Blackfish: Arshdeep Bains keeps putting up points, Jonathan Lekkerimäki goes coast-to-coast, and much more
Photo credit:Nick Barden
By Dave Hall1 month ago
Well, it’s the end of an era.
Last week marked Faber’s final Blackfish Prospect report, and his final day here at CanucksArmy will be November 5th.
I am sure everyone who reads this is with me in saying, best of luck, Faber. You will be missed.
His shoes, specifically with this report, will be tough to fill, but I am excited to take on the report and add my own spice to things.
For those wondering, here is a quick backstory on me: I have spent the last several years covering Canucks and NHL prospects over at DobberProspects. During my time, I wore hats such as Managing Editor, Crossover Scout, and of course, Canucks’ prospect contributor.
With that, let’s talk about the Vancouver Canucks, shall we?
When was the last time that this organization carried such buzz?
Both Vancouver and Abbotsford sit second among their respective divisions, while the OHL and AHL points leader, along with the SHL’s top goalscorer, are all members of the Canucks’ prospect pipeline.
It’s getting a little surreal, so be sure to take it all in, as it might not last forever.
But right now, things are positive.
We’ve got a lot to get to this week, so let’s dive right in.
First, here is a look at the updated statistics.
It was a busy week for the Abbotsford Canucks, as they were tasked with four games in six nights.
Despite some shaky defensive efforts, they continue to roll, winning three of four games, and securing a 5-2-1 record to close out the week.
The major news from the week centred around Vasily Podkolzin, who had a frightening injury scare when he was taken down with a late slew foot and landed on his neck.
I do not want to share the video, but I am sure you have either seen or heard about it by now – it was scary stuff.
Fortunately, Vasily appears to be doing well but remains under concussion protocol for the time being. We are extremely relieved to hear this news because, at the time, the concern went far beyond his role as a prospect for the Vancouver Canucks.
Before the injury, things were looking great for the 22-year-old. He not only grabbed an assist in the game where he suffered his injury but made a tremendous power move to call the game in overtime just one night prior.
This is the exact type of play that fans expected from Vasily, and while the hope was that it would take place in Vancouver, it is an encouraging sign to see his power go to work.
His demotion to the AHL should be viewed as nothing but a positive for his long-term development. It allows him to grab heavy minutes and build the necessary confidence that wasn’t possible while treading water at the NHL level.
It’s an important reminder that development is not always a linear path.
Let him marinate, and give him the proper time to figure things out.
Okay, let’s talk about Arshdeep Bains.
The local Surrey kid kept his incredible start alive, scoring two goals and contributing six points over the week.
He currently sports an impressive eight-game point streak and, amazingly, closes the week leading the AHL in scoring, tied at the top alongside teammate Christian Wolanin with 13 points.
Of course, for theatrics, he grabs that title by delivering a no-look pass.
Abbotsford’s General Manager, Ryan Johnson, spoke about Arshdeep Bains on CHEK TV’s Donnie and Dhali, highlighting his development into the professional circuit.
“We wanted to basically strip down his game and build him back up before he even played a game in pro hockey,” said Johnson.
Known as a high point-producing winger in the junior ranks, the coaching staff has worked on instilling versatility in his game, preparing him for a more multi-use, middle-six role in the future.
With just one year under his belt, the plan seems to be going exceptionally well. He’s not only contributing offensively but also logging significant minutes in all situations for the club and leading by example in all three zones.
While a crowded bottom six in Vancouver will make things difficult for him to catch a sniff, you have to imagine that his hard-nosed efforts are catching the eyes of the powers that be from up top.
Here are his two goals from the week.
This week saw several AHL skaters secure their first points or goals of the season.
Josh Bloom, known for his pest-like style of play, earned his first professional point in his fifth AHL game. It was a secondary assist on a play that saw Jett Woo score his first goal of the season.
In the clip, you do not see him make the pass, but what you do see is Bloom (#62) charging the net to provide a screen on the opposing goaltender. Without his presence, along with Alex Kannok Leipert’s, this puck probably doesn’t go in.
This play sums up Bloom’s game to a tee, as his willingness to head to the blue paint and muck things up is what makes him an intriguing up-and-coming prospect.
We like him a lot.
As for Woo, he continues to eat up minutes – and pucks – as the club’s top option on the right side. Aside from his first goal of the year, he continues to deliver his typical defensive game and is bruising it up, as usual.
Speaking of right-handed defenders, Filip Johansson also recorded the first point of his AHL career.
