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Blackfish: Aatu Räty enjoys elevated role, Jett Woo grabs another goal, and more

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Photo credit:Nick Barden
Dave Hall
5 months ago
Welcome back to another installment of the Blackfish Prospect report.
So far, with just over a month of games in the bag, our last few reports have been jam-packed with clips and updates.
These kids just wouldn’t stop producing.
Well, this week, we learned that development, more specifically, offensive contributions, experiences its ebbs and flows, as we saw the Vancouver Canucks’ prospect pool tap the breaks, ever so slightly.
Before we get going into the clips for the week, we’ll take this moment to quickly plug our revived series “Prospect Film Room”.
While this weekly Blackfish report brings you up to speed with the entire prospect pool as an umbrella, Prospect Film Room will dive a little deeper into one specific prospect each week.
These two reports will work together cohesively, and we think it will give you, our beloved readers, a little more context when keeping up with the Canucks’ prospects.
Here is our first report (here), as we took a look at Tom Willander.
Back to the task at hand, let’s check out our updated statistics from the week.

AHL

The Abbotsford Canucks hit the ice three times over the week, but if you asked them, they may only want to remember two.
They closed the week with a 1-2-0 record, which included a spooky 8-3 defeat on Halloween night.
It’s been tricky to put a finger on where this club is at. Some nights, things look dominant, and the group appears to be on the verge of something special, and other nights, well, things just appear messy and disjointed.
Most of this inconsistency likely stems from an inexperienced lineup, as opposed to the more veteran and seasoned dynamic that we saw from previous seasons. Injuries, of course, play their role as well.
Right now, the club consists of many first and second-year skaters, with a few of them juggling the fine line of being an AHL/ECHL tweener. In fact, according to Elite Prospects, they rank third last in experience, with an average of 2.331 years of experience.
They maintain their second place spot in the Pacific Division with a 6-4-1 record, but some of those wins are a credit to some phenomenal goaltending, as the defensive play just hasn’t been up to snuff.
With plays like this, there are some things to clean up.
Nikita Tolopilo, who has suffered a minor — and we mean minor — setback in his impressive start, has been a refreshing signing and appears to bring some solid untapped upside.
Looking at his past week, however, you wouldn’t be able to tell.
He’s now running a three-game losing streak and has let a minimum of four goals in each of those three. Of course, except for maybe one game, where he gave up four goals on just 22 shots, it’s hard to place any of those losses solely on him. He is still playing calm and steady goaltending, and sometimes, you can only do as much as the defence in front of you allows you to.
We aren’t even close to touching that panic button.
With the tandem in mind, let’s talk Arturs Silovs. After giving up three goals on 15 shots on Halloween night, he was pulled from the game for the first time this season after just 20 minutes between the pipes.
Don’t worry, he bounced right back.
That’s right, folks, we had our first “Arty Party” on Saturday, after he turned away all 23 shots, securing his first shutout of the 2023-24 campaign and sixth of his young AHL career.
As “poor” as his game has seemed early on, he still carries a 4-1-1 record on the year, with his four wins sitting just one back of the top of the league (five).
As mentioned, the defensive group in front of this goalie tandem is not as strong as we have seen in the past, and so, the record that we see in the standings is not entirely indicative of how they have looked thus far.
Sure, Silovs has looked shaky at times (especially in comparison to his form last season) but things are still coming along smoothly and we do not see any cause for concern just yet.
Speaking of defence, Jett Woo contributed two points over the week, which included his second goal of the year.
The 23-year-old is now up to seven points in 11 games, just one back of his 2021-22 total, which took him 43 games to accomplish.
He’s currently on pace to shatter his career high of 21 points, which he set last year and is projected to hit 46 points (13G + 33A) if he continues to roll as he has.
Do you want to talk point projection? Arshdeep Bains is currently on pace for 105 points in his sophomore year.
The local kid has done everything right this year, and that’s in addition to his AHL-leading 16-point campaign.
After putting up three assists over his first two games to start the week, his point streak finally came to an end after seven games. Oh well, the points are a fantastic tribute to his strong play, but right now, his game is offering so much more than that.
He has found a nice rhythm alongside Sheldon Dries and Nils Åman on the top line, along with top minutes on both special teams units, and until he finally gets the call to make the drive to Rogers Arena, those points should continue to keep pouring in.
