41
Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: LIVE from day one of Vancouver Canucks training camp 2021

Another week, another mailbag. Only this time, we’re making a huge, live mailbag that will get updated throughout the day. Faber will have a full recap of day one of Vancouver Canucks training camp at the end of the day, and as we were in July, CanucksArmy will be your one-stop shop for all things training camp related over the next week and a half.

Let’s see what you wonderful people asked today! Update: The Mailbag is now closed. Stay tuned for more training camp coverage, and click here for a full recap of day one!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Seriously, go nuts. We’re in the building and are your eyes and ears for the next nine days. Wondering how a specific player is looking in drills? Ask away!

Here’s what we got to begin with:

I can answer the first part of this question even before camp officially begins. The answer is yes.

Ian Clark and Braden Holtby have known each other for some time now, and being able to work with Clark certainly played a factor in Holtby choosing to sign with the Canucks.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

“I know how much a good relationship with and the talent of a goalie coach can go, so that was definitely a big part of it,” the 31-year-old netminder said shortly after he signed in October. “I really wanted to come out to Vancouver and have a good chance at success.”

Holtby has been here for about a month now (remember the turtle debacle?) and has been working with Clark to implement some tweaks in his game.

Clark’s style of coaching isn’t for everyone. He demands that his goalies work harder than anybody else on the team and is always fine-tuning things, ensuring his goaltenders never settle and that they’re always trying to improve.

“I tell them to think about it like a skyscraper that has no top,” Clark told Jason Botchford back in 2019. “Ok, we just climbed that flight of stairs up, now let’s turn the bend and do another. And another. And we’re never going to stop. That’s just the way it is. That is an important philosophical approach because we’re never there. As soon as we’re there, we get comfortable.”

It’s not difficult to imagine how this could upset a veteran goaltender, especially one with the championship pedigree of Holtby, but that’s not the case here. The two have a good relationship, and Holtby is an exceptionally fast learner who is ready to implement whatever changes Clark deems necessary.

After all, those changes have worked wonders for a few goaltenders, and Holtby would undoubtedly love to be included in that list.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

As for Travis Hamonic (the second part of this question) my understanding is he is completely healthy. He opted out of the Edmonton bubble for personal reasons as he has a young daughter with a respiratory illness:

Hamonic has to complete a seven-day quarantine and should be able to join the Canucks toward the end of training camp.

For those wondering, the Canucks are set to have their last on-ice session at Rogers Arena on the 12th, then travel to Edmonton that same day to gear up for their season opener on January 13th.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

As for the Travis Green question, you just gave me my first question to ask him when we talk to him on zoom today!

Here are the groups for today:

Our first question of the day is another Hamonic question:

Travis Hamonic is going to be in tough trying to get into game shape by the time the Canucks open up with a back to back against the Edmonton Oilers.

He won’t be able to join the Canucks at training camp until the final three or four days of camp, and might get one scrimmage in if he’s lucky.

With no preseason games at their disposal, it’s going to be harder than usual for all of the players to be ready for game one of 56, but Hamonic is at an even greater disadvantage.

His quarantine has been chopped down to seven days instead of the federally mandated 14, but it’s still difficult to get up to game speed when ice isn’t available to you.

Admittedly, I have no idea if Hamonic has been skating back home — he has yet to have his first zoom availability as a Canuck — but that could prove extremely valuable for Hamonic if that is indeed the case.

As you can see above, the Canucks split up their groups pretty evenly. Typically — and even in July’s summer camp — the main group that skates first are the NHL regulars, followed by the AHL group.

In the summer, the Canucks were regularly swapping out bodies on the third pairing with this group while Jordie Benn was absent for the birth of his child. This included names like Jalen Chatfield, Olli Juolevi, and Brogan Rafferty.

It’s certainly harder to get a read on how coach Green is thinking when the groups are a mix of NHL and AHL talent, but it further enforces the golden rule of any day one of training camp: don’t read too much into line rushes.

That being said, it is interesting that neither Loui Eriksson or Jake Virtanen were included in group one to skate with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson. Stay tuned, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nils Höglander, Zack MacEwen, and maybe even Sven Baertschi or Jayce Hawryluk skate with the line.

Stay tuned for more, as I’ll update this answer after seeing both groups skate.

I’ve said it for a while, and I’m not just saying it because he had a solid first day of camp, but Jack Rathbone is somebody who should be on Canucks fans’ radars.

The signing of Hamonic alone instantly improves Rathbone’s chances of making the team as they now have a competent defensive defenceman who can fill the void left by Chris Tanev’s departure on the first penalty killing unit.

Moves like this will also certainly help his case:

Rathbone’s skating ability was on full display, and he looked right at home after a few missteps early on.

It’s a bit of a bold take, but I’ll say Rathbone is the prospect who has the strongest camp.

This next one isn’t so much a question, more than it is an interesting quote from the Canucks’ head coach:

Green also added that Quinn Hughes and Jalen Chatfield will skate with one another, while Olli Juolevi will line up alongside Tyler Myers when group B hits the ice in about 20 minutes from the time of this writing.

Folks, group B is out, and Nils Höglander looks great. His skating, in particular, looks better than some of the NHL regulars, and he’s showing some incredible lateral quickness.

His puck handling is superb — but we already knew that — and he looks right at home skating with NHL competition.

I know I said Rathbone would have the best camp, and while I still stand by the statement that Rathbone is going to surprise a lot of people, Höglander may in fact will his way into the lineup when all is said and done.

It’s day one, and you never want to overreact too much about play at training camp, but Höglander looks good, and was given time alongside Horvat and Pearson by coach Green:

He will certainly be a player to watch as the week progresses and we get closer and close to the season opener on January 13th.

You’ve heard by now about Nate Schmidt’s first media availability as a member of the Canucks.

His positive vibe is noticeable right away and it instantly became clear why he is spoken so highly of by teammates, media, and coaches everywhere he has played.

Holtby — Schmidt’s teammate back in their Washington days — is a much more quiet individual, so watching the two’s dynamic on day one when they were sent out to media together, was quite frankly hilarious.

Schmidt gave long, in-depth answers while laughing and smiling like a kid on Christmas morning, while Holtby tried not to laugh at the multiple jokes Schmidt was dropping throughout their availability today. One gem was when Holtby joked that he’d “warned” the rest of his new teammates about Schmidt’s bubbly personality.

You can watch all of the availabilities from group A here:

Thanks to everyone who asked questions! Stay tuned for our coverage throughout the rest of training camp!