The new and improved Blackfish: Where each Canucks prospect will play in 2023-24

Photo credit:Nick Barden
By Faber
10 months ago
We are probably two to three weeks away from the official return of Blackfish, the CanucksArmy prospect report, as a weekly feature
It’s one of my favourite articles to write every week and we will keep you updated on the biggest stories in the world of Canucks prospects.
Before we get back to Blackfish returning every Tuesday, let’s set the table on where many of the Canucks’ top prospects will be playing next season.
Speaking of setting a table. I’ve seen the comments and will do my best to keep an updated sheet on point production from the prospects. We will include this in the Blackfish articles once we are rolling with them every week, but it will look something like this.
Let’s dive in.


Arshdeep Bains will be back in the AHL next season. The 22-year-old might even see some NHL games next season but he will need to show improvement over the offseason and dive into the regular season with confidence after his strong rookie season last year.
Tristen Nielsen is a bit older at 23 years old and he will be back with Abbotsford this season but the difference from last year is that Nielsen earned himself an NHL contract and can now be called up to the NHL if he earns it. This kid can play all three forward positions, contribute on both special teams units and is just a pest on the ice. Let’s see where his season goes, NHL games wouldn’t be the biggest shock in the world but it would come as a pleasant surprise.
Max Sasson is expected to battle for a top-six spot in Abbotsford this season and he is still just 22 years old and plays a much-needed position at centre ice. He was good for Abbotsford after signing from the NCAA and he will look to build his game with more pro reps in 2023-24.
The environment should be a bit more settled this season for 20-year-old Aatu Räty. He is not coming into a season where the NHL team doesn’t have pressure for him to make the jump and instead, he will be able to develop in the AHL. We want to see him continue to grow his tempo in a game and be able to look ahead of the play in the AHL instead of lagging behind it. Being traded during his first year in North America had to be tough on the kid but he was able to get into 15 NHL games and performed fine for a kid who is so young.
Danila Klimovich is arguably the most exciting prospect to follow in terms of a storyline. This kid now has two full seasons in North America and he just turned 20 last season. He should get top-nine and power play time this season after being used primarily in a fourth-line role last season and not getting consistent power play time during the 2022-23 season. He’s ready for it and he should be able to perform well with the better linemates and added power play time. It’s time for Klimovich to let it rip.
Josh Bloom is making the jump from the OHL to the AHL and we know that this jump can be very difficult for players but Bloom has a solid base to build off and he may only be a fourth-line player to begin the season but if he is able to translate his penalty killing skills from junior to pro, he will earn more ice time from the coaches quickly. He’s 20 years old, so let’s see what he can do at his young age.
He’s just past our level of prospect to watch but Jett Woo is on a one-year deal with the Canucks after signing this summer and he is looking to make the jump to the NHL in a hurry.
Cole McWard turned 22 years old this summer and should be a solid right-shot defenceman for Abbotsford and potentially a call-up option later in the season when injuries occur to the big club. McWard will be battling with Woo and Filip Johansson for the call next year and we like the competition that the AHL club now has on the right side of defence.
Akito Hirose is one to watch too but he’s 24 years old, so, it’s go time.
Arturs Silovs is fresh off a World Championships MVP and he will be receiving a hell of a lot of starts in the AHL if he is not in the NHL.
Nikita Tolopilo has the size and movement that gets you excited about what he can do with good coaching and that’s what 2023-24 is all about for the Belarussian. Let’s see him cook with Marko Torenius and Ian Clark.


Kirill Kudryavtsev returns to the Soo Greyhounds, where he will play his third OHL season. The 19-year-old, left-shot defenceman should be the power play quarterback and is progressing toward being a point-per-game defenceman in the OHL this year.
Hunter Brzustewicz is the 18-year-old right-shot defenceman that the Canucks drafted in the third round of the 2023 draft and he is back with the Kitchener Rangers for his second OHL season. He had 57 points in 68 games last season and it will be a run battle to follow between Brzustewicz and Kudryavtsev on which of them can be the better offensive talent from the backend in the OHL.
Vilmer Alriksson is that 6’6″ forward who the Canucks selected in the fourth round of the 2023 draft. He was selected by the Guelph Storm in the CHL import draft and should get a lot of minutes with the Storm. We like that Alriksson is coming over to North America so early in his hockey career. This is a slow burn to follow as we don’t expect him to pop for a year or two. This move to the OHL does get him closer to the AHL.


Hugo Gabrielson had a rough recovery from shoulder surgery last summer and his 2022-23 season was a bit of a flop but he will look to be healthy and bounce back with Västerviks this season.


