5 players who stood out for the Canucks on day one of camp (2 of them for the wrong reasons)
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Faber1 year ago
Thursday saw the Vancouver Canucks take to the ice for their first on-ice training camp sessions. 42 players and five goalies took to the ice to show their skill and attempt to earn a spot on the NHL roster or impress enough to land better positioning on the AHL depth chart.
It was great to be back in the rink watching the Canucks skate and we saw multiple players stick out with their play.
3 players who had a good day
Let’s start with the good.
As one of the players battling for a spot on the Canucks’ fourth line, Will Lockwood made a strong case on the first day of training camp. He showed up prepared and with a chip on his shoulder. After playing in 24 AHL games, Lockwood snuck into two NHL games near the end of the 2020-21 season. He skates with NHL pace and looks to have the hands to chip in offensively in a bottom-six role.
When it came to effort level, he was one of the best throughout the entire group A roster. That effort was carried into the skating test at the end of practice and he blew his competition out of the water, being one of the fastest Canucks to finish the four and a half rink length skating test.
This was a man on a mission. The 23-year-old Lockwood is likely on the outside looking in when it comes to who makes the NHL roster, but did everything in his power to impress on the first day of camp.
It’s going to take another day of this effort level at training camp for Lockwood to really put a stamp on the weekend but from all the signs on day one, he was one of the best risers from a 90-minute skate.
Lockwood possesses the skills to shine in a camp environment. He moves well on drills that take up 3/4 of the ice and battles hard no matter the competition. He’s definitely caught some eyes early and will be looked to finish up strong on the final two days of camp. Lockwood should get a long look in the preseason from Travis Green.
After lighting up the AHL last season, Jonah Gadjovich got into one NHL game and it did not go well for him. He learned enough in that one game that he needed to be faster, and on day one of camp, he looked faster. We noted that he was lighter on his feet and did an excellent job putting the puck in the back of the net in a lot of his drill reps.
We all know Gadjovich is a big and strong forward who knows his role with an NHL team and wants to be a bottom-six contributor. He’s told CanucksArmy that everything he has done this offseason has been to reach his goal of making the NHL out of camp.
He consistently beat Thatcher Demko with his strong shot and will need to build off of day one of camp to have a shot at making the NHL team. If Lockwood was on the outside looking in, Gadjovich is on the outside looking outside and in. He has a lot of names to jump in the depth chart to get into the NHL lineup but he took a big step towards that jump on day one of camp.
If you are a bubble player who is not sure if they will make the NHL team or not, it’s always a good sign to be between Nils Höglander and Brock Boeser on day one of camp. That is the spot where Nic Petan found himself on Thursday morning. To the surprise of many, Petan slid between the team’s top even-strength scoring players from the 2020-21 season.
Petan showed that he could skate with pace and had good hands throughout the day.
Though he may just be a placeholder for Elias Pettersson, Petan fit the part and showed that he could keep up with Höglander and Boeser. Petan is in an interesting spot at training camp as many believe that he has offensive potential but will not really get a chance to show it. If he stays on a line with Höglander and Boeser until Pettersson arrives, that may be enough runway for him to earn a spot in the Canucks’ bottom-six. The team needs depth scoring and Petan has the ability to play multiple positions and bring pace to any line.
His usage will be interesting to follow over the next two weeks with or without Pettersson being around.
Two players who had a bad day
Chalk it up to a bad breakfast, a nagging injury or just a bad day. There were a few players who stuck out for bad reasons on Thursday.
Olli Juolevi/Oliver Ekman-Larsson
We are only going to count Juolevi and OEL as one player because they each had a half-bad day.
Through the drills, each of the left-shot defencemen looked fine. Juolevi had some good matchups against Vasily Podkolzin while the OEL and Tucker Poolman pairing looked to hold down the crease well in multiple drills.
The only reason they really stick out negatively was the skating tests at the end of practice.
Ekman-Larsson was noticeably behind his group in the test but did power through and showed professionalism through the bag skate. He went around and gave a stick tap to every player during the post-practice stretch as well — a nice sign of being a veteran and acknowledging the hard work from the group.
Though he was pretty far behind in the group, we’re not reading too much into this.
OEL isn’t a burner and he’s not trying to impress anyone during the bag skate. Yes, we definitely want to see him giving effort in this test but at the same time, it doesn’t really matter that much.
The skating test is more about those trying to prove themselves and their top-tier conditioning. That’s where Lockwood and Höglander came up big.
Now to Juolevi, where there looked to be a bigger problem in the bag skate.
Even after the first set of four and a half lengths, Juolevi looked gassed. He followed that up by being down on the ice after the second attempt and being curled in the corner after the third go.
The worrisome part was seeing a couple of the vets be vocal with Juolevi as they — let’s use the word “encouraged” — him to get up off the ice if he was able to.
There are a few troubling signs here. It could be Juolevi just having not done a good job in his conditioning this offseason. He worked hard throughout the practice and didn’t seem to be overly tired after drills.
Another cause could be much worse as the long-term effects of having COVID may be the cause of this weakness in the skating test. This lines up with Juolevi’s horrible luck but it’s impossible for us to tell just from how he reacted to one skate. There was no mention of any injury from the team, coach or player so we cannot assume that any long-term effects of the virus are affecting him.
We’re going to chalk it up as bad conditioning until he proves us wrong with a better skate on Friday or word is made public of him battling something else.
We all know that Thatcher Demko is without a doubt going to be the starter for the Canucks on day one of the season.
He doesn’t have to earn the spot in the next few weeks but he didn’t look like the standout goalie who fans expect to be challenging for the Vezina this season.
From speaking with Kevin Woodley of InGoal Magazine, he said that he thought Demko looked a bit too stiff and was too upright for a lot of the practice.
Woodley also told us not too worry too much about Demko but did say that it wasn’t a great performance for him at day one of camp.
We expect to see a better day on Friday from the Canucks’ starter.
It’s going to be another busy day on Friday as the Canucks take to the ice for day two of camp. We will keep an eye on those who stood out on day one and report back with the biggest stories of the day.
Follow along at CanucksArmy for live updates from camp as David Quadrelli will be doing another live notebook from Friday’s on-ice sessions.
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