Good morning and welcome back to hockey season! The Vancouver Canucks are just a day away from opening their 2018-19 season, and the Utica Comets are three days away from doing the same. Elsewhere, plenty of other leagues are already well underway, particularly the European leagues, which always have a good headstart on their North American counterparts.
I have decided to bring back the What’s On Tap feature this season for a couple of reasons. First, I get a chance to make this beautiful chart, and I love beautiful charts. Second, people love to know when the prospects are in action. There maybe less prospect teams to watch this year (we’ll get into that below), but there’s interest nonetheless.
Let’s take a look at this week’s calendar, but diving a little deeper afterwards.
- First things first, what’s immediately noticeable this year is that there are fewer prospects to include on this chart. Most of that has to do with two developments: players transfering into the American League, where they all show up in the Comets row, and players whose rights the Canucks have lost.
- The former camp includes the likes of Adam Gaudette (NCAA), Kole Lind (WHL), Jonah Gadjovich (OHL), Jonathan Dahlen (Allsvenskan), Petrus Palmu (Liiga), Olli Juolevi (Liiga), and Lukas Jasek (Czech Extraliga).
- The latter camp includes Brett McKenzie, Jakub Stukel, Cole Candella.
- As a result, the Canucks are down to just three CHL prospects this year (Michael DiPietro, Jett Woo, and Matthew Brassard), and five prospects in Europe, if you can even call them that. Two of those “prospects”, Nikita Tryamkin and Dmitry Zhukenov, are players who have already been to North America and returned to European leagues, leaving their rights with the Canucks but casting doubt on the likelihood of a return.
- The above points, while thinning out the amount of teams to keep an eye, will certainly make the Utica Comets a lot more interesting to watch this season. While there has been an influx of legitimate NHL prospects there over the past year and a bit, starting this season with Gaudette, Dahlen, Lind, Gadjovich, Juolevi, Palmu and Jasek in addition to Thatcher Demko, Zack MacEwen, Michael Carcone, Jalen Chatfield and Guillaume Brisebois. Comets games are going to be appointment viewing for Canucks fans this season, which coincides nicely with the massive price reduction that came with the league’s video streaming service switching from AHL Live to AHL TV.
- Your other opportunity to see two Canucks prospects at once any University of Michigan game this season, where both Quinn Hughes and Will Lockwood will be plying their trades. Hughes is of course the Canucks best non-NHL prospect, with Pettersson cracking the opening NHL roster, making him of great interest to Canucks fans. Lockwood is no slouch either, generally considered to be in the top ten of Vancouver’s rather deep prospect pool. Lockwood’s issue will be figuring out the right balance between the hard-nosed game he’s used to playing (which attracted the Canucks to him in the first place) and trying not to re-injure the shoulder that has kept him out of a significant amount of games in the last two seasons.
That’s all for this week. Until next week, happy prospecting!