Photo credit:Nick Barden
Blackfish: Canucks prospects square off, Sawyer Mynio continues to pile up points, and more
By Dave Hall2 months ago
Welcome back to another edition of the Blackfish Prospect report.
As we inch closer to the holiday season, the slate has dwindled, and as a result, it was somewhat of a quiet week in prospect land. Except for the World Junior Championships, which kickstart on Boxing Day, you can expect the same for the next couple of weeks, as teams enjoy a much-needed holiday break.
Looking at this week, Abbotsford had a three-game slate, and we saw a few prospects face off in head-to-head matchups and finally, Sawyer Mynio continued to pile up the points in Seattle.
First, let’s hop into the updated statistics.
As always, we kick things off in Abbotsford, where the team played their first three-game week in over a month.
Unfortunately, it did not as planned.
They dropped two of three games, and in each of their losses, were downright dominated. Whether it was too many – and we mean, way too many – penalties, poor goaltending, or just a lack of effort from the entire group, it was a complete 180-degree shift from what we have been seeing in recent memory.
Looking between the pipes, Artūrs Šilovs got two starts and looked shaky in each, allowing nine goals on 55 shots and losing both outings after getting back-to-back starts. He now finds himself on a three-game losing skid, allowing 12 goals in that span.
Nikita Tolopilo, on the other hand, notched the sixth win of his AHL rookie campaign, stopping 19 of 21 shots. He’s now 4-1-0 over his last five starts.
They have back-to-back midweek games over the following week, so we can probably bet that both of them see some action.
Looking over at the skaters, things were not much better. However, there were a select few who had notable weeks.
First up, we had Aatu Räty, who was one of the few bright spots in the club’s initial loss of the week, scoring two goals, both on the man advantage, by doing some dirty work in the slot. He also added a primary assist on a Sheldon Dries empty-net goal in Saturday’s victory.
Make no mistake about it, Räty has been the Canucks’ most consistent performer in recent memory. Since November 1st, he shares the team lead in points with 13 (six goals and five assists) and has been thriving when placed in a top-six role. There have been games, this week included, where he has slid back to the third line, however, he’s now found a permanent home on the club’s power play unit – a spot he did not see at the beginning of the year – and is used in different situations throughout their games.
Vasily Podkolzin had three points of his own, drawing assists on both of the above Räty goals, while picking up a primary goal on a Cole McWard goal on Saturday.
As he worked on getting his game back to where it was in October, he was somewhat quiet throughout his first few matches back. However, he has turned up the heat as of late and now has seven points over his last eight games – six of which, have come as assists.
While he’s having a tough time getting them past the opposing netminder, he’s taking a ton of shots. In fact, he has led his team in that regard since his return, with 40 shots in 11 games. He posted nine over week, and continues to be a deadly option on the half-wall on the man advantage. Eventually, they are bound to start filling the net.
Jim Rutherford made his rounds around the radio circuit over the week and spoke directly about his feelings toward Podkolzin and their plan with him looking forward.
“He’s played pretty well, we are not going to be in a hurry to bring him back. It’s kind of similar to the Hoglander situation last year. Let him play, and play and play, and then when he gets here, he’s going to have 100% confidence and give him the best chance to succeed here [Vancouver]. I am not saying we’re not going to recall him this year, but we’re not going to be in a hurry to do it,” he told CHEK TV’s Donnie & Dhali.
This comes as no surprise and just reiterates what we expected the plan to be. In our humble opinion, it’s the correct path and what’s best for his future development.
As you saw from the goal above, Cole McWard was back in the lineup, after missing two weeks with what appeared to be an upper-body injury, and potted the second goal of his young AHL career. Receiving a pass from Podkolzin, he caught everyone off guard with a slight pump fake, before ripping home a nice shot from a distance. That’s his fifth point in 19 games.
Arshdeep Bains collected just one assist over the three matches, but it came in tremendous fashion. After letting the boards ring the boards, Bains collected behind the net, before delivering a quick spin-around one-touch pass, finding Linus Karlsson in the slot. The goal held up as the eventual game-winning goal.
