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Monday Mailbag: The World Junior Summer Showcase, Vasily PK-olzin, and which prospect will get the longest preseason look?

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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!
Hopefully, you all made it home safe from Seattle after Western Canada took over the Emerald City over the weekend. Editor’s Note: to watch Toronto’s baseball team blow multiple leads and nearly get swept by the Seattle Mariners.
Between the Toronto Blue Jays fans and Swifties, we were shoulder to shoulder in the streets and were sure to get the garlic fries down at T-Mobile Park. Which, by the way, have gone incredibly downhill since the last time I’ve had them. I tried both the waffle and regular garlic fries and it was a major letdown. When I was a kid, the garlic fries were unrivaled as the best sporting event food out there. Now, we’ve got three-foot hotdogs, Korean BBQ poutines, and so many other good options. The garlic fries were cold and they just didn’t hit like they used to.
The good news is that on the drive home, I picked up some Tillamook cheese, American-only Gatorades, and a bunch of cool stuff from Trader Joe’s.
On the Canucks front, there’s not a ton going on. We will have action later this week as the World Junior Summer Showcase begins on Saturday with USA Blue facing off against Sweden and USA White battling Finland.
Update: Jonathan Lekkerimäki will not play for Sweden.
The Canucks have three prospects in attendance for this summer showcase.
Elias Pettersson (D-Petey) will play for Sweden while Hunter Brzustewicz and Jackson Dorrington will play for the two USA teams.
It’s unlikely that all three of these prospects will represent their countries at the World Junior Championship in December but we will see D-Petey there and this is a nice little summer tournament to inject some much-needed hockey into our veins.
Before we get into the mailbag, I’ll just share the tournament schedule for those who are interested. A one-month pass to USAHockeyTV is available for $29.99 USD.
I won’t be able to cover the first two games of the tournament as I’m off to my bachelor party on Thursday until Monday but I’m sure someone here will have you covered at CanucksArmy.
Now that we’ve made it through another mailbag intro, let’s stop wasting words and dive into the great questions from the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter.
Let’s bust that mailbag open and see what we got this week.
We all know that playing on the penalty kill is a good way to stick in the bottom-six of an NHL lineup and if you’ve been reading CanucksArmy for a while, you also know that Vasily Podkolzin was a great penalty killer in the KHL as well as in his time with Russia during international play. The now 22-year-old has played some time on the penalty kill during his 28-game stint in the AHL but we have not seen Podkolzin be used in the NHL on a penalty kill aside from a total of 7:14 through 116 NHL games.
To answer your question, it is absolutely time for Vasily Podkolzin to get on the penalty kill at the NHL level. He has seen time on the power play with limited success but the part of his game that we think he will shine with at the NHL level has still not been unlocked.
Podkolzin was a blocked-shot machine when he killed penalties and his combination of size, strength, and smarts make him a prime candidate to kill penalties. He may not have received much PK time with Bruce Boudreau, Travis Green, or Rick Tocchet but the ability to kill penalties will certainly help him find a spot in the lineup and we can see a duo of Podkolzin and Elias Pettersson being very successful while shorthanded.
It’s time to let it rip and put Podkolzin on the PK.
Paul Stastny is now 37 years old and will turn 38 before the calendar switches over to 2024. He saw quite a drop-off in offence after averaging 40+ points a season throughout his 30s. Some people we’ve talked to said that Stastny just wasn’t a good fit with the Carolina Hurricanes last season and after signing a one-year, $1,500,000 contract, he is now an unrestricted free agent who still created a lot of offence last season but saw his defensive play take a hit and that may be due to the fit with the Canes or just the fact that he is on the final few holes of his career.
He still played power play time last season but only had nine goals and 13 assists in 73 games.
This could be a player that the Canucks look at to come compete for the third-line centre role. One thing he has going for him is his work in the faceoff dot. Unfortunately, Stastny isn’t a penalty killer. He could be a better offensive third-line centre option than Sheldon Dries, Teddy Blueger, and Nils Åman but we don’t know if he’s a better option than all of these three as an all-around contributor.
Maybe the Canucks give him a PTO or at most a league-minimum deal, but I wouldn’t bank on the Canucks making a commitment to him being their third-line centre next season. He’s an option for sure, but at 37 years old, it’s not a solid bet.
It’s certainly up for debate if you believe that Aatu Räty or the conditional 2023 first-round pick was the centrepiece in the Bo Horvat trade.
As for your question, Räty could be a full-time NHLer by his draft-plus-two season but it’s more about developing him into being a better player in the long term. You could easily rush him into the NHL and use him as a fourth-line winger but that’s not the goal for Räty — you need him to be a centre and hopefully a third-line centre.
This kid shows well with his forechecking, playmaking, and at times his shooting, but he will need to continue to develop with big minutes in the AHL while also picking up time on both power play and penalty kill. There’s no need to rush this kid because he has a lot of room to grow.
If he’s not an everyday NHLer by his draft-plus-three season, then you could begin to worry a bit, but he just finished his first full season in North America and was traded halfway through it. There’s time with this 20-year-old, he may look like a nice centrepiece in a couple of years and it also helped the Canucks save $8,500,000 of cap-space.
Let the kid cook.
I went to the BC Lions playoff game last year at BC Place and it was a blast. I really enjoy the environment there at BC Place and you have to root for what owner Amar Doman is doing for the local sports scene. Lions all day.
Probably the Chicago Blackhawks. That organization doesn’t deserve Connor Bedard.
On this current day, I feel better with Filip Hronek and Ty Mueller but ask me again in four years.
Of the four players you listed, I’d rock with Akito Hirose. He just seems to not be affected by the bright lights of the NHL and he is older than the rest of these guys and has had more time to develop his game for the highest level.
I see him being the backup next season and there are a lot of back-to-backs in the AHL. I’ll guess 12-20 games but it will depend on how Zack Sawchenko looks.
I can see Jack Rathbone and Akito Hirose both hanging on late but ultimately not making the NHL team out of camp. They are both 24 years old so I’ll give you a younger prospect and say that Danila Klimovich gets a good look in preseason — maybe even a game with Elias Pettersson as his centre, that would be very cool.
My guess for the penalty kill will be something like 77% and for the power play, I’ll go with 23%, so I guess that makes a nice round 100.
Cool.
Alright, that wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy.
As I mentioned earlier, I am headed to my bachelor party this weekend and get to use my one week of vacation as well.
David Quadrelli will be taking over the mailbag for next Monday so be sure to hit him with your best questions when he throws out the call for questions on Sunday.
Be well and enjoy the summer heat.

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