’s see how he does on Sunday. If he can tune up his offence a bit he might make a good 6/7 defenceman next year