Although the Vancouver Canucks have not had a lot of news lately, their prospects currently playing overseas have a few busy weeks coming their way.
Let’s look at some of the recent stories of the Canucks’ top prospects.
As I reported last Thursday, Nils Höglander’s team in the SHL has had a COVID-19 outbreak. Höglander is safe and healthy while his team is still postponing SHL games. His SHL team also just announced on Thursday that they will be making pay cuts to players and staff as the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for the business to make a profit.
The pay cuts are voluntary according to a recent article on Rögle BK’s website. With this much uncertainty with the SHL and the problems that his team is currently having with the virus, it would not surprise me for Höglander to stay in North America once he arrives in mid-December.
Höglander and his camp have expressed growing interest in staying in North America and he is more open to an AHL stint than he was at the time of signing his entry level deal with the Canucks. I reached out to the camp to see if there was anything that they could do to combat the 14-day quarantine that is required for those entering British Columbia from another country. I did not hear back about any plan for Höglander.
The problem is that his loan expires on December 13th. On that day he is free to come to North America and participate in the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp. However, with the 14 day mandatory quarantine, Höglander won’t be able to start skating with the Canucks until December 27th. If the NHL is still hoping to begin their season on January 1st, that means Höglander will not get a lot of time to showcase his skill to the Canucks coaching staff.
We will see what happens with his team over the next few weeks as Höglander only has a few games left on his loan with Rögle BK.
With his Swedish season being cancelled, Viktor Persson is already looking towards the beginning of the WHL season. He is set to join the Kamloops Blazers in early January to begin skating with the team. He will have to adhere to the same 14-day quarantine rule that Höglander will.
The only difference is that Persson can potentially come in December to quarantine for the World Junior Championships. The WJCs are held in Edmonton this year and if he were to be driven over to Kamloops from Edmonton it would make it an easy transition to competing with the Blazer team during their training camp. (For the record, it’s about a seven and a half-hour drive if the roads are okay.)
The WHL is set to begin their season on January 8th but with rising Covid cases in BC, it is definitely in jeopardy of being delayed. This should give Persson plenty of time to get used to the organization. He told me that he is in constant communication with the Blazers’ general manager and head coach. Persson should be a great addition to a powerhouse team in Kamloops this season.
When I spoke to Persson just over a week ago, he mentioned that the Swedish U20 team will know their decision by December 3rd. With rosters for other countries being announced over the past week, Sweden should follow suit and announce their roster any day.
The young rising star of the Canucks’ prospect pool is currently nursing an injury that should keep him out of action for the next two weeks.
This injury came at a horrible time as I learned that he was supposed to make his KHL debut for Dynamo Moscow earlier this week. The injury is nothing too serious but Zlodeyev wouldn’t get into details about the injury and just said that the doctors are working very hard to get him back as soon as possible
If Zlodeyev makes his KHL debut soon it could be a great confidence boost for the 18-year-old two way centre. Dynamo M is a team that will play their young players unlike some other KHL teams and Zlodeyev has done enough at the MHL and VHL levels to earn a shot with the big team.
The Canucks’ number one prospect Vasili Podkolzin has been riding high over the past couple of weeks in Russia. Or at least he was, until Thursday when he was scratched from the lineup in a KHL game. It truly is a mystery over there with his organization SKA. Podkolzin could be injured, sick, healthy or even getting sent back down to the Russian minor-league the VHL.
For now, all we know is that Podkolzin is scheduled to play for Russia in this coming World Junior Championship and he should be one of, if not the best player in that U20 tournament.
Podkolzin is back in action this Saturday at 3:30 AM pacific time. There are seven remaining games for SKA before they take a nine-day break. Podkolzin could be leaving for Edmonton even before the break that begins on December 11th.
We will continue to update you on the Canucks prospects as more World Junior news comes out. Arvid Costmar and Vasili Podkolzin will each be representing their countries. There’s an outside shot that Joni Jurmo and Viktor Persson will also be representing their countries at this year’s WJC. We will have breakdowns of how each player fits with their team after the final rosters are announced.