After taking the league by storm over his first month or so, he’s been slowing down as of late, at least in the statistical department.
With a whopping 16 points over his first 10 games, he has produced just five over his last 11 and has just 20 shots on the year.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily put a blemish on the excitement that Vancouver should have toward him. His profile caters toward the energy role in the NHL, so he’s still right on track as one of the more probable options for a call-up, if and when the time comes.
He’s fast, he’s got a motor that won’t quit and shows tremendous vision on the ice. His recent struggles are an area worth keeping tabs on, though.
Aidan McDonough picked up a goal and a primary assist over the week, snapping a six-game scoreless drought.
This is the type of goal that we had expected from the 24-year-old, as his shot is his clear go-to threat. Unfortunately, we just have seen it on display often enough throughout the majority of his 18 games. Hopefully, this tally will spark some life into his game, and get him back on track as a rookie, albeit older, skater.
His assist was also quite nice, setting up Marc Gatcomb at even strength.
He’s up to four goals and seven points in his rookie year.
Earlier in the week, the Canucks swapped players, sending 20-year-old Josh Bloom to Kalamazoo to get some reps at the ECHL level.
With just one assist through 14 games in Abbotsford, it was time to get him down to hopefully get some more playing time and gain some much-needed confidence as a young skater within the pipeline.
With a crowded top-nine, Bloom struggled to see significant playing time, so this was probably the best choice for now. He went pointless through two games in the ECHL.
Going the other way, Ty Glover was promoted after dominating down in Kalamazoo for a few weeks now. With 23 points over 15 ECHL games, we have been preaching his name in our Blackfish reports for some time now, so it’s nice to see him get his well-deserved promotion.
He skated in two games, and was a plus-two, but was held off of the scoresheet.
Hunter Brzustewicz picked up another four assists over two games this week.
With his high-scoring teammate, Carson Rehkopf, away with Team Canada, Brzustewicz has evened the playing field, swooping in to tie him for the OHL league lead in points with 55.
With that, he sits just two points shy of his 2021–22 totals (57 points in 68 games) with a little over half the season remaining.
The big matchup this week came between him and his Kitchener Rangers versus Kirill Kudryavtsev and the Soo Greyhounds.
Admittedly, this was one of the worst viewings we’ve had of Hunter thus far.
He was a little too lackadaisical with the puck and delivered quite a few unnecessary turnovers, some of which were direct causes of goals the other way.
Like this, for example.
Later in that game, he got a little too cute in his own zone, which led to a turnover in the neutral zone, which ultimately led to his fellow Canucks prospect (Kudryavtsev) to activate shorthanded and fire it short side for his fourth goal of the season.
That was one of two points for Kirill Kudryavtsev over the week.
His Greyhounds have climbed the OHL ladder and now find themselves the top-ranked team in the league, two spots over Brzustewicz’s Kitchener squad.
At the beginning of the year, we called that these two defenders would be in the race for the defenceman scoring race, and as we hit the OHL Christmas break, the race looks as follows:
Hunter Brzustewicz: 34 GP, 7G, 48A, 55 PTS – First among defenders.
Kirill Kudryavtsev: 33 GP, 4G, 23A, 27 PTS – (tied) 10th among defenders.
Kirill Kudryavtsev: 33 GP, 4G, 23A, 27 PTS – (tied) 10th among defenders.
Vilmer Alriksson picked up a single assist through three games this week.
The towering Swede enters the Christmas break sporting an impressive first half in his adjustment to a new country and playing style. He’s up to 20 points (7G + 13A) through 33 games, with 13 of those points coming at even strength.
His toolkit covers a wide spectrum and classifies as “good, not great” in nearly every checkbox. Undoubtedly, he has size, and his heavy frame, and more importantly, his long reach, have been prominent tools against his U20 competition. His long reach allows him to make clever plays on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ice, and his hands are beginning to come together to create some fantastic highlight reel plays.
