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Blackfish: Ty Mueller grabs a prestigious nomination, Aku Koskenvuo stays hot, and Abbotsford battles in three games

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Photo credit:Nick Barden
Dave Hall
26 days ago
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Welcome back to another week of the Blackfish Prospect Report.
Except for a busy three-game week for the Abbotsford Canucks, it was a relatively tranquil week for Canuck prospects. Ty Mueller secured his second consecutive Hobey Baker nomination, Aku Kosvenkuo extended his recent streak, and a trio of NCAA skaters squared off against each other.
As always, we start the week off with our updated statistics.

AHL

The Abbotsford Canucks spent the week on the road, touching down in San Diego for a lone match before venturing to Bakersfield for a doubleheader against the Condors.
Arshdeep Bains remains in excellent form, securing another three points – one in each game – for the Canucks.
He concluded the week with an overtime assist, subtly selling a shot before slipping the puck through to Max Sasson, who scored the game-clinching goal to split the two-game series with Bakersfield.
He ranks sixth league-wide with 38 points on the year and maintains a point-per-game pace in his second pro season. He continues to lead the team in various aspects, including points, primary assists, and power play points.
He will participate in Abbotsford’s final two home games this weekend before heading to San Jose to represent the club at this year’s All-Star event.
Max Sasson, the overtime hero, also notched three points, contributing two assists, and the above was shown during the week. He also delivered some serious sauce to Vasily Podkolzin for the first of three goals for the Russian winger.
We have a feature solely devoted to Podkolzin’s weekend, so be sure to check for that here at CanucksArmy.
Sasson ranks third on the team in point totals, just one point shy of a group of players at the 25-point mark in Abbotsford.
What’s impressive about Sasson’s rookie year is that he continues to demonstrate his skills at even strength, leading the team with nine even-strength goals and holding the second position with 0.55 5v5 points/game.
They may not have been the most impactful assists, but Aatu Räty secured a pair of points, bringing him to three in four games.
As a result of serving primarily as a third-line option recently, the second half of the season has been relatively slow statically for the 21-year-old thus far. Nevertheless, he shares the second-highest point total on the team with 25, with 11 of them being secondary assists.
I hopped on the Canucks Conversation podcast with David Quadrelli and Harman Dayal last week and expressed my concerns with his game. Not necessarily his projectable top-six ability, because he still carries that, but more toward his future as a centre. His skating just doesn’t feel up to snuff, and he’s just not driving the play you’d like your centre to be doing. He’s terrific at faceoffs and solid on the defensive side of the puck, but I’m far more sold on his ability to contribute from the wing.
Filip Johansson scored his third goal of the year, thanks to a squeaky goal that Jack Campbell almost certainly wants back. Unfortunately, later in the period, his head was driven into the boards, and he did not return to the game, or dress in their second game on Saturday night.
The team does not play until Friday night, so there is a good chunk of time before we will get an update on his status, if one is needed.
It looks like you can add him the everlasting revolving door of injuries to this Abbotsford team.
After snagging his first of the season last week, Danila Klimovich picked up his second of the year. This time, in true Klimovich fashion, with a heavy wrist shot from a distance to find the top corner.
It was his lone point over the team’s three games, but the goal, combined with his nine shots, is a welcomed development toward his struggling season. While he continues to see fourth-line minutes, the 21-year-old was awarded some power play time this week, which appeared to have worked as the team scored three goals off the man advantage over the weekend, something that just hasn’t been a part of their game this year.
He’s starting to gain confidence and is now being awarded some additional time. Let’s hope he can continue to build off this small baby step.
Arturs Silovs saw starts in all three games this week and has now started in all four of Abbotsford’s games. He played quite well. Allowing just 10 goals with a 2-0-1-1 record.
It’s been tough to truly peg last year’s Abbotsford Canuck standout. At times, he feels strong and confident, but in others, he appears extremely shaky and unsure of his position in the net. He’s still carrying tons of potential, it’s just been an up-and-down year for his game.

