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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: MacEwen vs Highmore, Arby’s in Rogers Arena, and pronouncing Koskenvuo

We have almost made it through the long offseason as the Vancouver Canucks are set to begin their training camp in less than 20 days now.

Throughout the offseason, we have had some fun every Monday on our weekly mailbag and today will be more of the same.

As per usual, we have a good crop of questions, so, let’s get right into it!

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Yeah, you know it’s a slow week when the biggest story surrounding the team was about the DJ leaving the organization.

To me, this is an easy one. It’s got to be Jay Swing.

Jay is an absolute pro, has a good relationship with the players and most importantly, he IS AN ABSOLUTE PRO.

You won’t hear the Chicago Blackhawks’ goal song, “Chelsea Dagger” in the arena and part of Jay’s campaign has been to bring back “Holiday” by Green Day as the Canucks’ goal song. I can neither confirm or deny if “Where The Streets Have No Name” will make a return as the Canucks take the ice. Jay is the best person for the job and if he is back in the DJ booth, justice will have been served.

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Yeah, everybody is starting to ask about Ian Clark’s next horse in the stable as Aku Koskenvuo was perfect in the crease for a game and a half at the 4 Nations tournament last month. He is now playing in the Finnish J20 league and has been off to a hot start. He has two wins in two games with one being a shutout.

He’s got a great goalie frame and our resident goalie guru David Quadrelli hasn’t stopped talking about how much of a diamond in the rough the pick was for the Canucks since the day they drafted him.

We will have plenty of coverage of him as he makes his way through his junior season before coming over to Harvard next fall.

It’s pronounced “Kos-ken-vu” as far as we’ve heard it but we will lock it down over the next few weeks.

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When it comes to pure scoring, Will Lockwood and Jonah Gadjovich will be two of the returning players who will be putting up numbers for the Abbotsford Canucks. There are some new forwards in the mix who will likely see plenty of top-six and power play minutes. Justin Dowling and Justin Bailey should be top scorers for the Abby Canucks and one of Phil Di Giuseppe, Matt Highmore or Zack MacEwen will be one of the first to get the NHL call-up but will ride the AHL top-line until then.

As for the defencemen, either one of Olli Juolevi or Jack Rathbone will excite fans to watch a young prospect get an abundance of ice time. If it’s Rathbone who is sent down, it’s going to be an onslaught of offence from him. As for Juolevi, if he’s not claimed on waivers and gets down to Abbotsford, he will be a major minute muncher. Jett Woo should be a fan favourite because of his age and name but he will likely end up being a bottom-pairing defenceman to begin the season. I am with you on the excitement for Brady Keeper — I haven’t seen him play a lot but I’d love for Woo to spend some time admiring the playstyle of Keeper. Local kid Kyle Burroughs will be a good story as well as he was born in the lower mainland.

The most exciting player happens to be in the crease. Mikey DiPietro has the brightest future out of every player on the roster and he could be a next-level goalie if he is able to build off of his lost season that was all about practice and repetition alongside Ian Clark. DiPietro is athletic as any goalie you will see in the AHL and he has improved his mechanics since coming in as a rookie. Dipietro is 22 years old and will be the face of the AHL Canucks in their inaugural season.

I expect to see a lot of DiPietro jerseys at the Abbotsford Centre.

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In my opinion, no they won’t miss any games.

It is getting kind of ridiculous that a deal has not happened yet. It’s not like the pressure point of the training camp really means that much to Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. Of course, both players want to be there for camp but if the organization and the agents are still years and millions off from a deal, the training camp pressure won’t make CAA blink. They are a power agency and will get what they want and hold out if they have to. They have all the power here.

Straight up, the Canucks are a bad team without Pettersson and Hughes.

They need to get a deal done where both sides are happy. If one of the two were to get a long-term deal, I’d think it would be done by now. It’s trending towards having two bridge deals so that Hughes and Pettersson can crush their bank accounts on their next deals.

I’m expecting a deal this Friday but don’t have anything to report, it’s just a feeling from past deals and the Canucks’ love for news on a Friday.

If we get to the Monday of training camp week. Some anxiety should begin to set in.

This is a great offseason question and it comes all the way from Australia!

Both Matthew Highmore and Zack MacEwen will be battling for an NHL job at training camp. It’s one of the final spots up for grabs and each of these two bring something to the fourth line that the other doesn’t.

Highmore can kill penalties and seems to be trusted to fit in a system.

MacEwen will drop the gloves to defend a teammate or spark the team and has a sneaky scoring touch that has come in small pockets during his NHL time.

I do believe that Travis Green and I will disagree on this one but I’d go with MacEwen. As the role of enforcer is trickling away from the league, we are seeing new-age fighters like MacEwen who can bring some offence to a fourth line while also having the intimidation factor there if needed.

The problem with MacEwen seems to be that he is just out of position a lot. It’s noticeable on the broadcast that he does bring effort but it seems like it will take some extra coaching for him to land that spot on the fourth line. If you know that you’re going to have a physical game, MacEwen will be your guy and for that reason, he may force his way onto the fourth line for playoff time even if he doesn’t start the season in the roster.

Absolutely, where else can I get loaded curly fries?

The Arby’s in Aldergrove better be ready for me on Abbotsford Canucks game days.

So, this season we will have Vasily Podkolzin and Jack Rathbone but next season there still are a name or two who should excite Canucks fans.

The first is DiPietro, who we waxed on about earlier in this mailbag but all signs are pointing to him being the back-up for Thatcher Demko in the 2022-23 season. We could see DiPietro get into 20-30 games that season and he will be tested by some of the best scorers in the world but a 23-year-old DiPietro should be ready for the task at hand.

As for a position player, I can see a world where Aidan McDonough is on the Canucks in 2022-23. If McDonough has a heck of a season this year with the Northeastern Huskies, the Canucks will be going all-in to try and get him to sign his entry-level deal and join one of the Canucks’ teams to finish off the 2021-22 season and come into 2022-23 training camp with the goal of making the NHL.

McDonough is a 6’3″ winger who currently possesses an NHL-level shot and has made major improvements to his skating since joining the Huskies for his freshman season in 2019-20.

He’s the best bet out of the prospect pool to make a big impact after Rathbone and Podkolzin graduate. We will be following his junior year at Northeastern very closely.

A long shot would be Danila Klimovich. A more likely scenario would be seeing Klimovich in the AHL for the 2022-23 season. The Canucks can bring Klimovich into the fold after his QMJHL season concludes and if that’s the case, I’d expect to see him pushing for an NHL job in 2022-23 but likely ending up in the AHL for the season.

As for the AHL in 2022-23, I’d love to see Viktor Persson, Arvid Costmar, Dmitri Zlodeyev and Linus Karlsson make their way to Abbotsford as part of the pipeline evolving. Even if two of those guys make it to the AHL for 22-23, that would be a win in my eyes.

That wraps it up for another Monday mailbag! Thanks to everyone who sent in a question and we will continue to roll along through the offseason. Canucks training camp begins on Thursday, September 23rd.