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Photo Credit: Darrel Dyck/CP

The Top 15 Canucks Prospects Ranked By NHL Readiness

The hockey side of the internet is already rife with prospect rankings. For fans of the Vancouver Canucks—a franchise that has gathered a fairly impressive stable of young players over the past few seasons—these rankings have no doubt been a fun and rewarding read.

But for those fans who only follow the Canucks themselves, and don’t pay much attention to the developmental side of the organization, these prospect lists can often feel a bit irrelevant. After all, even in a strong prospect pool one can probably count on at least half the names on the list never making it to the big leagues.

With that in mind, I’ve eschewed the traditional system of ranking prospects—something I’m almost certainly unqualified to write about, anyway—in lieu of a list that ranks the Canucks’ top prospects by how close they are to actually seeing NHL action.

As such, these ranking s will be less focused on the overall quality of a prospect, or how good of an NHLer they project to be—instead, they’ll look at how soon a prospect might reasonably be expected to lace up for the Canucks. For those who aren’t an immediate threat to crack the lineup, we’ve also included an estimated date of arrival so that fans can set their hype-metres accordingly.

For the purpose of this ranking, Thatcher Demko, Adam Gaudette, Reid Boucher, and Nikita Tryamkin are not considered prospects.

 

1) Quinn Hughes, LHD

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 19 U. of Michigan/ NCAA 32 5 28 33

Though he may be papered down to Utica at the start of the season in a roster-shuffling manoeuvre, it’s quite likely that Hughes goes his entire career without playing a game in the AHL. He’s not just penciled in as a Vancouver Canuck next season, he’s penciled in as a blueline savior that can expect a boatload of minutes in all situations.

Estimated Arrival: 2019/20

 

2) Zack MacEwen, RW

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 23 Utica/AHL 69 22 30 52

MacEwen has acquitted himself well over the past two seasons, and he seems likely to force his way onto the NHL roster at some point in the near future—whether it be by outright winning a spot in training camp or by being the first forward callup from Utica. The Micheal Ferland signing may have delayed MacEwen’s arrival, but it won’t prevent it.

Estimated Arrival: 2019/20

 

3) Guillaume Brisebois, LHD

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 21 Utica/AHL 49 3 8 11

It’s a bit surprising that Brisebois is just 21 years old, given that it feels like he’s been on the periphery of the Canucks for years. Brisebois has already acquitted himself well in brief NHL cameos, and he’s in the running to nail down a pressbox spot in training camp—though few would expect him to ever progress beyond a bottom-pairing defenseman.

Estimated Arrival: 2019/20

 

4) Ashton Sautner, LHD

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 25 Utica/AHL 31 3 5 8

Sautner has been battling to establish himself as a full-time NHLer for a couple seasons, and at age 25 it’s now or never. Sautner will be in the thick of it with Brisebois, Alex Biega, and Oscar Fantenberg to compete for the last couple spots on the blueline in training camp, and he’ll almost certainly receive a call-up or two if he doesn’t make it—but if Sautner doesn’t make an impression this season he’ll probably be a minor league lifer.

Estimated Arrival: 2019/20

 

5) Francis Perron, LW

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 23 San Jose/ AHL 63 18 29 47

For a player who was traded for Erik Karlsson, Perron doesn’t get a lot of hype. The Sharks obviously didn’t have room for him in their development pool, but Perron arrives in Vancouver a little further along his curve than most of the team’s other forward prospects—and is thus in line for an early-season call-up when injuries hit.

Estimated Arrival: 2019/20

 

6) Olli Juolevi, LHD

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 21 Utica/AHL 18 1 12 13

With his recovery from surgery and the Canucks’ influx of free agent defensemen, Juolevi is almost guaranteed to start the season with Utica—but the Canucks will be looking to call him back up at the earliest convenience. It’s a make-or-break year for Juolevi, and if it doesn’t end with him having spent significant time in the NHL it will have to be considered a disappointment.

Estimated Arrival: 2020/21

 

7) Nils Hoglander, LW

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 18 Rogle BK/ SHL 50 7 7 14

There are those who have whispered about Hoglander being NHL ready right here and now, and that’s certainly exciting—though not very likely to come to fruition. Still, Hoglander seems like the kind of prospect who is going to challenge for a spot each and every training camp he attends until he breaks through—probably sooner rather than later.

Estimated Arrival: 2020/21

 

8) Brogan Rafferty, RHD

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 24 Quinnipiac/ NCAA 38 4 20 24

Rafferty looked solid in a limited NHL cameo last season, but he’ll struggle to find consistent playing time on a loaded blueline in Utica. He may not see many or any callups in 2019/20, and he’ll need to continue to progress to earn them thereafter—though his right-handedness gives him a distinct advantage.

Estimated Arrival: 2020/21

 

9) Vasili Podkolzin, RW

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 18 St. Petersburg/ VHL 14 2 3 5

Podkolzin would likely slot in just behind Quinn Hughes on this list if we were purely discussing one’s readiness to perform in the NHL—but, alas, Podkolzin is signed for two additional seasons in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. As of right now, the expectation is for him to step directly onto the Canucks’ roster when his contract ends.