The assist came off of a snapshot from the point, where Chase Wouters managed to tuck home the rebound for his second of the season.
The 23-year-old Johansson has been alright this year but he is clearly at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to call-up options.
He has simply failed to stand out in any particular manner and had a very disappointing pre-season with the big club.
Cole McWard, on the other hand, has been decent through his first eight AHL games. While the team’s defence, as a whole, has not been very strong, and giving up a ton of chances, the 21-year-old has held his own while skating alongside Akito Hirose.
On Friday, he grabbed his first AHL goal with a lethal snapshot on the power play. The tally would kick-start four straight goals to lead the Canucks to a 5-2 win.
Ideally, he remains stewing in the American League, seeing time on the special teams and adjusting to the pro level accordingly. However, given the chances he got in pre-season, we wouldn’t be shocked to see him get the call-up, should injuries start to pile up.
Hey, look, we got an Aatu Räty goal!
Unfortunately, it came in the form of an empty-netter.
However, he also managed to pick up a nice assist in the game prior, intercepting an errant pass before delivering a quality feed for his third assist of the year and second of the night.
Räty looked good this week, and as a result of team injuries, received additional minutes all over the lineup.
He continues to spend lots of time on the penalty kill and clearly remains dead focused on the two-way side of things, which is a great thing to see from a young prospect.
With three points and an elevated role, this was by far the best week in his early season. Once the team gets back to full strength, it’s going to be difficult for him to catch any time over the veterans at the top of the lineup, but let’s see how this week progresses.
It’s been a relatively quiet start for Aidan McDonough, however, he managed to score his second goal of the season this week.
The 22-year-old has been skating on the team’s third line all year, so his lack of production isn’t all that surprising. However, he’s been patrolling the secondary power play unit, which we had hoped would offer an additional avenue to net some early half-wall target goals.
At the end of the day, the adjustment to the pro level always comes with an adjustment period, so while we would love for that wicket release to produce more, we aren’t even close to hitting the panic button.
Ty Glover made his Canuck debut over the weekend, which marked the third AHL game of his career.
Although he didn’t see a ton of ice time from the fourth line, his size, and mobility were areas that grabbed our attention. With the team playing again on Tuesday, we would love to get some more looks at him.
Before his call-up, he played in two games with Kalamazoo, where he registered a goal and two assists.
Here is a clip of his first assist in his Kalamazoo debut. That’s one way to make an impression on a fanbase…
And his goal.
To close the AHL out, let’s talk goaltending.
Both Arturs Silovs and Nikita Tolopilo split games this week, and their numbers were quite similar. Silovs secured two wins, while Tolopilo, who faced slightly more shots, went 1-1-0 on the week.
Looking at the bigger picture, it’s becoming increasingly interesting to see how Head Coach Jeremy Colliton will manage this goaltending tandem.
At the start of the season, it was clear that Silovs was the primary option and would receive the majority of starts. However, after just a few games, the Belarusian is quickly proving himself a worthy candidate, potentially hinting at much more upside than originally thought.
Could there be a goalie controversy brewing?
Given the demanding AHL schedule with numerous back-to-back games, the easy answer is that the two simply split starts throughout the year.
However, as we mentioned, Tolopilo is offering tremendously sound efforts early on, so things could get spicy.
As of Monday, here are their numbers:
Tolopilo: 3 games played, 2.65 GAA, .927 save percentage, 2-1-0 record
Silovs: 5 games played, 3.63 GAA, .882 save percentage, 3-1-1 record
Silovs: 5 games played, 3.63 GAA, .882 save percentage, 3-1-1 record
At the end of the day, Silovs will likely get every opportunity to regain his form from the previous season. Nevertheless, it’s certainly something to keep track of over the next few weeks.
Oh, Silovs also grabbed a primary assist this week.
Things need to be cleaned up on the defensive end, but right now, the Abbotsford Canucks are looking good with strong offence and solid goaltending at the helm.
Hugo Gabrielson continues to log significant ice time, playing on the top pairing, and contributing to the penalty kill for Västerviks.
However, with the league’s worst goal differential at an awful minus-18, it’s been a challenge to find any significant positives.
The ice time is nice to see, but we have yet to see anything Blackfish noteworthy, yet.
Elias Pettersson (D-Petey), on the other hand, scored his first goal in the Allsvenskan this week.
Despite the lower level of competition, Pettersson’s progress is encouraging. Västerås does a good job of spreading the defensive minutes around, so he’s been racking up good chunks of ice time and making things count.
