Day two of Vancouver Canucks training camp brought our first look at a scrimmage as the Canucks split up into Team White and Blue for the most game-like action we will likely see all camp.
During the back-and-forth action in the scrimmage, a few players stood out as the game simulation gave a good indication of how the lines were shaking down.
Let’s examine five of the players who stood out a day two of camp.
He was first on our list for day one and he continues to impress on day two. It didn’t take a skating test for Will Lockwood to stand out once again. Through all the drills, he continued to show good hands but also continued to show excellent foot speed through every second of ice time that he was given.
Though he performed well on the first day of camp, he was not moved up the lineup much as he continued to skate alongside AHL-bound John Stevens and Sheldon Dries throughout the scrimmage. Even with the lower-skill linemates, Lockwood found a way to create offence. There was one sequence where he showed off his hands in the corner by dangling around defenders before getting the puck out to an open teammate at the point.
As long as he doesn’t piss of Travis Green to an infinite degree on Saturday’s final day of camp, Lockwood has to be one of the leaders in the battle for the fourth line. We’ve touched on it already but he is the type of player who thrives in a training camp environment. A lot of the drills are about open-ice skating and Lockwood has looked good through all of them.
He’s proven enough to get a real shot in the preseason to earn an NHL job.
We all want the kids to go out there and take a job instead of having it given to them and Will Lockwood has done that through the first two days of training camp.
It’s always a good thing to hit the scoresheet, even if it’s in a training camp scrimmage. Jonah Gadjovich did exactly that as he scored one of the three goals in Friday’s scrimmage. He scored the goal exactly the way he knows how, going hard to the net with his stick on the ice.
Gadjovich knows that he has to battle on every shift to have a chance to make it to the NHL. There are two spots on the fourth line that are open if Tyler Motte is to miss the season opener. Motte skated after the two groups wrapped up today along with Guillaume Brisebois and Carson Focht. All three are battling injuries but looked close to ready to participate in a regular practice. They may just be avoiding contact for now.
On the opposite side of the physical spectrum, Gadjovich needs to seek out contact. He has not necessarily had the opportunity to showcase his physical side because of the training camp environment and the obvious lack of friendly fire contact. Once the Canucks get into some preseason games, that is when Gadjovich is going to need to show his strength and throw the body around more.
On Thursday, Gadjovich told CanucksArmy
that he shed 10 pounds this summer in hopes of getting lighter on his feet and improving his skating. It was another day where he looked to show that his skating has in fact improved. He was on a line with Ethan Keppen and Chase Wouters for the scrimmage and the trio appeared to show some chemistry as they battled against Team Blue’s bottom line.
When asked about his scoring touch exploding over the past year, Gadjovich joked by saying, “yeah, that’s what I’ve been working on. I’d love to start scoring in the NHL. Put some pucks in the net for Vancouver and help the team win.”
He will get that opportunity in the preseason and the question is: who will he line up with?
Nic Petan and Zack MacEwen will be battling for a fourth-line role against Gadjovich but those two players have been up the lineup playing with linemates like Bo Horvat or Brock Boeser. Gadjovich is still with AHLers like Wouters and Keppen. It’s hard to read into it too much but we will have to see where he lines up for some preseason games and if he can get some time with some of the projected bottom-six players instead of playing alongside a couple of young forwards who will be fighting for an AHL job instead of an NHL job.
After impressing with his shot on the first day of camp, Vasily Podkolzin continued to look like an NHLer as he played on a line with J.T. Miller and Conor Garland during the scrimmage. He had the crowd in awe with some of his shots in the early practice as we continue to learn that it’s not his shot that is the problem, it’s more about how and when he uses it.
We noted that Podkolzin still looks hesitant to attempt more advanced dekes and try to have some flash to his game. Right now, it’s more about impressing the coach with his effort level and defensive skill. He continues to shine in drills where he has to play as a defender.
The only knock that we found was that he did get knocked over pretty easily in the scrimmage. Once by Jett Woo, who was a little bit of a wrecking ball during the scrimmage, and once by Tucker Poolman, who presses on with Oliver Ekman-Larsson as his defence partner.
We will get to that pairing in a minute.
Podkolzin still has not looked out of place once in practice. Aside from when he was the third forechecker on a drill that only required two and Travis Green gave him a tap on the helmet as he called back the 20-year-old.
After the scrimmage, Podkolzin was made available to the media through a translator and was enjoying his time at training camp but also looking to the future.
“I really enjoyed the first two days of camp and I can’t wait for the games to start,” said Podkolzin.
Through the first two days of camp, he has been nearly attached at the hip with J.T. Miller.
“I really appreciate the advice, it has really helped me adjust,” said Podkolzin. “I really enjoy playing with (Garland and Miller), I really like them as linemates and I have so much to learn from them.”
He was asked who gave him the best advice for his move over the North America and the NHL game, “I got a lot of advice from everyone going over but got the best advice from the legend.”
I followed up and asked, “Larionov?” and he replied with “yes, Larionov”.
The Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Tucker Poolman pairing
Through the scrimmage, the chemistry continued to build for the Ekman-Larsson and Poolman pairing. They did a good job rotating at the point and Poolman was setting up OEL for a lot of shots which showed that OEL was indeed great at getting pucks on net as promised.
Throughout the entire practice, they showed the most chemistry and were engaged in a lot of the in-zone offence. OEL is clearly the shooter of the pairing and Poolman does a good job of opening up space for OEL’s shots.
This has been the most consistently used pairing through two days of camp and it feels like we already have an answer to the offseason question of who will play alongside Ekman-Larsson.
Poolman and OEL should get some preseason games together and it will be interesting to watch them fall into place once Quinn Hughes and Travis Hamonic arrive at camp. If they ever do.
The latest we have on Hughes is that he is practicing at USA Hockey Arena with his father Jim and Elias Pettersson has joined them in Plymouth, Michigan. Hamonic was expected to be at the first day of training camp but has been a no-show so far. Both situations are evolving daily and without them, the Canucks’ defence core looks much weaker on paper.
That’s it for our standouts from day two. We will be back with the live notebook for tomorrow and have another wrap-up on Sunday morning from day three of training camp.