The dog days of summer are fast approaching as the hockey world settles into their summer vacations.
There won’t be much news from now until early September but we can look ahead to figure out what to expect this fall for the organization.
This week, we’ll take a look at where all the Canucks prospects will be playing and what kind of role we should expect for them next season.
Let’s start with the prospects that will be in the Canadian Hockey League.
Because of the NHL/CHL agreement, those are only two places that Jett Woo can play next season. Given the additions to the backend through free agency, it’s fair to assume that the 2018 2nd round pick will be making his way back to the WHL.
After playing the entirety of his junior career with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Woo will be playing for the Calgary Hitmen next season after being traded there in a blockbuster WHL draft day deal.
The Warriors are losing Josh Brook, Tristan Langan and Justin Almeida to professional hockey so they turned their most valued asset in Woo into pieces for the future.
For the Canucks prospect, it’s a good move for him as the Hitmen are looking to take a step forward after reaching the second round of the WHL playoffs last year.
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Yegor Zamula and Woo will be the workhorses for Calgary on the back-end and could ultimately play together as their top pair. Both should see huge minutes on the powerplay and penalty kill.
Woo will almost certainly be in the conversation as a part of the Team Canada World Juniors roster. He was invited to the Summer Showcase camp in a couple of weeks but is recovering from an injury suffered near the end of last year. If he is unable to play this summer, it shouldn’t hold him back from being an invite to the evaluation camp in December.
Woo probably won’t surpass his 66 points from last season but should be within the same range on a point-per-game pace.
Carson Focht was taken with the 133rd overall pick this past June after taking a big step forward in his draft plus one season.
Focht had started his junior career with the Tri-City Americans but was moved to Calgary in the middle of the 2017-18 season. He played well for the Hitmen that year but it took some time for him to get comfortable. This past year, he looked comfortable putting up 26 goals and 38 assists in a top-six role. He followed that up with 9 points (5-4-9) in 11 WHL playoff games.
Mark Kastelic was the other top-six centre for the Hitmen last season and was selected by the Senators in the 5th round this June. But he is 20 years old and has played four full WHL seasons, so he could turn pro this season and thus leaving Focht with a chance for that top-line centre spot.
Either way, Focht will get a chance to take another step forward this upcoming season. With the addition of Woo, it’s clear that they are hoping to push for the WHL title and both Canucks prospects will be a huge part of their team.
Focht’s play this season also earned him an invite to Team Canada’s Summer Showcase camp this summer. He will be in a battle to secure a bottom-six role with that team with his work ethic, versatility, skating and two-way play being the skills that could help him land that opportunity.
The Latvian goalie taken in the 6th round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is expected to make the move to the OHL this upcoming season.
After being selected by the Canucks, there were reports that he would indeed make the move and it was just a matter of where. A few days later, the Barrie Colts selected him with the 11th overall selection in the CHL import draft.
The Colts had moved Kai Edmonds to the Mississauga Steelheads on June 24th and then used the high import draft selection on Silovs. So although he hasn’t officially committed, it’s fair to believe that it will happen and he will play next season for the Colts.
Silovs will be in a battle with Jet Greaves for starts through the season.
Latvia is not part of the Top Division of the World Juniors after failing to win Division I last season thus remain in Division I again this year. They will play in Group A tournament in Minsk, Belarus from December 8-14th against Demark, Belarus, Norway, Austria, and Slovenia.
Silovs should have a good chance to be the starting netminder for Latvia for that event – so I would expect him to leave the Colts for the needed time.
Taken in the 4th round of this past draft, Ethan Keppen will be heading back to the Flint Firebirds in the OHL.
The Firebirds were not good last season with a record of 16-46-6 and having a -138 goal differential. Basically, if their top line wasn’t on the ice, which included Keppen, they were getting buried. Keppen should have his centre back in Ty Dellandrea but otherwise, it’s up in the air.
The Firebirds should be better next season and Keppen will continue to be on their top line. He will need to round out his game to continue to trend upwards.
Keppen isn’t expected to be in the conversation for the World Juniors this season but he is eligible for the 2021 event as well, so there is a chance he could work his way towards that.