Dmitri Zlodeyev is going to get more ice time in the KHL with his new club, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk. He had a down season last year but we liked him at development camp and he really wants to come to the AHL one day. Zlodeyev has two more years on his current KHL contract.


Joni Jurmo will once again attempt to shake the worries about how he processes plays as he heads into his fourth Liiga season. He has switched teams and will be joining Ilves. This change in scenery comes with a coach who believes in him. Ilves is coached by Antti Pennanen, who coached Jurmo at the World Juniors in 2022.
Right-shot defenceman Viktor Persson is also back in Liiga for another year. He’s with the Pelicana and will look to be an everyday player this season after only playing in 24 games during the 2022-23 season.


Örebro is the home of the two of the Canucks’ top prospects. Elias Pettersson (D-Petey) and Jonathan Lekkerimäki will be part of the youth who lead at Örebro and their roles will likely grow as the season goes on. Both of these two are also expected to be leading dogs for Sweden at the World Junior Championships in their home country this December.
Lucas Forsell is coming off a strong finish to his 2023-24 season and his expectation is to continue to score in the SHL this year with added ice time at five-on-five and on the power play. He’s still only 19 years old — which sounds incorrect but believe me, he’s still so young.


Aku Koskenvuo is back with Harvard after not getting into more than a handful of games with the Ivy League club. He is fighting for the starter’s gig in training camp after Harvard’s starter moved on to pro this summer. The big goalie has some nice traits that goaltender coaches like. It’s about playing games for Koskenvuo. He should get more starts this season but he’s not projected to be the starter as of now, he will have to win that job.
Jack Malone is now 22 years old and didn’t see much improvement in his counting stats from his freshman season to what he did last year as a sophomore. He will need to show a lot to get our attention this season.
Jackson Kunz has struggled to translate his scoring touch to the NCAA and only has eight goals in two NCAA season. He’s back at the University of North Dakota for his third year, let’s see him pop.
Ty Mueller is heading back to the University of Nebraska-Ohama after being selected as double overager in the 2023 draft. He saw a nice spike in offence from season one to season two, hopefully he can do the same in year three.
Matthew Perkins was selected 119th overall at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and will now make the jump to the NCAA after playing last season in the USHL as an overaged player. Perkins will join the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Let’s see how he adjusts to the higher level of competition.
It’s time for Daimon Gardner to make the jump from the USHL to the NCAA. The 19-year-old, 6’4″ centre is joining Clarkson and ice time is not guaranteed for this kid. He will need to earn a spot and then move up the lineup. We will follow the jump.
Jackson Dorrington is one of the prospects who has horrible counting stats but he is one that you need to watch to appreciate. There’s a reason why the 6’2″ defenceman was invited to USA’s summer showcase. This kid has some defensive skills and he will be back with Northeastern next season looking to be a top-four defenceman in his sophomore season. Don’t expect to see a lot of highlights from him in these articles but we will try to clip some big hits or strong defensive plays as the season goes along.
Jacob Truscott is now 21 years old and also the captain of the Michigan Wolverines. The versatile defenceman has a lot of pressure on him with the captaincy of a major hockey powerhouse. We expect him to go pro after this season, which will be his fourth with Michigan.
Aiden Celebrini is off to Boston University next season after the Canucks selected him in the sixth round of the 2023 draft. He didn’t have great offensive numbers with the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL last season but he plays a solid two-way game and we are curious to see where he fits in the Boston lineup. He may not be an everyday player but this is a multi-year development plan for him in the NCAA.
Last but certainly not least of the NCAA prospects is 2023 first-round pick Tom Willander. It’s going to be really fun to follow his time at Boston University next season and if he’s playing with Lane Hutson as his partner — get ready for the points to explode. We will be watching a lot of BU games this season.


Just down the road, Sawyer Mynio will be back with the Seattle Thunderbirds and will be looked at to play more minutes at five-on-five and on the penalty kill this year with the Thunderbirds having a lot of graduating players.
Ty Young looks to be the de facto starter for Prince George this season and we just want to see him continue on his development path. This is a kid who is fully invested in Ian Clark making him the best goaltender possible. Our hope is to make it down to Seattle when Prince George is in town so that we can watch Mynio and Young.
That’s it for the Canucks prospects and where they will play.
Now, I’m off to celebrate the completion of this article as it is my 1000th for CanucksArmy.
Cheers to 1000 more!
EDIT: How does this table look on your desktop or phone? Let me know in the comments.
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