Photo credit:James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Abbotsford Canucks news: Why Danila Klimovich was a healthy scratch, Lane Pederson’s strong debut, and Jett Woo’s comeback season
By Faber1 year ago
The Abbotsford Canucks had their home opener weekend with games on both Friday and Saturday night.
Friday was a 7-3 shellacking of the San Diego Gulls, and Cody Severtson covered that game HERE.
We were out at the Abbotsford Centre for Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Gulls on Diwali night. There were some intriguing storylines to follow from the weekend so let’s dive right into what we saw and heard from the AHL affiliate.
Lane Pederson looked strong
It took two shifts in a Canucks jersey for newcomer Lane Pederson to score a goal. Pederson was the “AHL player” that came with Ethan Bear in Friday’s trade. The 25-year-old winger wasted no time making an impact with his new club. After not hitting the scoresheet in his first four AHL games of the season with the Chicago Wolves, Pederson tallied one goal and one assist in his first game with Abby and was named the second star of the game.
“The guys are great, the coaching staff seems great, the organization seems great,” said Pederson. “I’m just thrilled to be here.”
“I was actually taking a pregame nap to play [on Friday] then I woke up and was kind of out of it. I had like four or five missed calls and my phone was blowing up. And then like five hours later, I was at the airport to get on a plane. So yeah, it was a wild day but super exciting now that it’s finally sunk in. I’m extremely happy to be a Canuck and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Pederson got to play with a bunch of different line combinations as forward Phil Di Giuseppe took a check to the head in the first period and ended up missing the majority of the game.
“[It was my] first time seeing him live and I thought he was one of our better forwards,” said head coach Jeremy Colliton when asked about his thoughts on Pederson’s game. “[We were] just trying to try and get something going and I thought [Pederson] had a good night.”
Jett Woo(ed) the crowd and the coach
After a tumultuous season last year, right-shot defenceman Jett Woo is off to a good start this season and put a stamp on his improved physical play with a massive hit on Friday night.
“It was just one of those plays where I figured that guy was just going to shoot the puck but the fact that he came in and tried to toe drag me, well, it was kind of funny to me,” said Woo. “[It was] just one of those times where I was able to lay a hit and we were fortunate enough to go down the other end score. It’s just one of those plays where I’m just going to keep hitting and playing physical — that’s my game.”
After battling injuries last season, the 22-year-old defenceman is impressing the coach with his simple playstyle and should be relied upon to be a solid contributor on the backend.
“From the start, I think Jett has done a really good job,” said Colliton. “I actually probably think he played better before this weekend. And I think when he’s playing simple and direct while moving the puck north, he’s really effective. He’s a great skater and relies on his skating to defend and gap up and put himself in a position to be physical to get stops. He’s still young and we hope he’s going to continue to improve.”
Woo is still just 22 years old and has had to deal with some tough years of development with COVID, injuries, and even being used as a forward at times over his AHL career. He’s looking forward to continuing to develop and wants to be one of the defencemen that Vancouver can rely upon when the team needs a call-up to the NHL.
“I feel in shape and I’m playing with a little chip on my shoulder,” said Woo. “When guys go up [to Vancouver], I’ve got to step up. So it’s been good for me and I know for the D-corps, we’re working great and communicating really well. It’s our job to just keep going forward and to work on the things we need to.”
19-year-old Danila Klimovich gets healthy scratched
We never want to see a young prospect miss games and that was the case on Saturday night as Danila Klimovich was kept out of the lineup despite taking the pregame warmup.
Klimovich has played in five games this season and has one goal and two assists on the year.
“We’ve got competition for ice time,” said Colliton. “And obviously, we believe in him and he’s going to continue to improve as the year goes on. I think he has actually, I see his game trending in the right direction but our forward group is getting stronger and we want guys to continue to earn their ice.”
The AHL is a developmental league and seeing the top prospect on the team not play in a game where he is healthy raises a bit of concern. Players like Yushiroh Hirano and Vinny Arseneau drew into the lineup ahead of Klimovich and that is a bit concerning on both the decision-making but also the spot that Klimovich is at with his game.
Hirano is a good example of a player who plays the game hard at both ends of the ice and when you take into account the 200-foot game, he’s probably been a better player than Klimovich this season. That’s not great news but Klimovich is still learning so much so quick and as his head coach said, he has already made improvements this season.
Though Klimovich has taken steps to be a more engaged defender, there are still blatant lapses in his effort level or defensive awareness.
I do believe that Klimovich has shown to be a better defender this season and there’s no knocking his shot, which has been more consistent than we have seen in the past. But this season is more about developing than finding comfortability and maybe a healthy scratch helps send a message to the kid that he needs to work harder to get into the lineup. He is only 19 years old, and this is a long-term project to mould his game into being able to play at the NHL level.
Competition breeds excellence and with the additions of veteran AHLers like Pederson and Kyle Rau, the Abbotsford Canucks’ forward group is going to force Klimovich into a competition for ice time.
One healthy scratch isn’t concerning, if this becomes a trend, then you should be worried.
Cody Severtson and I will have you covered every step of the way as the AHL season rolls along. The Abbotsford Canucks are hosting home games the next two weekends with the Coachella Valley Firebirds coming to town for games next weekend on Friday and Saturday. Then the following week, the Henderson Silver Knights roll into Abby for games on Thursday, November 10th and Saturday, November 12th.
The Canucks are then off for a Canada-wide road trip that will see them on the road for two and a half weeks with a pair of games against each of the Laval Rocket, Toronto Marlies, and Calgary Wranglers.
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