Abbotsford Canucks GM Ryan Johnson talks about the successful development stories in the AHL
By Faber7 months ago
“Through free agency or trades, it’s tough to build a Stanley Cup-winning team but you can build it through your farm system and your players’ competitiveness, pushing each other each day to get better and filter them up to the NHL — these are the first steps you see this year. Heading it next year, we’re only going to get younger, but it’s an important part of us getting to where we want to be.”
This is a quote from Abbotsford Canucks General Manager Ryan Johnson about getting young players and building a culture in the AHL for the organization.
The Abbotsford Canucks have clinched home-ice advantage for the opening round of the AHL playoffs and are one of the teams that earned that advantage due to the strong play from their group of young players.
Linus Karlsson is leading the team in goals, Danila Klimovich has seen his defensive game take massive steps, and Jett Woo is back in the conversation to be a future NHLer.
There have been a lot of good stories out of Abbotsford this season and they still have room to create some more good news as the playoffs begin on Wednesday, April 19th.
Ryan Johnson is a big reason for the AHL success. He is the general manager for the AHL team and is receiving the praise that he deserves.
I was on the phone with an agent a couple of weeks ago and that agent told me that he has no doubt in his mind that Johnson will be an NHL general manager someday. The agent spoke about Johnson’s great people skills and his calmness under pressure.
Johnson is direct and firm with his thoughts about the hockey team and he makes sure to understand the person and what makes them tick and how the organization can help develop the player.
The GM joined Brandon Astle for an interview during the first intermission of Friday’s game.
Johnson spoke about the good development stories from the AHL season, beginning with the head coach, Jeremy Colliton.
“He was an extremely important hire for us as an organization and I felt very fortunate to be able to get him when we did — when our spotted opened up here,” said Johnson. “[Colliton] was the guy that we have talked about for quite a bit of time. We did a lot of due diligence on people that have been around and coached with him and I knew he was the right one for the job here. He’s done an excellent job. We’re a young group, we’ve lost a lot of bodies and he’s been able to maintain a structure and identity for our team that hopefully can carry us through with what he’s built in into the playoffs here and trying to have some success.”
He then spoke about the team’s most valuable player, goaltender Arturs Silovs.
“We’ve always thought very highly of [Arturs Silovs] even in his limited action over the last couple of years and the COVID situation. We came into this year wanting to get him 45 to 50 starts at the pro level. We felt he could handle it and would really respond to it. Obviously, he’s done that. I mean, he’s a 21-year-old with that amount of wins and then to be able to go up and carry his calmness into the NHL, thrown into that environment and have success there. It says a lot about him as a player but also his mindset and his makeup and obviously, he’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”
At the time of writing this, Silovs has a 26-11-5 record with four shutouts, a 2.43 goals against average and a .909% save percentage. He was named MVP as voted on by the fans on Saturday afternoon.
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Johnson then was asked about his leading goal scorer and AHL rookie, Linus Karlsson.
“He’s an extremely smart player who could play in all situations but he’s got a heavy stick and he excels in the down-low game, the wall play, all the things that translate to the NHL, he does very well. He’s not a flashy player. But when you really hone in on and watch him he’s a highly detailed player that thinks the game very well and I think he’s got a chance to be an impact player for us down the road in the NHL.”
Another rookie that Johnson spoke about was Arshdeep Bains.
“[Arshdeep Bains] was a guy that in the first part of the year, although he had produced at such a high level in the Western Hockey League, we kind of had to strip them down and say, ‘Look, we’re going to allow you to use your tools at this level. But you’re gonna do it in an entirely different way and you have to accept that,’ and he did and he was in and out of the lineup early,” said Johnson. “He bought into what we were we were trying to teach him with managing the puck, giving himself a chance to play below the tops and circles but be physical and be a presence that way to get the puck into his hands and maybe a different way than he was used to in junior. He’s taken that and ran was done a fantastic job of accepting that and you’ve seen the results of him, the steps he’s taken, and now the responsibility he has not just offensively but as a penalty killer and in the defensive zone for us as well.”
Next up was Danila Klimovich.
“Mentally, I think [Danila Klimovich] has matured,” said Johnson. “I think he’s become a better professional and that’s shown in some of the execution in his game. He’s come a long long way and he’s only 20 years old. Next year should be his rookie year in pro and he’s got two under his belt [with] 15 goals this season and thriving the way he is. He’s going to have another big offseason and come back and we know he’ll take another step to be even more impactful next year.”
Let’s get to Nils Höglander.
“Give [Nils Höglander] credit, he’s got on board,” said Johnson. “It’s not easy coming down after the amount of time he has spent in the NHL. He’s bought in, he’s on board with this group. We’ve seen a much improved [player] week-to-week. He just keeps getting better and better.”
Finally, Jett Woo got some praise as well.
“[Jett Woo] has been a great story for us,” said Johnson. “He’s taken a most massive step in forming out his identity as a pro. He’s played a very physical game, skates very well, and his reads have improved immensely in the neutral zone.”
The Abbotsford Canucks begin their 2023 Calder Cup chase on Wednesday. Depending on Saturday night’s results, the Abbotsford Canucks will either be the three or four seed in the Pacific Division and will play either the Bakersfield Condors or the Ontario Reign.
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