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Monday Mailbag: Why Kirill Kudryavtsev is underrated, and the Canucks’ 5-man unit to close out a game

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Faber
By Faber
7 months ago
Welcome to the Monday Mailbag, brought to you by the great folks at Zephyr Epic! Use promo code “HockeySeason” for $5 off your order. Free shipping of trading cards Canada wide on any order over $50 as well! Shop local!
Welcome back to another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy!
We’ve been busy following around prospects in the beautiful city of Penticton as the city hosts the Young Stars invitational tournament. It’s a bit shocking that the South Okanagan Events Centre is a BCHL rink. The facilities here are immaculate and there’s good reason why the Penticton Vees are such a well-run organization.
It’s been great to get back together with fellow media members and we’ve ran into a lot of the prospects’ families — who all seem to be big CanucksArmy readers, so that’s pretty cool.
With this tournament comes the true beginning of the hockey season. The offseason is now behind us. We have Canucks prospects scoring goals with a Canucks logo on their chests and there’s something so beautiful about being back at the rink for work.
Now, we’ve also had some fun over the weekend. You may have caught some of the karaoke videos that were circulating on Twitter late Saturday night, and you’ll see that some of this week’s questions have karaoke add-ins.
One thing is for sure, hockey is back and though the Canucks don’t have a dominant prospect at this tournament, we are seeing some strong performances from the likes of Aidan McDonough, Aatu Räty, Max Sasson, and others here at the tournament. The four-day event wraps up today with the Canucks’ young stars matching up with the Edmonton Oilers.
On top of this wonderful tournament, we are just three sleeps away from the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp kicking off in Victoria.
We will have four full days of on-ice activities and we will have you covered throughout those four days with David Quadrelli and myself on the ground in Victoria to cover the camp.
It’s so close that we can taste it.
So, with all that being said, we’re here for a mailbag and we have some good questions from the wonderful folks of #CanucksTwitter.
Let’s not waste any more words, and instead dive right into the questions that were asked this week.
I prefer to only comment on players that I’ve actually had time to sit down and watch for multiple games.
So, I’ll give you a few names and my quick take on them as we are still very far away from the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.
Macklin Celebrini and Cole Eiserman are going to be very fun to follow this season. Right now, Celebrini is sitting at number one in the consolidated rankings but I’ve really been impressed with Eiserman. He plays tough as hell and has incredible hands in pressure.
There’s a lot of work to do before the 2024 draft but in my early viewings, I’ve been more impressed with Eiserman. I like Calebrini’s shot better than Eiserman’s but it just looks like Eiserman impacts the game on every shift that he plays. Celebrini can explode offensively but I’ve seen a couple of games where he is only a gamebreaker on the power play. Again, it’s very early and I’m talking about 3-8 viewings of these prospects.
I’ve been able to watch a bit of Konsta Helenius out of Finland and he is a commander on the ice, working well in a system while also having the skill to pop off and create with or without teammates. I love how he draws defenders and then dishes to his teammates when a lane presents itself. He’s played a bit on the wing but that was as a 16-year-old in a professional league and for the most part, I’ve seen him play centre. He might push to be a top-five prospect if he has another strong year in Liiga. At 5’11”, he’s not a hulking Finn like we’ve seen in other top-five picks but he moves well and is ultra-skilled.
This Zeev Buium kid was someone who drew my eyes at the U18s. He is an electric skater and works a power play as well as any 17-year-old defenceman I’ve seen in recent memory. Buium is off to the University of Denver this coming season and the NCAA will test his skills early and often. If he thrives in the NCAA, we could be looking at a top-10 pick. Buium is a 5’11”, left-shot defenceman.
The only other prospect I’ve seen multiple times is the 6’2″, right-shot defenceman out of Belarus through the USHL, Artyom Levshunov.
Levshunov is likely going to be the top defenceman selected in the 2024 draft and he just capped off the third-best point-producing season from a draft-minus-one defenceman in USHL history. He can shoot the puck with a ton of power and works the line with suck confidence. His skating is strong, especially for his size. He looks like he could add a ton of lower-body power as he adds muscle and I’d bet that he plays closer to 210 pounds by the time he is ready for the NHL. Levshunov is in a similar situation to Buium and Celebrini as these prospects will play in the NCAA during their draft year. Levshunov is off to Michigan State this season after having 13 goals and 29 assists in 62 USHL games last season.
I’ve been impressed by Braeden Bowman at this tournament. He hasn’t been lighting the scoresheet up but he has good puck skills and has that trait where a player doesn’t need to break stride to gain puck possession on imperfect passes. He’s looked like a player who could play pro hockey right now and feels like a solid depth add for the AHL team.
The Canucks have used Bowman on the power play this past weekend and he has fit right in. Skating is above average at this tournament but as I mentioned earlier, it’s the puck skills that have caught my eye.
I believe Colby Sahaniuk is injured right now but he may play on Monday. Jacob Maillet has been fine but has not really drawn much extra attention from me.
Dalyn Wakely was given a top-six opportunity on Sunday and he didn’t fit in well with his linemates Arshdeep Bains and Aatu Räty.
So, I’d say that Bowman is the invite who has looked the best over the first two games at the Young Stars tournament.
I actually am going to save up for a bit and grab one of these bad boys. They are very fun to ride and help get you to those spots that are too long of a walk and too short to drive.
I’ll be ripping one of these around Vancouver soon and you know I’ll be wearing a helmet. This poor brain of mine can’t take any more hits.
No news on a contract but I’d bet on Dmitri Zlodeyev getting an AHL/ECHL deal in the coming weeks.
He’s here in North America and wants to play for the Abbotsford Canucks. It’s great to have another centre prospect in the system and whether it’s the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings or in Abbotsford, Zlodeyev will be getting consistent ice time here — which is a much better situation than he was experiencing in Russia.
I’d say that Kirill Kudryavtsev is certainly in that group and probably surpassed Lucas Forsell because we have hyped Forsell up enough over the past couple of seasons.
Kudryavtsev looked excellent on Sunday in the Canucks’ game against the Jets. He is confident with the puck and does a great job controlling the pace of play when he is on the ice. Kudryavtsev is going to explode offensively in the OHL this coming season and you will be seeing a lot of clips and reading about him in the Blackfish prospects report.
By the way, Blackfish returns tomorrow and will be back every Thursday for the next 35-40 weeks.
Nikita Tolopilo looks like he will be the backup in Abbotsford.
Thatcher Demko will be the starter in Vancouver.
Then, it’s going to be between Arturs Silovs and Spencer Martin for who will be the backup in Vancouver and who will be the starter in Abbotsford.
My best guess is that Martin will be in the NHL while Silovs goes back to the AHL to continue to develop and begin to show consistency.
Zack Sawchenko will probably bounce between being the AHL and the ECHL or maybe just stick around with Abbotsford as a third goalie.

