Blackfish: CanucksArmy Prospect Report – June 15th, 2022
Photo credit:Nick Barden
By Faber9 months ago
It’s the return of the Blackfish prospect report!
We will make this more of a regular occurrence when the prospects’ seasons are cranking up but for now, let’s just get some offseason updates on some of the Canucks’ prospects.
Connor Lockhart, RW/C
There’s going to be a fire under Connor Lockhart next season. The pesky winger had big expectations for himself last season and didn’t exactly get to showcase his skill at a high level.
Lockhart found himself on an Erie Otters team that was not a good team last year. The Canucks prospect was the only drafted player on the entire roster and struggled to find consistent chemistry with a variety of linemates this past season.
Lockhart was a bit surprised last year when the Canucks asked him to play centre at training camp but he loved the challenge and will likely be playing some centre at the Canucks’ development camp in July.
We really like his pace at training camp and hope that he can get a chance with some better linemates next season to be able to prove his worth and potentially earn a shot to join the Abbotsford Canucks.
Arshdeep Bains, LW
Coming off a season where he led the WHL in scoring, Surrey-born Arshdeep Bains is ready to put in his hometown colours and get to work.
Bains’ game blossomed during his time with the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL. Owner, president, general manager, and former coach Brent Sutter gave us his stamp of approval on Bains’ work ethic and has high expectations for the local prospect.
Bains will be at Canucks development camp in July and should be able to earn himself a job in the Abbotsford Canucks’ bottom six.
It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to professional hockey.
Viktor Persson, RD
We’re not even sure if Viktor Persson knows where he is going to play hockey next season. He has options back in Sweden and is coming off a WHL season where he was sturdy but not exactly what we were hoping for from the 20-year-old Swedish defenceman.
The most ideal situation is keeping Persson in North America because he played well enough to earn a contract and a chance to compete for a spot out in Abbotsford.
Unfortunately, that’s not set in stone. The Canucks retain his signing rights until June 1st, 2024. His signing situation on the Canucks’ reserve list allows some flexibility and the ability to not rush him into a league he is not ready for. Persson might need another year or two in Sweden before the Canucks attempt to bring him into the AHL.
This is our expectation but he could still get himself a contract to come play with the Abbotsford Canucks this season. His transition to North America went alright and the organization may believe that the best path for his development is to stay here and work his way into some minutes out in Abbotsford.
It may be a tough road that sees healthy scratches along the way if he stays and plays with Abbotsford.
The best path of development may be to return to Sweden and try his hand in the SHL.
There’s hype around what Aidan McDonough is going to look like at the Canucks’ development camp in mid-July.
For now, he is coming off a season where he was second in the NCAA for goals and is on the shortlist for the Hobey Baker in 2022-23.
McDonough is ready to finish strong at Northeastern and make the jump to pro hockey.
His presence should immediately make an impact at the AHL level and we are excited for him to eat up a lot of these Blackfish articles throughout his NCAA season.
McDonough is currently taking summer classes at Northeastern to get a softer course load for the hockey season.
He will be at Canucks development out at UBC from July 10-15th.
Danila Klimovich has been spending his offseason in Vancouver and is preparing for development camp.
His agent, Dan Milstein confirmed it to CanucksArmy last week when we saw his name pop up on a roster of a Russian three-on-three tournament.
“He is in Vancouver and plans to stay here to train,” said Milstein.
CanucksArmy has learned that Klimovich has been training in Delta and working out with NHLers like Alex Tuch, Kyle Burroughs, Ty Smith, and Brendan Gallagher.
The only update we have on Jack Rathbone is that he aced early on in the offseason while playing a round with fellow Canuck Conor Garland.
Rathbone told CanucksArmy that the yardage on that ace was 148.
There are questions about where Will Lockwood will fit in the Canucks’ organization next year.
He showed well last season in the AHL and has proven that he can be a standout at training camp. This fall, he has a chance to work his way into the NHL out of camp as there will be jobs to be won in the bottom six.
Lockwood has added penalty-killing experience at the AHL to his tool belt and was able to show head coach Bruce Boudreau what he is all about at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
We expect to see a motivated Lockwood at training camp this fall and if he shows as well as he did at the most recent training camp, he should be able to leave camp as a Vancouver Canuck.
Lockwood is back home in Michigan and told CanucksArmy that he is looking at buying a house with Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Nick Blankenburg.
Aku Koskenvuo, G
This year is going to be a big transition for Aku Koskenvuo.
The 6’4”, 19-year-old goaltender is set to join Harvard next year and will fight to become the starter for the Crimson.
Harvard had a young team last year but is returning their starting goalie Mitchell Gibson — who is a Washington Capitals draft pick.
It will be a tough road for Koskenvuo to earn the starting job but the hope is that he can make things interesting this season and push for the starting job for the 2023-24 season.
Koskenvuo finished his Finnish U20 season with a 13-10-0 record but was perfect in international U20 play with Finland, where he stopped all 47 shots he faced over two games.
There’s a lot of raw talent in Koskenvuo’s game and he perfectly fits the mould of an “Ian Clark style” goalie.
Brian Robinson will be his goalie coach at Harvard but you’d expect that Ian Clark and Curtis Sanford will spend a lot of time attempting to help develop the young goaltender.
He is the fastest-rising Canucks prospect and has given us a lot of excitement to see what the 18-year-old Swedish winger can do at Canucks development camp.
Lucas Forsell played in 30 SHL games last season and showed that he belongs in Sweden’s top league. Forsell has inked a two-year deal with Färjestad and will surely benefit from the Canucks’ addition to their development team with Mikael Samuelsson.
Forsell had an injured thumb for the SHL playoffs but had the cast taken off a couple of weeks ago and has returned to training. He said that he worked hard on his lower body through the injury and learned a lot from being able to be around his SHL team for their run to a playoff championship.
His pace and play with the puck should stick out at development camp. It’ll be interesting to see how he stacks up against the older, more developed prospects like Linus Karlsson, Aidan McDonough and Arshdeep Bains.
We believe that the organization was pleased with Jonathan Myrenberg’s 2021-22 season.
Myrenberg played in 15 SHL games this past season and is on Sweden’s radar for the 2023 World Junior Championships.
SHL sources we spoke with said that he fit right in physically, impressed with his poise as well as with his puck-moving ability.
Myrenberg has been confirmed to be loaned to the Swedish second-division next year and should be a top defenceman on his Allsvenskan team if he continues to develop at his current rate.
Allsvenskan (Sweden 2nd tier)
It was a tough adjustment to pro hockey for Hugo Gabrielson and his offseason isn’t going to be any easier.
Gabrielson will undergo shoulder surgery and has a six-month timeline for his return. He is hoping to be back to action a couple of months into the Allsvenskan season.
We will continue to post the Blackfish series periodically in the offseason but have plans to make it a regular feature on CanucksArmy once the NCAA, CHL, AHL and European leagues begin.
I’m excited to carry the torch for the Blackfish report as it was always one of my favourite series’ here at CanucksArmy when I was just a reader.
Happy summer, y’all.
We are only 22 days away from adding more prospects to the pipeline!
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