Scenes from Canucks practice: Beauvillier back on the first line and Cole McWard joins the team
Photo credit:© Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang1 month ago
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After a lackluster performance against the Seattle Kraken, the Canucks were back on the ice this morning for a team-wide practice. With just a few games left in the season, there are a lot of new faces joining the lineup for their chance at a brief audition.
The Canucks have been very active in the NCAA free-agent market and added several new prospects to the organization. The latest addition, Cole McWard, joined the team today to participate in practice. He will get his first NHL game action tomorrow against the Blackhawks.
The biggest piece of news from the lines at practice Thursday morning was the promotion of Anthony Beauvillier back to the first line. He played alongside Kuzmenko and Pettersson earlier this season and the trio had some success. At 5-on-5, that combination is rocking a 61.96 expected goals %, a 55.46 Corsi for %, and has outscored opponents 12-10. In short, they’ve been great.
Quinn Hughes was absent from practice this morning. The Canucks defenceman without him were Tyler Myers, Ethan Bear, Jack Rathbone, Akito Hirose, Kyle Burroughs, and Cole McWard.
“He’s dealing with a little bit of a viral thing so it’s better that he just stay off the ice,” Tocchet said about Hughes. “Give him credit he was pretty sick last night so for him to tough it out just shows you what a tough kid he is.”
Speaking of McWard, the NCAA free agent joined the team for his first practice today. He’s the latest in what has been a flurry of signings from the college ranks for the Canucks. The right-handed defenceman was wearing #48 as he went through drills for the team this morning.
McWard had 21 points in 39 games for the Ohio State University Buckeyes this year before signing with the Canucks. As a right-handed defenceman, he fits a position of need in the organization. His contract spans two years before he becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2024.
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What was said
Cole McWard was a person of interest after practice as reporters gathered round to hear his thoughts on joining the team.
‘It’s been a quick turnaround but I couldn’t be more excited, couldn’t be happier to be here,” he said. “Obviously it’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid so getting to wear the Canucks logo is going to be something special and I’m looking forward to it.”
When asked about why he picked the Canucks over other organizations across the NHL, McWard singled out the higher ups in management.
“I think it was just the comfortability with the management and the coaches and talking with them,” McWard continued. “I really feel like they have a good opportunity here and I can’t be more proud to be a part of the organization right now.”
McWard joins the team from Ohio State in the NCAA, the same college that forward Dakota Joshua played at.
“All the guys have been great but definitely having a Buckeye [Ohio State player] in the locker room is a special thing,” McWard commented.
Rick Tocchet also spoke with the media at length about different topics including the team’s approach to the end of the season and the new lineup.
“In the two months I’ve been here, I’ve seen a lot of good things, a lot of good positive stuff. The last 10 days I’ve seen some old habits creep back in,” Tocchet said. “Not coming to the bench fast, there’s some body language stuff, the battle part of our game is something that has to be addressed. We are a little bit light but that doesn’t mean that you can’t win battles.”
When asked about J.T. Miller and if he had to talk with him about an incident last night where the centreman showed some emotion, Tocchet stood by his player. Miller has revived his game under Tocchet and has looked much more engaged at both ends of the ice.
“He’s been terrific, it’s OK to show to emotion,” the head coach said. “I’m talking body language where you flip your head back, he was just pissed at a couple of little things but he’s been great. I have no problems with him at all.”
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