Canucks prospect Josh Bloom impresses in AHL debut on Friday night
By Dave Hall1 month ago
For years, the Vancouver Canucks have faced criticism regarding their shortage of young talent and viable prospects ready for NHL call-ups.
However, now in their third season, the Abbotsford Canucks’ 2023-24 roster offers legitimate hope that we can officially put those doubts to rest.
With an average age of 23 years (and change), they stand out as one of the AHL’s youngest teams, with many of those prospects representing legitimate options to see NHL games at some point this year.
Josh Bloom, who had been a spectator for the club’s first two games last weekend, joined this youth movement on Friday night, making his professional debut in Abbotsford’s home opener — replacing Danila Klimovich, who was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
When asked about his feelings heading into his pro debut, Bloom admitted to some nerves but mentioned that he quickly settled into the game after the initial jitters, finding his rhythm relatively quickly.
“Definitely some nerves, definitely some nerves, but I felt like I got it out of my game early. [I] Kind of found my feet near the middle of the first period and everything kind of rolled from there”
Well, his game certainly did not indicate any nerves.
Right out the gate, Bloom was showcasing his high-motor, never-quit demeanor with which he has built a strong reputation in his past.
Honestly, he looked right at home…
He was injected into the game with a fitting role, tasked with providing a spark for the club while skating alongside Nils Åman and Arshdeep Bains on the team’s third line.
It was the perfect line combination for Bloom’s game to shine.
“Him [Bains] and Åmer [Åman ] were just an absolute treat to play with and made my life so easy and in someone’s debut, so credit to them. They played great. Just fell a little short tonight,” Bloom said post game.
A typical response from a young player making his professional debut, but let’s not cut Bloom’s performance short — he played like a seasoned pro.
Despite being just 20-years-old and fresh from the junior ranks, he displayed a level of grit and composure that felt right at home amongst the pro-level competition.
In his post-game interview, he mentioned that he gained 15–20 pounds in the off-season, in preparation for his first full-time AHL stint, and we absolutely love to hear this.
Adding size to his waterbug mentality is a deadly combination that should do wonders for his game as he transitions, and eventually pushes for elevated roles.
Even head coach Jeremy Colliton was thoroughly impressed with Bloom’s performance and praised Bloom’s skating ability, his ability to create scoring opportunities, and his overall style of play.
“ [I] really like Bloom,” said Colliton. “I thought he skated well and created chances, won some battles and took the back of the net. Played the type of game I was kind of hoping he would play, so that was a good sign.”
Bloom brings a game that fans can really sink their teeth into, and you can already sense him winning over the hearts of the Abbotsford faithful on a nightly basis.
With the Vancouver Canucks taking on heavy criticism over the years due to their lack of intensity and identity, he feels like the perfect addition to the long-term puzzle, and an early candidate to play greasy hockey in a bottom-six role one day.
Let’s take a look at his game
While falling 3-2 to the Calgary Wranglers in their home opener put a damper on the evening, there were tons of things to like from Bloom in his debut.
From the opening faceoff, it was evident that he and his linemates were on a mission, as expected from the three suspects. They buzzed around the ice, created chaos for the opposing team, and forced turnovers, many at the hands of Josh Bloom.
Playing in a line that emphasizes high energy and relentless pressure was a great way to ease Bloom into his transition, allowing him to play the role he is accustomed to.
Right from his first few shifts, you can see him aggressively pressuring the opponents, causing turnovers, and engaging physically. We love his willingness to put his body on the line.
Keep an eye on number 62 in white.
Yeah, he looked right at home.
Bloom spent most of his playing career as a centre but made his pro debut on the wing, which is a common transition for many rookies.
In the next clip, you’ll see Bloom cover for the faceoff and despite losing the draw, jumps into attack mode, forcing a turnover and sets up a chance. While the chance didn’t materialize into a scoring opportunity, his relentless work ethic is what we are focused on here.
On the other end of the ice, Bloom is no slouch when it comes to contributing on the scoresheet.
While earning points at the professional level comes with its challenges, his track record of 68 goals and 146 points in the OHL suggests he has the ability to provide offense.
His offensive skills are closely tied to his relentless work ethic, as his consistent pressure on puck carriers causes many turnovers and chaos in the opposing end, as we saw in the game on Friday.
Although he didn’t directly cause the turnover, his first real opportunity came from hustling into the slot and intercepting a pass, providing a great scoring chance.
Bloom plays with a high level of intensity and pace, as evidenced by this breakaway, and he’s more than capable of carrying that intensity over to the professional level.
All in all, it was a strong showing for the youngster in his debut, offering tons of promise for the future.
Despite their young core, the Abbotsford Canucks are poised to be competitive this season, making a day-to-day roster spot all the more challenging.
Jeremy Colliton did not shy away from expressing his feelings towards the standard he’s hoping to instill this season:
“Well, I mean, we’re fortunate right now, we got a lot of good players and so it’s going to force everyone to play at a high standard, you know, with them without the puck and being competitive and playing for the team doing things, protecting your teammates with how you play. And that’s what we need from everyone. And I think that’s how we’re going to have success this year, both as a team and individually, so that’s kind of standard that’s been laid down.”
As we saw with Danila Klimovich, who was held out of the lineup after providing little-to-no effort in either game last weekend, the club is not going to stand for passengers this season, and consistently bringing your A-game night in and night out will be crucial to stay in the lineup.
However, if Bloom’s debut is any indication, it’s hard to believe that this would be an issue for number 62 – he brings it.
Whether it’s providing a spark by battling in the corners, forcing turnovers to create offensive opportunities, or being a relentless presence on the penalty kill, Josh Bloom looks every bit the part of a future NHL role player and someone who could provide a solid presence for this Abbotsford team’s success.
The Abbotsford Canucks are right back at it on Saturday night, as they host the Calgary Wranglers for game two of their back-to-back weekend showdown. The puck drops at 7:00 PM.
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