OHL

Kirill Kudryavtsev takes this week’s OHL spotlight for the first time this season.
He collected a trio of assists in one of his two games, including this tremendous outlet pass to Spring Gavin Hayes for his third assist of the match.
His 32 assists now sit sixth among all OHL defenders and second among his Soo Greyhound teammates. Meanwhile, his plus-26 on the season sits eighth among OHL defenders – the stat we truly care about right now.
With the regular season nearing its final stretch, we begin to look at next year’s lineup projections, and Kirill Kudryavtsev falls in an interesting spot.
With Christian Wolanin still signed, plus the additions of Elias Pettersson and potentially Jacob Truscott, I’ve begun to ponder where the opportunity for Kudryavtsev lies, and wonder if he’s best served riding out his final year of OHL eligibility.
Based on what was seen from training camp, I essentially carved out a spot in Abbotsford for him next season, and do think that his game is ready to test out at the pro level.
He has a strong two-way ability, and I’ve enjoyed his active stick and aggressive approach to shutting down opponents.
At the end of the day, it’s all about opportunity.
Now, this is also assuming Wolanin doesn’t jump up to the big club, or a deal isn’t made. Perhaps he stays pro and mimics Josh Bloom’s pathway, which was a split between the AHL/ECHL? Given their injury history, there is sure to be an opening at some point.
We will do a roster breakdown in future days, but it is something that I have started to question. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comment sections.
Hunter Brzustewicz missed his first match of the 2023-24 campaign due to personal reasons.
He returned to the Kitchener lineup on Saturday for his lone match of the weekend but was held pointless for the second consecutive match. His spot as the league leader has drifted away, as he finds himself four points shy of Anthony Romani, who sits at 73 points on the season.
Josh Bloom continued to put up points in return to the OHL, contributing his second goal of the season and another assist to boot. He’s up to nine points over 11 games, playing top-line minutes in Saginaw.
It’s been a quiet few weeks for our import prospect, Vilmer Alriksson, who finds himself pointless through five games now.

SHL/Allsvenskan

It was a slow week in Sweden all around.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s Örebro squad continues to face its challenges in adjusting to their new head coach, scoring only four goals and a shootout “goal” in three games this week, making it just four goals in five games since the coaching change.
The 19-year-old forward contributed to half of those goals at least, registering a primary and a secondary assist during the week. Lekkerimäki has a season total of 10 goals and 19 points through 31 games and sits third on his team in both regards.
Örebro currently occupies a narrow spot in the playoff picture, but they are just barely hanging on.
Unfortunately, Lucas Forsell continues to face challenges in the SHL, with limited ice time once again. Heck, he saw less than six minutes in one of his matches over the week.
He has only managed a single goal and three points in 32 low-utilized games.
Farjestad is a strong team which sits second in the SHL. With that in mind, it’s not uncommon for a 20-year-old to see this type of low usage.
Even so, it’s frustrating to witness the development fall off a cliff following a strong season as a 19-year-old. Whether it’s with his current team or on loan to another team – a la Elias Pettersson (D) – it would be sure nice to see him get some solid minutes.
While most Canuck prospects are experiencing positive developments in the 2023-24 season, Forsell’s situation remains a gloomy concern.