Assuming he continues to develop strongly, we wonder if there is a chance that we see him represent Sweden in next year’s World Juniors…
Elias Pettersson suited up in one final match before travelling to join Team Sweden, and it happened to be against Hugo Gabrielson, who had been on quite the run as of late.
The game did not disappoint.
Pettersson was bumped up to his club’s first pairing for the first time and skated a season-high 22:45 minutes.
Some of those minutes were a result of his overtime utilization, where he started and finished the extra-time frame.
Following his one-minute overtime shift, which saw him and his two forwards dominate much of the frame’s possession time, EP26 went to work to close the game out.
It began with a regroup give-and-go and a breakaway, nearly sealing the game himself. Circling back, Pettersson got back into position and rifled a heavy one-timer, which rang off the post, sending the netminder into a panic.
Collecting the rebound, he delivered an easy pass, turned to the bench, and collected his ninth point of the year with his head turned.
He now heads to join his U20 national team, where he and his fellow Canucks prospects (Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Tom Willander) are set to open their exhibition slate on Tuesday morning against the Swiss.
Here is Sweden’s exhibition schedule for those interested in tuning in:
Tuesday, December 19: 7:30 AM (PST)
Thursday, December 21: 9:00 AM (PST)
Thursday, December 21: 9:00 AM (PST)
On the other end of that game was Gabrielson, who came in sporting a six-game point streak, as well as a three-game goalscoring streak.
He kept one of those streaks alive, notching two assists to not only extend it to seven games but also leapfrog his Allsvenskan career highs (six) and now has nine points on the season.
The 21-year-old is getting good minutes on a team that sits second to last in the Allsvenskan. His recent outpour of points is a nice touch, especially since most of his intriguing tools come in the offensive department. Still, looking at his game and backing it up with his numbers, it’s difficult to assume that his potential is anything truly worth noting in this pipeline.
He’s a decent skater and boasts a heavy shot from the point. However, he does not contribute significantly in the peripheral department, and it’s just difficult to see any scenario where he leapfrogs any of the club’s defenders within the depth chart.
Unfortunately, his point streak was ended in his next game and was snapped at six games – what a run.
Don’t look now, but Sawyer Mynio sits just outside the top 10 in WHL defender scoring.
Adding another four points this week, which included a two-goal, three-point performance, he’s now firing at 20 points over 24 games.
Here are all three of his points from Tuesday evening.
His booming shot has been on display all year, and he grabbed two additional one-timer goals here. We are also impressed with his assist, as he outwaits the netminder, before delivering a cross-crease feed for an easy deflection goal.
He currently sits fourth in goals by defenders, five of which have come on the man-advantage. In fact, skating on Seattle’s top unit, more than half of his points (12) have come from the man advantage.
Do we like a defenceman grabbing the majority of his points on the power play? Maybe not.
However, the type of plays he is making right now is an encouraging step in his development, as this type of offence was simply not advertised when he was drafted in the third round. The Canucks saw something in his game that other teams did not, and whoever the scout was that stood up to fight for this pick, should be doing cartwheels right now.
So far, he’s delivering strong value for a third-round pick.
The Seattle Thunderbirds are struggling at the moment, wrapping up the first half with a 12-15-2-0 record, sitting ninth in the Western Conference, but Mynio has taken some nice steps so far and is focused on getting this team back on track, after going to the Championships two years running.
Ty Young stopped 25 of 28 shots to collect his 12th win of the season, backstopping one of Prince George Cougars’ three games this week. As we touched on last week (here), Young has seemingly lost the starting job to rookie, Joshua Ravensbergen, who has taken the WHL by storm.
The Canucks goaltending prospects sports a 12-6-0 record, along with a 3.28 goals against and 0.879 save percentage, with one shutout in the first half of the season.
That will do it for this installment, look out for a brief update next week, as the remaining teams play out their final few games before Christmas.
See you next week.
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