Despite showing strong offensive instincts, he has yet to sneak onto either power play unit. We hope that with continued consistency, he finally sneaks on to show what he can do in that department.
His ability to read the game and initiate plays with quick outlet passes is a strong point in his game, and he seems to make good decisions often.
Of course, we wish that this was all happening at the SHL level, but for now, we will take the positive notes from the Allsvenskan.
You can catch him and Jonathan Lekkerimäki playing together from November 9-12, when they suit for Team Sweden in this year’s Five Nation U20 Tournament in Czechia.
It continues to be a quiet year for Canucks prospects over in Finland.
Viktor Perrson is still sidelined with a concussion, while Joni Jurmo’s situation continues to flow in the wrong direction.
Jurmo, who saw a season-low 8:41 of ice time earlier in the week, drew out of the lineup for the first time over the weekend.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the 21-year-old, who has seen stints of time on the second pair but has also been used as the seventh defender.
He’s got just one assist through 17 games, and further to that, he has struggled to piece things together in his fourth season in Liiga.
There are still pieces that we like about him, mainly his creativity and skating abilities, but overall, his processing just hasn’t caught up with the rest of his play.
Jack Malone has found himself in a great situation since transferring over to Boston College this summer, enjoying top-six minutes alongside Cutter Gauthier, Will Smith, Ryan Leonard, and Gabe Perrault – all first-round picks, by the way.
This week, he scored his second and third goals of the year in the same game.
Here is his first – an absolute snipe.
Malone brings some intriguing offensive flair, as seen with his deadly shot in the first clip, and his progress is worth keeping an eye on, especially since he’s in his senior year.
Ty Mueller didn’t record any points and was a dreadful minus-five over the weekend, but he’s an entertaining player to watch.
Known for his agility and craftiness on the offensive end, he seems to be all over the ice and doesn’t shy away from getting into the dirty areas.
Obviously, from a 20-year-old Junior, you want to see more production (just three assists on the year), but we will be keeping tabs on him over the next few weeks in hopes that he brings some clips to the Blackfish report.
Aku Koskenvuo didn’t start for Harvard’s first game of the season. With last year’s undisputed number one, Mitchell Gibson, moving up to the professional level, it will be interesting to see how many starts Koskenvuo sees.
Both Harvard goalies are somewhat inexperienced, yet, Derek Mullahy, his tandem partner, sports an 8-1-3 NCAA record, to go with a flawless 5-0-0 stat line last year. So, while we should see more than his two starts from last season, Koskenvuo’s work is cut out to take over the reins as the Crimsons’ number-one netminder.
Jacob Truscott grabbed two assists over the weekend, bringing him up to six on the year.
Here is a look at one of those two.
The Michigan Wolverines’ captain is maintaining a strong presence on the ice, playing significant minutes, including time on the penalty kill and the secondary power play unit.
It was a quiet weekend for Aiden Celebrini and Tom Willander, at least from a production sense, as both contributed zero points.
However, there are a few aspects to Willander’s game that we wanted to quickly touch on to instill some confidence – especially since he’s only got three points over five games.
Even though his point totals are not indicative, he looks very noticeable.
He’s seeing tons of time on the penalty kill, patrols the secondary power play unit, and at some points in the game, gets the nod to jump up to Lane Hutson’s pairing.
Keep in mind, their top unit on the man advantage is extremely effective, so in many cases, Willander doesn’t even get to touch the ice before they have already netted a PPG.
What stands out is Willander’s ability to play at a high pace and make smart plays, thanks to his excellent awareness. He is constantly scanning the ice and can control the puck, with his his head up, without compromising his speed. His top attribute, and one area that is probably NHL-ready today, is his skating and edgework. Willander navigates the ice like a smooth criminal and walks the line with utmost confidence. It’s really fun to see.
This is a very short glimpse, but it exemplifies the poise he has and the terrific mobility he displays when walking the line.
It sort of reminds you of someone, doesn’t it?
So, even though he may not always hit the scoresheet, just know that he’s looked strong in his showings, and his defensive game continues to gain traction with every game.
The points will come.
Jackson Dorrington is “banged up”, according to their Head Coach, and missed both of Northeastern’s games over the weekend.
Kirill Kudryavtsev bounced back this week, after a few slow Blackfish appearances, in terms of point production.
With back-to-back multipoint outings, he put up two goals and four assists, earning him “OHL Player of the Week” honours!
