6 final takeaways from Vancouver Canucks training camp
By Faber2 months ago
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All the good folks on Vancouver Island had the chance to watch the Vancouver Canucks play out their training camp over the past few days.
We tried to share as much as we could over social media and here on this wonderful website. The camp had a lot of what we were expecting — structure, habits and standards. A lot of the drills were set to make players breakout the puck, capitalize on turnovers and bring pressure while simultaneously dealing with pressure.
Captain Quinn is locked in
From the first skate, Quinn Hughes looks excellent.
Hughes was partnered with Noah Juulsen on day one of camp and then went on to skate with Carson Soucy on day two as well as the scrimmage on day three.
No matter who Hughes was playing with, he looked great. The obvious skating excellent was on full display but we really liked the way he attacked from a defensive position. Hughes was utilizing the ‘lower man wins’ technique that we were taught from an early age on the football field. Hughes used his skating to get between attacking players and the puck while being able to quickly force turnovers with a good stick.
Here’s an example of Hughes attacking at the perfect time and throwing a pretty big hit on the larger Phil Di Giuseppe. These types of aggressive jolts while defending were a consistent act throughout camp. It seems like it was a strong offseason for the Canucks’ new captain and Quinn Hughes should be dialled in from night one. He was excellent throughout camp and looked like the best player on the ice through the three days that we were in attendance.
Captain Quinn is coming in hot this season.
Arshdeep Bains spent his camp with NHLers
We touched on this story in my first two takeaway articles from camp but we then saw Arshdeep Bains get a chance to skate alongside Conor Garland and Pius Suter in the scrimmage and though some believe that Bains was just holding a spot in the lineup for Ilya Mikheyev, you have to wonder if the Abbotsford staff had a lot of positive things to say about Bains and the way that Rick Tocchet spoke about Abbotsford head coach Jeremy Colliton made it sound like Tocchet really valued Colliton’s words.
Bains looked the part throughout camp but certainly didn’t shine in any specific skill. All he did was fit in nicely with NHL linemates and for Bains — who has just one year of pro experience — this is a huge win.
We’re even more convinced than we already were in the fact that Bains is going to get NHL games with the Canucks this season. The time for the local kid is coming and it’s coming soon.
Bains will be a top penalty killer in the AHL and if he can find success at the NHL level while shorthanded, he may be able to carve out a great career for a player who went undrafted and had to sign as a CHL free agent.
Thatcher Demko shined compared to the rest of the goalies
It’s tough for a goaltender to stand out at training camp but Thatcher Demko did exactly that. It’s not like there were any questions about who would be the Canucks’ starter heading into the season but Demko really separated himself from the pack and looked much better than any of Nikita Tolopilo, Arturs Silovs, Spencer Martin, Casey DeSmith and Ty Young.
An offseason of being fully healthy is massive for the Canucks’ goaltender, who will be tasked with leading the Canucks from the crease this season. If he can remain healthy and find the level that we know he can play at, we may see him get back in the Vezina Trophy conversation. It’s going to take a lot of wins but wins will come if Demko is playing up to his top potential.
The combination of an improved defence in front of him as well as what we hope is an improve penalty kill will give Demko the chance to steal some nights for the Canucks and be able to keep them in games with big saves.
Expect to see much more movement from the power play units
Head coach Rick Tocchet was heavy with his words when he spoke about the power play having more movement. This Canucks team has a lot of very skilled power play scorers and Tocchet wants to see the Canucks include more movement into their power play units.
Gone should be the days of Elias Pettersson being used as a decoy, and instead should come the days where positional fluidity is an expected trait from the Canucks’ man-advantage groups.
The top power play unit saw Brock Boeser, Andrei Kuzmenko, Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Quinn Hughes. This five-man unit had Kuzmenko and Miller typically around the net but both were seen making moves to the half-walls with other players making moves away from the puck to create confusion and hopefully open up extra passing lanes.
This specific alignment with Boeser on the left half-wall made for an interesting multiple option set for Boeser. He had Miller for the high bumper shot, a screen/tip option from Kuzmenko and even a backdoor option with Elias Pettersson moving towards the new on the far side. He ultimately has a huge shooting lane and steps into his shot like it was 2017.
We saw so much movement throughout the practice, some interesting ones were Pettersson on the right side with a Kuzmenko bumper option and Boeser down by the net or just a whole bunch of other possibilities. The combinations are vast with this five-man group of talented scorers.
The second unit had Pius Suter, Nils Höglander, Anthony Beauvillier, Conor Garland and Filip Hronek. They were moving a lot too but didn’t score a lot in the special teams practice.
Keep an eye on Guillaume Brisebois potentially winning the job of left-side defenceman on the third pairing
I’m just going to leave it at that. Keep an eye on this.
Josh Bloom and Christian Wolanin made their case in the scrimmage
Josh Bloom is playing for AHL minutes while Christian Wolanin is looking to be a full-time NHLer this season. Both of these players showed well in the scrimmage with Bloom scoring the opening goal after drawing a penalty shot for himself.
Bloom didn’t impress at Young Stars or much during the first couple of days at camp but he came to play in the scrimmage and was an impact player on a line with Tristen Nielsen and Chase Wouters. Bloom looked like the most involved of the three and was able to use his speed and size to be disruptive throughout the two periods of play.
As for Wolanin, he just looks so comfortable with the puck and is heading into the preseason with a lot of confidence after winning AHL defenceman of the year last season. Wolanin will be fighting with Guillaume Brisebois for the left-side defence role on the third pairing. Wolanin didn’t get the NHL partner like Brisebois through camp but was still able to leave his mark on us with his ability to control the puck and get pucks on net.
For those who didn’t get the chance to consistently watch Wolanin last season in the AHL, he is an absolute point machine and a lot of that comes from his ability to get the puck on net or find backdoor passes that create high-danger scoring chances.
There’s plenty more to get into but we will leave it for another day or just let it die because we have preseason hockey to talk about now!
Game action against different logos should bring some excitement and likely a lot more physicality as players on the bubble look to go full Studnicka-mode and impress their coaches and management groups.
The Canucks are in action tonight against the Calgary Flames and we will once again have you covered with a recap and more about the Canucks’ first preseason game of the season.
And just a quick tidbit, this was what Tocchet said about his lineup for Sunday’s preseason game in Cowtown.
“You want to get the young guys in,” said Tocchet. “There are some guys that deserve a shot just the way they maybe weren’t on the radar that I’ve liked it.”
Expect to see some young kids get a chance in Calgary but due to article 15.4 in the CBA, teams have to dress a minimum of eight veterans for any exhibition game.
To qualify as a veteran, you have to qualify in one of these four options:(1) A forward or defenseman who played in thirty (30) NHL Games during the previous season,(2) A goaltender who either dressed in fifty (50) or more NHL Games or played in thirty (30) or more NHL Games in the previous season,(3) A first round draft choice from the most recent year’s Entry Draft.(4) Any Player who has played one-hundred (100) or more career NHL Games.
It should be a fun Sunday night and the Canucks and Flames game will be televised on Sportsnet with the broadcast beginning at 5:00 pm PT.
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