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Photo Credit: — UofM Athletics photo [PNG Merlin Archive]

Roster Down The Road: Wildcard Forwards

Canucks training camp has finished, the rain has come back to the lower mainland, and I’ve got all my hockey subscriptions in order. With training camp done and the pre-season underway, I can happily say hockey season is finally here. With that, the Roster Down The Road series keeps looking towards the future of the Vancouver Canucks, figuring out what the roster could look like in 2022-2023

I’ll quickly go over the guidelines for any new readers. This series only covers prospects or young players already in the team’s pipeline, with no added exceptions. Also, the main prospect ranking list that this series uses is from Sporting News.. The defense corps and goaltending situation has been revealed; today we start on a couple of forwards who will be playing 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 – Wildcard F 2


Quinn Hughes – Jett Woo
Olli Juolevi – Nikita Tryamkin
Jack Rathbone – Jalen Chatfield

Toni Utunen  – Matt Brassard

Thatcher Demko

Michael DiPietro

 

Wildcard Forwards

Wildcard Winger #1

Will Lockwood

(Photo Courtesy of U of M Athletics)

Starting off the 2nd half of the Roster Down The Road series, our first wildcard is Will Lockwood of the University of Michigan. The young winger was drafted in the 2016 NHL entry draft during the 3rd round with pick 64. A high energy, speedy winger has a game that could translate similarly to former Canuck Jannik Hansen. With a good shot to go along with a hardnose game, Lockwood has the ability to go up and down the Canucks lineup if he makes it. However, Lockwood has some hurdles to overcome if he wants to beat out a player on the roster. Lockwood isn’t featured on the Sporting News top 10 Canucks prospect list, but that doesn’t discredit the heart and speed he could bring to the lineup. Down below will contain his counting statistics and a highlight video showcasing what Lockwood is all about.

(Lockwood’s stats starting from his draft year via Elite Prospects)

Will Lockwood is a player that could be a driving force for the Wolverines this year alongside fellow Canuck prospect Quinn Hughes. His draft year he wasn’t able to stick in the USHL, but his progress at the University of Michigan has been steady until he sustained a shoulder injury that ended his season. Lockwood’s was nearly on pace for a point per game in his 2nd year of NCAA hockey and in the highlight packaged showcased an increased touch around the net while utilizing his blazing speed. He’s the perfect bottom 6 forward to have on a roster, and if it wasn’t for his shoulder injury he’d probably be included on mine.

For Lockwood’s development path, the biggest thing for him is the same thing I identified for Jett Woo. Lockwood needs to stay healthy in order to try and push out some of the other players that are blocking his path to the bigs. If he has a year in the NCAA where he puts up a point per game, and signs a deal with Vancouver at the end of the year and gets some games in, it’ll completely change the course of how this roster looks. He has to show the shoulder is healthy and raring to go. Lockwood has the potential to become almost like fellow prospect Adam Gaudette, in the sense that a college player takes a few extra years to develop into a B – B+ rated prospect. Lockwood getting into some games this year at the end of his season in Michigan if all goes well is the best case scenario. Follow that year with a half season in Utica in 2019-2020 before breaking with the Canucks for the latter half of the year. By then, Lockwood would become a staple on the bottom 6 and the penalty kill, with the ability to play higher in the lineup in the case that injury strikes.

Wildcard Winger #2

Artyom Manukyan

(Photo courtesy of Mhl.khl.ru)

 

Jim Benning loves his late round picks, and a lot of them have been pretty good. This 2018 Draft Class for the Canucks is no different, and just like how Benning drafted a smaller forward in the 2017 Entry Draft, Benning went for a highly skilled yet diminutive Russian forward in Artyom Manukyan this year. Manukyan is an incredibly skilled forward and has the record for MHL scoring. The biggest knock will be Manukyan’s size, but at 5’7 and 170 lbs he isn’t thin by any stretch. If Manukyan proves he can handle himself with the big boys in the KHL, then Benning may have hit another home run in the 6th round. Stats and a highlight video are down below.

(All Manukyan stats recorded via Elite Prospects)

(4 goal game highlight video from October 2017, courtesy of the channel “Canucks Prospects”)

 

Going to start with the stats for Manukyan, cause they go all over the place. As a 17-year-old in the Russian Junior Hockey League (MHL) (2015-16), he struggled to consistently put up a point per game pace. After an offseason of training, he blew the doors of the MHL as an 18-year-old. Setting the record with 105 points, becoming the 1st player to do so in MHL history. Now, the MHL isn’t as well known as other junior leagues but that’s still a mighty fine accomplishment. The next year, Manukyan got into some Kontinental Hockey League games but was unable to really make a dent in the box score. Watching Manukyan’s showing from October of last season though, he’s got a wicked shot, a great release and the ability to pick any corner he pleases will be a tremendous asset to his game. If he wants to take the next step, he’s going to have to prove he can play with the big boys.

 

Manukyan’s development for this season has already started. With Artyom picking up 4 points in 6 KHL games. Early returns are showing that he’s adjusting to the speed and pace of professional hockey, and keeping up with Ryan Biech’s prospect reports will certainly be among one of my priorities throughout the year. If Manukyan has a year in which he posts a .5 point per game or higher in the KHL this year. I’d be looking to bringing him over to Utica for 2019-2020, letting him develop on the smaller ice surface for a full season and a half before bringing him up to the Canucks for the 2nd half of the 2020-2021 season.


For both of these forwards to make the NHL over other guys in front of them, they’re going to need to overcome some question marks. Manukyan will have to overcome his size, which isn’t impossible by any means, while Lockwood has to show his shoulder has fully recovered and he can keep playing his high energy brand of hockey. Both of these players are skilled enough to make this Canuck roster, and both have the potential to be truly unique pieces for the club. Both of these forwards are true wildcards in my eyes, and the fact the Canucks have pieces like this on the outskirts of the roster gives me hope for the future.

 

  • Yodadog

    Very good series and excellent article. I’m curious why you relied on the Sporting News prospect list when the Canucks Army has its own, frankly better, list?

    • Trash

      Unfortunately the CA list isn’t up to date, it was last done as a “Mid-Term” ranking, but that only came out in the summer. Nothing new came out over the summer, which was when CA usually does their re-ranking. I think the use of the Sporting News list is just because it is recent. Hoping we get back on the CA prospect cycle soon, as it was what first drew me to the blog, and continued to be high quality over the years.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Really have trouble seeing Manukyan get to this level particularly under this management regime. I don’t see them ever considering putting a very small offensive winger in the bottom 6. Lockwood and the Russian kid are both right hand shots but Lockwood rates more likely because of a physical style and good all round game. He can kill penalties and play tougher defensive assignments. For Manukyan to play it needs to be as a top 6 replacement. He would have to pass a lot of people on the depth chart to be the best top 6 call up. On the right side that’s Boeser, Jasek Lind, MacEwan and Lockwood. If you don’t consider handedness the list is a lot longer.

    • You’re correct in one sense, that there’s no way that Manukyan will ever play as a bottom 6 winger. Reason he’s such a wildcard is that if he’s skilled enough, he probably wins a spot up in the top 6.