Here is his first goal, where he slips in from the blue line to slide it five-hole.
He also scored a beautiful game-winning goal in overtime, going coast-to-coast to call the game himself.
With Hunter Brzustewicz firing at a ridiculous clip, the battle between these two prospects has quickly become a one-legged race, but it’s nice to see Kudryavtsev putting points on the board.
He is one of seven OHL defenders to be firing at over a point-per-game clip, and he continues to play in all situations for the Soo Greyhounds.
He appears much more well-rounded than he did last season and looks primed to jump up to the AHL level after this season concludes.
Vilmer Alriksson had a solid week, adding two goals and an assist to his ledger. One of the tallies happened to be his first – yes, his first – goal at even-strength this year.
He has been a power play killer early on, and his five PPGs have him sitting second league-wide (tied) in that regard. Whether it’s utilizing his huge frame as a net-front presence, or ripping half-wall snapshots, he seems to be thriving with the man-advantage.
We ran a small feature on Alriksson at CA earlier this week, but to sum things up: he’s adapted well to the OHL.
Transitioning from the Swedish tier to OHL hockey can be challenging, especially for a tall player accustomed to more time and space on the big European ice surface.
While he may not be lighting the league on fire, he has shown consistency in his game, and his skating is keeping up nicely among the competition. His 6-foot-6 frame and incredible wingspan make him tough to defend, especially among teenagers.
He’s finishing checks and adjusting well, so we aren’t too worried about his lack of production at five-on-five.
Although he’s labelled a “project,” he is proving to be an intriguing one.
Here we go again…
Hunter Brzustewicz added five assists in three games this week, maintaining his lead in the OHL points race.
He sports an incredible 12-game point streak and shows no signs of slowing down.
In fact, after a two-game stint in the AHL, the Kitchener Rangers’ got back some additional firepower in the form of Filip Mešár.
Mešár, a Montreal Canadiens prospect, had 51 points in 52 games last year and is poised to add even more firepower to a Rangers’ team that is scoring at will. He, along with the rest of the team, should keep the good times rolling.
Here is one of Hunter’s assists, where he fed Mešár for a stretch pass.
As we have mentioned in previous Blackfish reports, it’s not just the points that we like from the soon-to-be 19-year-old. He plays sound hockey at both ends of the ice and is earning all the praise given throughout the year.
While it’s not time to rush into NHL expectations just yet, he will be eligible to play AHL games next year, despite being only 19.
Since he’s played two years with the US National program, he is considered to have played four years of Junior hockey at the end of this season, thus, giving him the green light to make the jump.
Until then, we continue to bring you up to speed on his weekly domination of the Ontario Hockey League.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki scored a stunning goal this week, displaying remarkable confidence.
Both Faber and I have discussed Lekkerimäki to exhaustion over the previous few installments, so we won’t go into extensive detail this week – mainly because nothing has changed.
However, this goal exemplifies the confidence we’ve been emphasizing all year long.
It’s a goal that probably wouldn’t have been scored last season, and this is just the result of what confidence and health can do to a player’s game.
He leads the SHL in goals, continues to do what he can at both ends of the ice, and simply looks like a revamped kid.
Lucas Forsell, on the other hand, had another week of limited ice time.
Despite being briefly bumped up to Färjestads’ third line, he only played a total of 18:09 over both of his games combined. He didn’t register any points and ended the week with a minus-one rating.
This marks week one of my “free Lucas” campaign.
Ty Young played only one game this week for the Prince George Cougars, and unfortunately, he suffered his third loss of the season, making 37 saves in a 5-1 defeat.
While he has seven wins this season, his statistics, including a 3.04 goals-against average and a 0.886 save percentage, are not particularly impressive.
The Cougars have been an outright dominant offensive force early in the season, leading the league in goals scored (74) by quite a large margin.
Sure, he has had some good games, but there is no sugar-coating the fact that many of Young’s wins are likely propped up by the team’s strong offensive performances.
As you saw in last week’s Blackfish installment, Sawyer Mynio returned from injury and grabbed his first goal and assist of the year.
He followed that up with two assists this week. Mynio’s skating is very smooth, and he’s eating up tons of minutes as an all-situational defender for the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Mynio is looking poised to be a strong two-way defender for the T-Birds this year and he should be a fun kid to track.
That does it for this week’s Blackfish report.
Please make sure to share your feelings in the comments as I am always willing to chat prospects.
I look forward to delivering you weekly updates!
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