SPEED ROUND

Not to just be negative media or whatever but I haven’t been that impressed by Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s play at even-strength in his first two SHL games. He does look like he’s added strength from last season and is hitting his shots on the power play but his play without the puck hasn’t blown me away. He’s been fine in his own zone but is still getting pushed off the puck often in the offensive zone at five-on-five. It’s still early and you can’t knock that he’s scored in both of his regular season SHL games — it’s been a good start for sure.
I’ll just throw 22% out there. He’s still going to get a lot of backdoor tap-ins with Elias Pettersson as his centre and Andrei Kuzmenko should once again be picking up 12+ goals on the power play.
I’m trying to get Harman Dayal to learn the Eminem part to ‘I love the way you lie’. I’ll handle the Rihanna part, he can rap the rest.
I’ve never played Puckdoku.
Ilya Mikheyev, Elias Pettersson, Pius Suter would be my forwards. On defence, give me Quinn Hughes and Ian Cole.
The second group is tougher but it would probably have Teddy Blueger, J.T. Miller, Phil Di Giuseppe with Filip Hronek and Carson Soucy.
Well, that wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy. Thanks to all the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter for sending in their questions this week. We will see you next week for a wild mailbag that will come at the conclusion of Canucks training camp.
I have a feeling we will have a lot to talk about next Monday…

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