Estimated Arrival: 2021/22

 

10) Jett Woo, RHD

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 18 Moose Jaw/ WHL 62 12 54 66

Woo will likely get an extended look in training camp, but after that it’s back to the WHL, since he’s still too young to play in the AHL. The following season, Woo can probably be expected to spend the bulk of his rookie campaign in Utica—though it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if he challenged for an NHL spot immediately upon arrival.

Estimated Arrival: 2021/22

 

11) Tyler Madden, C

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 19 Northeastern/ NCAA 36 12 16 28

Madden flirted with turning pro this offseason, but opted to return for what most assume will be his final season in the NCAA. Look for Madden to receive a late audition with the Canucks in 2019/20, but expect him to get a season or two of AHL action thereafter before making the jump.

Estimated Arrival: 2021/22

 

12) Josh Teves, LHD

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 24 Princeton/ NCAA 30 3 17 20

Teves already looks like a longshot to crack the Canucks’ roster—heck, he might struggle to find a consistent spot in the lineup with Utica this season. It will take at least a couple years of steady progression for Teves to work his way into Vancouver’s long-term plans—and he’s not currently very high on the call-up list.

Estimated Arrival: 2021/22

 

13) Lukas Jasek, RW

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 21 Utica/AHL 63 9 20 29

Of all the wing prospects imported to Utica over the past few seasons, Jasek has surprisingly performed the best. He’ll need to take another step forward this season to earn a call-up in the near-future, but Jasek currently has a leg up on teammates like Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich.

Estimated Arrival: 2021/22

 

14) Will Lockwood, RW

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 21 U. of Michigan/ NCAA 36 16 15 31

The Canucks chose not to sign Lockwood this offseason and he’ll be returning to the University of Michigan—where he’ll need to stay healthy and take another offensive step forward to lock down an NHL contract. If he’s able to do so, his physical style should put him on the fast-track to time in the big leagues—though he’ll have to battle through a logjam of forwards to get there.

Estimated Arrival: 2022/23

 

15) Jonah Gadjovich, LW

  Age Team/League Games Goals Assists Points
2018/19 20 Utica/AHL 43 4 6 10

It came down to Gadjovich or Kole Lind for the final spot on this ranking, and Gadjovich’s grit and versatility ended up winning the day. Gadjovich has the sort of frame and skillset that would make him a fine fit on the fourth line—a utility that could put him in line for a call-up sooner than his more skilled contemporaries.

Estimated Arrival: 2022/23



  • rediiis

    I again see a bias against Juolevi, I think he is close and when he arrives it will be for years. Hoglander is a player that competes. I could see both of these players playing this year..

  • rediiis

    I again see a bias against Juolevi, I think he is close and when he arrives it will be for years. Hoglander is a player that competes. I could see both of these players playing this year..

    • Rich Dawson

      What is this bias with Juolevi….he has been hurt, he has played 56 games in 2 years, coming off injury now, what expectation should there be, if he can play decent minutes and make an impact in Utica, that is realistic….he will get every chance to play games in the NHL, there is no rush with the acquisitions this summer

  • bobdaley44

    Olli number 6 and Hughes playing in all situations? Sorry but I strongly disagree. Olli put up 13 points in 18 games in the A and you have him ranked behind Sautner and Brisebois? Hughes definitely won’t be killing penalties. CA needs to temper their enthusiasm on Hughes. Soaking wet he’s 175 lbs and from his debut last year you could see he couldn’t handle the bigger faster NHL forwards and they were having his way with him physically. He won’t be playing PK that’s for sure.

    • Tedchinook

      I think with basically missing last year it’s realistic that Olli is at 6. The ranking is NHL ready and he’s going to have to play some at he AHL level before he’s ready to jump in at the NHL level. He still has a higher ceiling than some of the guys ranked ahead of him but best case he’s ready by Christmas.

    • Nuck16

      I think this ranking is a bit misleading. I think it’s based primarily on current NHL readiness rather than a prediction of their eventual ceiling when they are in the NHL. I prefer the latter type of rankings, but hey, it’s not my article.

  • Nuck16

    Regarding Woo: They need to change that stupid Junior/AHL rule. Every player that is returned to Junior after being drafted, should be eligible for the AHL the following year.

  • Kanuckhotep

    I hope OJ watched the Stanley Cup playoffs this year. Winning teams and their players are more than just about having tool boxes of skills. Emotional involvement, desire and similar intangibles can be the difference between champs and chumps. Juolevi has the accoutrements to play in the league but the truly reliables(like BO) go the extra distance to improve themselves and the club. Hopefully Olli ups his intensity a bit because maybe he may prove he can crack it come September.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Capfriendly currently lists him an inch shorter and the same weight (176) as Pettersson. Anyone who thought Lind would be in the NHL by now didn’t watch him in junior enough.