This past Monday, TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported that the Canucks submitted a list of 10 skaters and a goalie to be part of their black aces for a playoff run.
#Canucks meanwhile submitted a list of 10 skaters & a goalie to #NHL as potential black aces yesterday: DiPietro, D: Brisebois, Chatfield, Juolevi, Raferty, Sautner. F: Bailey, Boucher, Graovac, Lind, BAERTSCHI. All with NHL contracts. No final word from league on roster size yet
— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) June 8, 2020
There are a few names that are no brainers and a few that may surprise fans.
Guillaume Brisebois, Jalen Chatfield, Ashton Sautner and Brogan Rafferty are the top four defenceman that I would have gone with. Olli Juolevi has battled a few minor injuries throughout the season. Though he may have the highest ceiling out of the group, he has still not played in an NHL game.
The experience for Juolevi could be an asset for his development but if injuries were to occur on the left side, it should be Rafferty or Sautner who are called upon. Rafferty played the left side in college and is the most NHL ready of the group. Sautner is the next man up after Rafferty and could be relied upon if injuries were to work the Canucks down to their 8th, 9th or 10th defencemen.
If an injury were to occur to Tyler Myers in the playoffs I would love to see Rafferty hop right into that role and play on the second powerplay unit over Alex Edler. This likely wouldn’t happen as coach Travis Green would definitely go with Edler but Rafferty has a lot of upside on the powerplay and could help if needed.
The forward group is led by Justin “triple-triple” Bailey, Reid Boucher, Tyler Graovac and Sven Baertschi.
All four of these players have NHL experience and each has skills that could be useful if and when injuries occur.
Out of the four, Bailey left a big impact in his short two game stint with the big club. Graovac has two goals in eight games and even saw time on the Canucks’ second powerplay unit earlier in the season. Reid Boucher won MVP for what seems like the 18th consecutive season in Utica and has been an AHL all-star since he was 11-years-old. Boucher has improved his defensive game a lot this season and could add some depth scoring if the Canucks lose wingers in their bottom six.
Sven Baertschi also played in six games for the Canucks this season.
That doesn’t seem correct, but somehow it’s true.
The Canucks were 1-4-1 with Baertschi in the lineup and have him under contract for next season. He is the most talented of the forward group and should be the first winger they activate if injuries occur.
Baertschi played some excellent hockey with the Comets this season. There were a ton of questions about his concussion history at the beginning of the season. He was physical during the first half of the year but once other wingers were getting called up over him he appeared to have taken his foot off the gas a bit.
He is still an NHL player, he might not be back with this organization next season but he still has a chance to add to the winger depth if this team requires it on a long playoff run.
The Young Guns missing out on a Calder Cup run
The final two names are Kole Lind and Mikey DiPietro.
These two will not see time in the playoffs. They will, however, benefit from being able to gain experience around an NHL team in a playoff atmosphere.
The two players I wanted to see in the AHL playoffs the most were Lind and DiPietro. Both of these players took home team awards from the Comets this season and had big years as individuals.
The most improved player was Lind. He took a huge step this season and now will have his name in the conversation as the first winger to be called up next season. A playoff experience with the Comets would have been great for him but being a black ace for the Canucks is a solid consolation prize.
As for DiPietro, he improved a lot this season as well. He took over the starter role and is probably the best guy in the room. Having the 21-year-old goaltender around for the experience is a good step as it is too bad that some of these young players like DiPietro will miss out on a potential Calder Cup run in the AHL.
Which black ace do you think could make an impact if needed?