As most are aware, with a logjam of wingers in Vancouver, getting promoted is easier said than done right now, and that’s okay. Often there is pressure from fans to have prospects promoted right away, but there is nothing wrong with marinating and building off this strong start as he continues to develop and add to his confidence in the minors.
If you caught our last installment, we had mentioned that Aatu Räty was coming off his best week of the season. Well, that was until this week.
With the injury bug hitting the Abbotsford dressing room, Jeremy Colliton has been forced to juggle things up on the fly and try new combinations – and he may have found something with this second line.
Moving to the wing, Räty has enjoyed success alongside Max Sasson and Linus Karlsson, and in some cases, stood out as the team’s most impressive unit.
As a trio, they combined for eight points on the week, with both Räty (1G + 2A) and Sasson (2G + 1) contributing three each.
Here is goal one of three, which shows Räty finding Sasson with a cheeky drop pass.
Goal two saw all three make tremendous plays for a Sasson finish.
Finally, Räty gets one for himself.
It’s not as if he has been a revelation, but Räty certainly appears to have grabbed the bull by the horns in his recent elevated role. He is looking much more confident on the ice, both with and without the puck, and is beginning to try things offensively that he may have shied away from in recent memory.
And yes, as you read in the tweet, he’s up to seven points over his last eight games.
One of the elements in his game that has stood out is his vision. He seems to have an ability to find teammates with quick, and deceptive passes. Now, sometimes they are a bit risky and may get him into some trouble at the NHL level, but it’s something that has stood out.
In addition to his second-line promotion, he’s also gotten looks and has seen success, on the secondary power play unit. He’s looked good as the set-up man from the half-wall, making quick one-touch passes, or trying to find cross-crease seams. It’s been refreshing to see him testing out some things and building confidence.
He’s been taking one-timers, looking eager to get the puck back, and in general, has been much more of an offensive threat than previously seen.
When Abbotsford returns to full health, Räty likely slides back down to the bottom six, given the firepower that is dressed in the top two lines.
However, we hope that this recent stint will offer some confidence from the coaching staff, and provide a bit of a leash to see some increased minutes. At the very least, continued looks on the club’s power play unit.
For a final note on him, as many have asked, his skating certainly looks improved. He still carries a somewhat awkward and upright stance, but his initial acceleration and his full top speed are much stronger, and it shows both with and without the puck.
All-in-all, there is much more work to be done, but it’s encouraging to see him make strides when handed the opportunity.
To wrap up our AHL section, let’s talk Ty Glover for a moment.
No, he did not provide any production throughout the week, but he did draw back into the lineup and offer some promising looks over a two-game span.
It appears that Jeremy Colliton agreed, as he was promoted to the club’s third line on Saturday after drawing three penalties and making life a headache for his opposition on Friday.
The first thing that grabs your attention is his size and work ethic. He has a great motor and finishes every check. He backs this up with good speed and doesn’t stop moving at either end of the ice. To see a skater in a 6-foot-3 package move as well as he does is certainly refreshing.
Heck, he even got a few chances to put up his first goal in a Canucks uniform.
Here, you’ll see him provide a check, get the puck back, and set up a beautiful chance.
It’s still way too early to be jumping into any “NHL upside” predictions here, but we wonder if he’s given the coaching staff something to think about once the team gets back on track with a full healthy lineup. He could become a valued member of this club’s bottom-six units.
When the Canucks first brought him in via trade, Jim Rutherford mentioned that he was not just simply a “throw-in” to the deal, and perhaps he was on to something…

Europe

We are going to tie all three of our Euro leagues into one section, as it was a quiet week overseas.
Both Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Lekkerimäki (illness) missed time, and the rest of the crop did not bring anything worth noting.
It is still unclear why Pettersson missed two games, but we hope to see him in a Team Sweden uniform later this week, as he and Jonathan Lekkerimäki are slated to team up to take part in this year’s U20 Five-Nations tournament in Czechia. This will be a nice pre-cursor to the World Junior Championships, which are set to take place in their home country this year.
For those interested, here is the game schedule for Sweden:
November 9th, 3:00 PM vs Switzerland
November 10th, 6:30 PM vs Slovakia
November 11th, 6:30 PM vs Czechia
November 12th, 1:00 PM vs Finland
Updated for Pacific Standard Time:
November 9th, 6:00AM vs Switzerland
November 10th, 9:30 AM vs Slovakia
November 11th, 9:30 AM vs Czechia
November 12th, 4:00 AM vs Finland
Of course, we will be covering these games in our next Blackfish report next week.
We are in week two of our “Free Lucas Forsell” campaign, as we saw nothing change from his low utilization. He skated less than 20 minutes between two matches, grabbing four shots on net and a minus-one rating.

