Chase Wouters is finding a home in Abbotsford as a trusty AHL centreman
By Faber1 year ago
Through his strong defensive play and growing trust from the coach, the Abbotsford Canucks are finding value in rookie AHL centre Chase Wouters.
As the most commonly mispronounced name in the AHL, Chase Wouters (pronounced “Waters”) has been a shining light on the farm this year. Coming off of his third year as captain of the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL, Wouters signed an AHL contract with the Canucks after going undrafted in his illustrious junior career.
“I came in here just trying to make myself part of the part of the Canucks organization,” said Wouters when asked about what his thoughts are about being a professional hockey player at the halfway point of his season.
“I’ve adjusted to the strength and the speed out there a little bit more than I was at the start of the season,” said Wouters. “I’m trying to figure out my game here and it’s been really good. There are a lot of great teammates that help the young guys here and our coaching staff is great on that too. So, if this is the halfway mark, I think it’s been good so far.”
Wouters hasn’t lit up the scoresheets in a way that would gain any attention. His strong play comes from good quality defensive play and knowing when to strike offensively. Abbotsford Canucks’ head coach Trent Cull believes he has found the best way to get value out of Wouters in his lineup and that role is likely to continue to grow as Wouters’ pro career goes on.
“Chase has kind of found that niche in the PK,” said Cull. “I like him there, I think he’s a consistent worker. The kid works really hard out there for us and I appreciate that. That work doesn’t show up on the scoresheet, and I try to reward him because I think that’s the right message for those guys. Players like that are working for their team, not necessarily for themselves at all. He has a selfless way of playing, he blocks a lot of shots and does a lot of yeoman’s work for us on that PK. I’m really happy with his young career so far.”
Wouters is being trusted to kill penalties on a consistent basis and though he began the year as a centre, he is now showing that he can play on the wing if needed as well. His current linemate and fellow centre John Stevens appreciates having a right-shot centre as a winger. Stevens says that the two can coordinate how to attack faceoffs and like to use both players depending on which side the faceoff is on.
Stevens has been with the Canucks’ organization for a couple of years now. He is a former captain at Northeastern University and recognizes why and how Wouters became a three-year captain in the WHL.
“As soon as you spend some time with him, you pick up on that right away,” said Stevens when asked about Wouters as a leader. “He works hard. He’s very humble and we all respect him a lot, even as a young guy. His character is just through the roof, he’s such a good kid and works so hard. If you spend a little bit of time with him, you pick up on it pretty quick.”
It’s not like Wouters is a major slouch on offence as well. When an opportunity presents itself, Wouters is able to take advantage.
He has been shooting the puck more and more as the season goes on and beginning to develop some confidence as pucks begin to find the back of the net more often.
“I was getting to scoring areas earlier in the year but I was a little hesitant,” said Wouters. “I was trying to make plays but now it feels like every night I’m gaining confidence in my shot and my ability to shoot.”
Through 31 games, Wouters has scored three goals and added four assists. He is playing some of his best hockey of late and has a goal and two assists in his last two games with the Canucks.
The season is going great for an undrafted WHLer who is finding his spot here with the Abbotsford Canucks. Wouters’ confidence growing is giving him more opportunities from the coach and he is making the most of those opportunities by showing well on the penalty kill and also shooting the puck with more confidence.
Wouters is willing to drop the gloves when needed and is always there to stick up for a teammate. He’s learning and showing to be more physical but is really finding his form as a defensive centre in the AHL.
The Canucks’ AHL team has struggled to find and keep centres over the past few years and Wouters, as a right-shot centre, is a piece they will hope to have for years to come. Luckily, they have him now and are hoping to develop Wouters into a prospect that has a chance to play NHL games down the road. For now, he is a trustworthy piece to have out in Abbotsford and he is playing a key role for the Canucks.
Everything is flowing nicely for Chase Wouters.
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