All around the world, there are Vancouver Canucks prospects in different parts of their seasons in many different leagues.
With that in mind, we have seen a lot of the Canucks prospects raise or drop their stock in the past six months, meaning it’s time for an updated prospect rankings list here at CanucksArmy.
We are going to make the qualifications simple. The player must be under the age of 24 and have not played in the NHL this season. The goal is to rank who has the best chances of being a difference-maker in the NHL. There are a few stars at the top of this list but there are also some that may just fit into a depth role in the NHL. We will take all of that into account and make the ranking represent the NHL impact that this player could end up having if they continue to trend upwards through the next handful of years.
So, now that we have the qualifications in order, let’s look at our first prospect.
Coming in at #10 on the list is Carson Focht.
Back in November, a few of us contributors put together our top 16 prospects and Carson Focht did not crack the top 16. A lot has changed since November and he has jumped right into the AHL and looked like a solid centre. After watching Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich struggle in their first pro seasons, we are seeing a few young players making an impressive impact at the AHL level.
This season, Focht is one of those players making an impact and in turn, raising his stock proving that he will not require a transition year as he becomes a pro. He has jumped right into a third-line role and sees time on both special teams units. He loves to shoot the puck and tends to lean on the one-timer from the right side to be his favourite shot on the power play. He has been on the second power play unit and is relied upon to take draws before setting up on the right half-wall.
He has also looked good when it comes to quick decision-making, which is one of the most important things to see in a prospect’s games while they play in the AHL. He makes a lot of clean passes and is good at picking a side to lean to in board battles.
Here’s a saucer pass from Focht that sets up a power play goal for the Comets.
In the early parts of the Comets’ season, the line combination of Will Lockwood, Carson Focht and Jonah Gadjovich was dubbed the LFG line from Cory Hergott. It was the perfect name as that trio was a fast line that finished their hits and played an excellent middle-six role in the AHL. Focht has been able to confidently step into the faceoff circle and hold his own with room to grow his faceoff ability into a plus asset if he gets with the right coach.
The Canucks don’t have many centres in their prospect pool, Focht is one of two on this list. It’s been a real positive to see Focht have early success in the AHL and show some very promising signs that he has grown his game the right way.
Focht now has an understanding of what professional hockey is all about. Though he hasn’t produced at a high rate with only one goal and two assists through nine games, since the first game of the season, he has fit right into the AHL.
Immediately jumping into a penalty-killing role is another nice piece on the toolbelt for Focht. The Comets have used other centres on the penalty kill throughout the season but Focht sees shorthanded time in most games.
The real exciting thing about watching Focht play is his willingness to shoot the puck.
For comparison, Kole Lind had five shots in the first nine games of his rookie AHL season.
Focht is third on the Comets with 22 shots in nine games.
He goes to the net and attacks it from anywhere on the ice with his goal of just getting pucks on net and hoping for something good to happen. It’s a simple game, but it seems to work for Focht. He hasn’t been rewarded with many goals this season but it feels like he should have some more with how often he gets dangerous shots off on goaltenders.
He may be one of, if not, the highest riser since November. The fact that he is a centre does give him a bit more value on my rankings and the most exciting thing about his season is that he is doing this as a prospect who just turned 21-years-old in February.
The Comets should return to play soon and Focht is one of the stories to follow in the final five-week stretch of the AHL season.
Focht will now be a player to keep an eye on at Canucks camp next year, but even with his progression this year, he is likely still a couple of years away from the NHL. The best you can hope for from this year is that he gets a true understanding of what it takes to make it to the NHL from his AHL experience and that understanding drives him in the offseason to come back a better hockey player.
It’s been an impressive 2021 for Focht on the ice but with no Comets games since early March, it’s impossible to know how his game would have looked through the month of March. Luckily, the Comets are scheduled to play a ton of games over the next five weeks and we should be able to get a much better read on what type of player Carson Focht is. I’m excited to see if the #10 ranked Focht’s stock will continue to rise as 2021 treads along.