NCAA

Much like the rest of the prospects within the Canucks system, it was a quiet week for the Collegiate skaters.
Aku Koskenvuo saw his first look of the season and came out quite strong with 39 saves, despite suffering a 5-4 decision in a shootout.
As mentioned last week, Harvard will be rolling out a battle between the pipes, with both Koskenvuo and Derek Mullahy fighting for the starting role. So far, Mullahy, who posted a stellar 5-0-0 record last year, has allowed seven goals over first two starts. Hopefully, that allows the Canucks prospect to gain some traction with the coaching staff and push for more starts moving forward.
Jack Malone grabbed an assist over the weekend, feeding Philadelphia Flyers standout prospect, Cutter Gauthier, for his second assist and fifth point of the year.
Now eight games into his Senior season, it looks like he is going to continue getting looks alongside a potent top-six and power play unit. After three mediocre years at Cornell, it will be interesting to see if an uptick in offensive production can attract any professional suitors – including the Vancouver Canucks.
Perhaps Ty Mueller read last week’s Blackfish installment, after we hyped him up, despite the lack of offensive production. He’s now up to four points in six games
Over the weekend, he potted his first goal of the year and first since being drafted in the fourth round earlier this summer. He brings an intriguing profile, that revolves around being a waterbug on the ice and some offensive flair. Whether that develops into anything high-end or pro-worthy is too early to tell from our viewings, but so far, there is at least some intrigue to take a closer look.
Jacob Truscott picked up another assist over the weekend, dropping to one knee from the point and collecting a secondary assist. He was a plus-two with four shots over the weekend and is up to seven assists on the year.
It was another pointless weekend for Tom Willander, who continues to patrol alongside Aiden Celebrini on the Boston Terriers’ third pair and secondary special teams units.
However, as we highlighted in our inaugural Prospect Film Room report, the Swedish rearguard is doing much more on the ice to mask his “slower” start on the scoresheet.
Using his elite skating, Willander is an absolute ace when it comes to shutting down offenders from getting the inside track on him.
He simply does not allow it.
He uses an extremely active stick and uses his skating to out-hustle his offenders.
We strongly encourage you to take a look at the deep dive, as it offers a bit more substance, especially on his defensive play.
Matthew Perkins began his freshman year with a promising role on the top two lines, but in recent games, he’s been demoted to a fourth-line position with Minnesota-Delluth. It’s not entirely unexpected given that he is a Freshman with a relatively modest upside.
Jackson Dorrington returned to the lineup after a two-game absence with an undisclosed injury but did not hit the scoresheet, playing a second-pairing role.

OHL

It’s not often that we see third-round picks bring such a buzz, at least not this quick. Yet, so far, the Canucks fan base has been absolutely spoiled out of Ontario.
Hunter Brzustewicz continues to put up insane numbers from the backend and it has gotten to the point where we almost expect a point in each of his matches.
I think you can probably guess where we are heading with this…
After assists in his first two games of the week, his incredible point streak was snapped and held to 14 games.
His impressive run had him register a point in every game but his season opener, and 27 points (5G + 22A) during that span. He now shares second place in league scoring, three behind his teammate Carson Rehkopf.
He’s on pace for 115 points, which would give him the OHL’s fifth-best season by a defender all-time. It’s crazy stuff.
After hitting the scoresheet hard last week, both Kirill Kudryavtsev and Vilmer Alriksson were held off of the scoresheet this week.

WHL

Ty Young experienced a two-headed work week, earning a well-deserved 24-save 3-2 overtime win, and then following it up by getting pulled after allowing four goals on 12 shots just days later. He sports an 8-4-0 record, and sits second in WHL wins.
That wraps up our report for this week.
This week coming up offers a bit of a lighter schedule, but make sure to keep tabs on the Five-Nations U20 tournament kick-starting Thursday.
See you next week!

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