NCAA

It’s been an eventful few weeks for Nebraska-Omaha’s top player, Ty Mueller. From being named NCHC Player of the Week to registering 10 points in eight games, and now receiving a Hobey Baker nomination.
For the second year in a row, Mueller has been named as a nominee for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award. Of course, this is just the first of three stages of the voting process, to which he was named with 80 other players, but it’s significant nonetheless.
Fans can take part in the voting process by going to the Hobey Baker official website.
He contributed another two assists over a pair of games this weekend, putting him up to 21 points and is currently riding a seven-game point streak.
He also scored his first shootout goal, in his first-ever attempt.
Jackson Dorrington picked up his fourth goal of the season with a nasty snapshot from the point. Despite being primarily a shutdown defender, this kid sure knows how to score beautiful goals. He was also a plus-four on the week and currently sits second on Northeastern with a plus-11 plus/minus rating.
Faber provided a nice montage showcasing some of his best physical plays of the season, and looking forward, that’s what you can expect a ton of – shutdown, rugged hockey.
But the highlight goals are always a nice touch.
I’ve received questions regarding his timeline and if a pro contract could be in the near future, but it seems unlikely.
In addition to the lack of opportunity on the left side, there is still some work to be considered a pro-ready prospect, even if he’s taken solid strides in nearly every department.
This weekend featured one of the more anticipated college hockey matchups, with the top-ranked Boston College, featuring Jack Malone, facing off against the second-ranked – now ranked third – Boston University, which includes Tom Willander and Aiden Celebrini.
On the BU side, Celebrini picked up the lone assist (secondary) between the two, as he and Willander’s team were kept at bay for much of the pair of games.
Malone also contributed with an assist in this heavyweight matchup, with a primary goal on an empty net goal.
This sets the stage for next week, where the two teams will face each other again in this year’s Beanpot tournament.
Here is the schedule for the Semifinals matchups:
Semifinals – Monday, February 5th.
2:00 PM (PST) – Northeastern (Jackson Dorrington) vs. Harvard (Aku Koskenvuo).
5:00 PM (PST) – Boston University (Tom Willander & Aiden Celebrini) vs. Boston College (Jack Malone).
Aku Koskenvuo will also be at the Beanpot tournament, and he’s coming off yet another victory.
He made 34 saves to secure his third consecutive win, bringing his record to 3-4-2 on the year. After a winless opening seven games and a forgettable statistical ledger, he’s managed to improve his goals-against average above .900.
So far, 2024 has been the year of Aku.
Jackson Kunz, who has earned a spot on North Dakota’s top power play unit as the net front presence, scored his second goal of the season over the weekend.
Kunz has been gaining traction lately, and his strong play earned him a spot on the team’s top line for a period.
“He’s finding his way right now; he’s playing his best hockey right now,” said UND’s head coach Brad Berry. “You have to reward guys like that when they’re feeling it, and they’re doing a great job.”
While it likely won’t earn him a contract after this year, he is a property of the Canucks until August 2025. Let’s hope he can continue progressing over the next year and a half.
No points for Jacob Truscott this weekend, but there’s encouraging news regarding his contract negotiations.
As we’ve discussed in previous Blackfish updates, it seems that he is not looking to take part in contract talks until the season wraps up, as the Michigan captains focused on his final year.
Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali — The Team shared insights on Sportsnet’s Halford and Brough show on Friday.
“Expect talks to surface when his season is over,” Dhaliwal said. “Everything is positive here, and I believe both sides want to get a signing done as of right now.”
While this isn’t groundbreaking news or anything we haven’t heard before, it’s a positive sign that things seem to be in good order and moving toward a contract. The Canucks have a tremendous rapport with NCAA players, so as of today, there does not appear to be anything to worry about.
There is a strong possibility that we’ll see Elias Pettersson and Jacob Truscott patrolling the blue line at the Abbotsford Centre in just a few weeks.
Daimon Gardner picked up an assist over the weekend.

WHL

Sawyer Mynio reached the 10-goal mark for the season with a wrist shot that trickled past the Wenatchee netminder.
Despite the Seattle Thunderbirds struggling this season, Mynio has been a reliable contributor, serving as a minute-muncher for the team.
His plus/minus column has seen a notable decline, going from a plus-50 last year to a current minus-4. However, when compared to his other defensive teammates, who are a combined minus-82, Mynio has been one of the team’s best stars and is on the ice for far fewer goals than the rest of the team.
18 of Mynio’s current 33 points have come from the power play, making his overall differential even more impressive.
He also leads his Thunderbirds with 114 shots on net, so we love the volume of shots coming from this previously touted defensive-minded rearguard.
It’s been nothing but up for Mynio in his draft plus one season.
That’s a wrap on another report for the week. Please feel free to drop a comment on a prospect you would like to know more about or any topics that you had in mind for next week’s instalment.

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