Canucks not expected to sign Jacob Truscott: What it means for their prospect plans

Photo credit:@jacob_truscott20 on IG
Dave Hall
2 months ago
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Drafting prospects out of college presents both challenges and advantages for NHL organizations.
On one hand, it hands significant power to the player, who can choose to remain in school and ultimately decide their path as an unrestricted free agent. As a result, this flexibility can lead to the player opting to sign with a different organization, rendering the draft pick useless.
On the other, however, it can also offer long-term benefits for NHL teams. The added time allows the opportunity to closely monitor the player’s development over multiple seasons, allowing the team to evaluate their prospect’s progress and make informed decisions about their future with the organization.
After four years, it appears the Vancouver Canucks may have made their informed decision on one of their 21-year-old collegiate prospects.
According to a report by Rick Dhaliwal of CHEK TV’s Donnie and Dhali, the Canucks may have decided against signing Jacob Truscott, their fifth-round pick from the 2020 draft.
As a result, Truscott will now have the opportunity to explore the market and seek out a team that offers him the chance to sign an entry-level contract.
Now in his fourth and final season with the Michigan Wolverines, Truscott has worked his way up the defensive ladder and has blossomed into a well-versed, defensive-minded stalwart, serving as team captain for his home state team.
Last season marked a significant leap in his development, as he was handed his first taste of top pairing minutes and flourished alongside New Jersey Devils rookie Luke Hughes.
Despite suffering a season-ending leg injury midway through the year, he enjoyed a major uptick in his statistical output, collecting 16 points in 23 games and falling just one point shy of his past career high of 17 points over 40 games.
This year, Truscott continues to log over 20 minutes per game, anchoring the team’s top pair while manning the top penalty-killing unit. Despite being on pace to potentially set a new career high again, with two goals and 13 points in 28 games, his overall game hasn’t seen the year-to-year progression we anticipated following his breakout season last year.
Overall, he is regarded as an effective and reliable defenceman, characterized by simplicity and effectiveness. While he may not possess elite attributes, he shows good skating, terrific shutdown ability, and a passable transitional game.
The issue, however, lies in his overall upside, which doesn’t necessarily carry out anything further than a bottom-pairing defensive defender. At this point, the Canucks brass may feel confident in their ability to cover their bases without him.
So, what does this mean for the overall picture within the Canucks’ depth chart?
Stockpiling prospects is always a good idea, and it’s not often that you hear a General Manager complain about having “too many prospects,” especially if they can play shutdown roles on the backend.
However, after a few strong drafts and some additional college signings, the Canucks find themselves in a relatively good position moving forward.
In terms of left-side defensive options, the Canucks have two players under contract for the 2024-25 season slated to play in Abbotsford: veteran Christian Wolanin and last year’s NCAA signing, Akito Hirose.
While either player can make the jump to Vancouver, they will likely anchor spots on the backend in Abbotsford, instantly taking up two spots on the left side.
Additionally, the Canucks have some flexibility in the form of unrestricted free agent (UFA) signings. Both Matt Irwin and recently acquired Nick Cicek are up for renewals.
Although Irwin, a native of Victoria, may be considered past his prime at 36 years old, his experience provides valuable depth and leadership to a relatively young defensive corps. He has contributed two goals and nine points across 39 games and can jump up to the NHL to provide depth in a much-needed pinch.
Meanwhile, Nick Cicek also serves as a depth defenceman for the Canucks, but his contributions have been limited this season. With just two goals, four points, and a minus-two rating, he hasn’t made a significant impact on the stat sheet.
The important element to consider is the potential of the organization’s younger reinforcements.
Patrik Allvin has hinted at the arrival of Elias Pettersson, a defenceman drafted in the third round in 2022, following the conclusion of his current season in the Allsvenskan league. Currently playing for Västerås, his team is approaching the end of their regular season with only seven games remaining and sitting outside of playoff contention.
With their final game slated for March. 8th, there is a strong possibility that we see him cross the Atlantic to join Abbotsford for their final push toward a playoff spot.
Pettersson is already signed to his entry-level contract and is anticipated to play a significant role in Abbotsford’s top-four defensive unit next season. With his defensive prowess and penalty-killing abilities, he is expected to be heavily utilized, potentially filling a role similar to what Jacob Truscott would have occupied.
Additionally, there is 19-year-old defenceman Kirill Kudryavtsev, who has been shouldering heavy minutes for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL.
Kudryavtsev, known as a versatile two-way defenceman, currently leads the Greyhounds’ defensive corps with 39 points in 52 games. Not only can he provide offensively, but he also plays in all situations, showcasing an ability to contribute to special teams while logging substantial ice time on their top pair. He brings a high hockey IQ and is aggressive in his gap controls and reads.
Having accumulated three years and 187 OHL games, Kudryavtsev boasts a 0.68 point-per-game pace and a plus-21 rating and has proved himself as a minute muncher at the Junior level. While there is the possibility of returning for his last year of eligibility, he is likely more than ready to jump to the pro circuit as soon as next season.
The final piece to the puzzle lies in the emergence of recently drafted defenceman Sawyer Mynio.
Drafted as a penalty-killing shutdown defender, Mynio possesses a profile similar to Truscott’s. The key difference, however, lies in Mynio’s incredible surge as an offensively productive minute muncher, skyrocketing him up the depth chart.
Playing top-line everything, he currently sits second on the Seattle Thunderbirds with 39 points in 46 games and has offered considerable growth in his draft-plus-one season.
Although Mynio, 18, is not eligible to join the Abbotsford Canucks until the spring of 2025, his impressive performance raises the likelihood of him earning the opportunity to make the jump to professional hockey at the end of next season.
Ultimately, deciding to part ways with a promising young prospect like Jacob Truscott is never easy. However, when considering the emergence of highly talented and ready prospects such as Elias Pettersson, Kirill Kudryavtsev, and Sawyer Mynio, who are all vying for immediate — or near immediate — roles at the professional level, it becomes a more feasible choice for the Canucks.
While Truscott showed potential, he may have failed to find a seat in the game of musical chairs.
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