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3 things to keep an eye on at Vancouver Canucks training camp next month

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Photo credit:Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
10 months ago
Believe it or not, Vancouver Canucks training camp is just a little over a month away.
Camp kicks off on Thursday, September 21st and runs through Monday, September 25th at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria. So with that in mind, here are three things to keep an eye on at Canucks training camp next month.

Who is going to play with Quinn Hughes?

Right now, it looks like the Canucks’ defence corps will look something like this:
Quinn Hughes-TBD
Carson Soucy-Filip Hronek
Ian Cole-Tyler Myers
Now, some folks have gone ahead and slotted Ian Cole on his off-side up to the first pairing with Hughes, while others have thrown Hronek — the club’s best right-shot defenceman — up alongside Hughes. Now, these are two very good guesses, but let’s not pretend like Tyler Myers or Noah Juulsen are completely out of the running to play alongside Hughes.
Typically, teams like to give their best defencemen as much time as possible with their potential partners, so training camp will be a good indicator of some of the ideas the Canucks’ coaching staff have in mind for Hughes.
Last year, there was plenty of talk about Oliver Ekman-Larsson playing his off-side on the top pair with Hughes, and sure enough, we saw a heavy dosage of that during training camp. Ultimately, that experiment turned out to be one the Canucks didn’t stick with after an abysmal start to the regular season. Get those reps in as early as possible!

Who, if anyone, is in the non-NHL player group?

More specifically, who is in the non-NHL player group that shouldn’t be there? Similar to how Travis Green ran training camps, we expect Rick Tocchet to run a fairly standard group A, group B, and group C. Group C will be made up of mostly non-NHLers, but we may see a surprise face in the group if somebody shows up to camp out of shape.
In the Travis Green era, this was most notably Jake Virtanen. In 2019, Green put Virtanen in the third group on day one of camp and didn’t mince words when asked about it.
“There’s certain expectations that he wanted to reach and I wanted him to reach,” Green told reporters at the time. “We both agreed that there were goals that had to be met and that if he didn’t reach them he probably wouldn’t be with the first two groups on the first day of camp. There’s nothing more than that.”
With how much Tocchet spoke about his group needing to reach a new level of fitness this offseason, it will be interesting to see if anyone comes into camp having not met the Canucks bench boss’s expectations.

How up for grabs is the backup goalie job, really?

Some were shocked when the Canucks chose not to go out and acquire a veteran backup goalie this offseason, instead opting to go with a tandem of Thatcher Demko as the starter and Spencer Martin pencilled in as the backup.
The likeliest alternative to Martin is young Arturs Silovs, who, after a run of five NHL games last season, was dominant for Team Latvia at the IIHF World Championship, picking up tournament MVP honours and finishing second to only Connor Bedard in IIHF male player of the year voting. It was a big year for Silovs, who still found himself splitting starts down in Abbotsford for most of last year.
Many believe that the best thing for Silovs’ development is to continue playing a ton of games, something he presumably wouldn’t get to do if he were the club’s backup at the NHL level. What wouldn’t come as much of a surprise is for Spencer Martin to at least get an extended look as Thatcher Demko’s backup, almost regardless of how Silovs and Martin actually perform at training camp and in their preseason games.
Martin is in the final year of his two-year one-way contract, meaning he’ll be paid the same amount regardless of whether he’s in the NHL. Certainly the Canucks would want him to be in the NHL if they’re paying him like an NHL player. Silovs’ usage at camp and his typical group placement should give us a rough idea of how in the running he is for the opening night NHL backup job. Is he sharing the ice with Thatcher Demko in group A? Is he cut from the preseason roster in time to be at Abbotsford Canucks training camp? How many preseason games will he get? The answers to these questions remain to be seen but will give us a better understanding of where the club thinks Silovs is at right now.

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