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Which Canucks prospect has the best chance at making the team out of camp?: Canucks Conversation:

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Photo credit:@Canucks on Instagram
Clarke Corsan
1 month ago
On yesterday’s episode of Canucks Conversation, David Quadrelli and Harman Dayal were joined by prospect scout Dave Hall to discuss which Canucks prospect has the best shot to crack Vancouver’s roster next season.
CanucksArmy held a poll on Twitter for which prospect fans think has the best chance, with Max Sasson, Jonathan Lekkerimäki, and Aatu Räty headlining. Dave started with a few names from outside the list.
“With over 125 games under his belt, my obvious answer is Vasily Podkolzin,” said Dave. “It’s always been, ‘I hope he carves out a permanent role, I hope he does well this year’—I think we’re past that ‘I hope’ stage and we’re at the point where he must. He must earn that spot and maintain that serviceable role. If that’s in the bottom six, that’s fine. We can’t have Podkolzin in Abbotsford; that’s a no-go.”
Podkolzin has 18 goals and 35 points in 137 NHL games played. His ceiling may not be as high as we once hoped, but he’s still just 22 years old with time to develop. 
“Number two is Arshdeep Bains,” Dave continued. “The difference he had from year one to year two was incredible. Whether it was from an offensive standpoint, a leadership role, or straight-up driver, he was the golden child in Abbotsford. He probably will come back in training camp knocking on the door. This goes back to the Western league—every single one of his ‘leaps,’ he’s never come out the gate super strong. He takes some time to learn the league, figure it out, and comes back the next year and goes gangbusters. In the last couple of games, we could tell he was probably a little above his head and should probably go back to Abbotsford, but now he’s gained the reps, seen what needs to happen, knows the speed and physicality. I think he comes back after a good summer and ultimately earns a spot on this roster.”
Bains saw his first NHL action late in the season with Vancouver, and had 0 points in 8 games with a -6 rating mainly in a fourth-line role. 
Dave then got to the players listed in the poll, starting with Max Sasson.
“I’ve been quite vocal on [Max Sasson] getting a spot,” Dave noted. “I get why he didn’t get one—it was a sign of the times and, at that point, you’re trying to work out kinks. If this were the year before, however, I think we’d see Sasson in the lineup at some point. At this point, he probably is our best centre prospect. Even when he moves up, he’s going to play centre, which he plays well. He’s always the fastest player on the ice. Bains is fast in the AHL, but Sasson has the ability to be fast in the NHL. He works every single shift, plays the Tocchet type of never giving up, and he gets into the dirty areas and drives play. It’s probably a fourth-line role, but as a cheaper option, I think he’s probably the best option to go up, simply for the fact that he’ll maintain a centre role.”
Sasson has seen no NHL action in the two years he’s been with the club, but put up 18 goals and 42 points in 56 games with Abbotsford this past season.
“Lekkerimäki is the golden child; he’s the one we all want and expect to go,” Dave said as he moved on. “It’s important to tread lightly here. At this point, he represents our ‘must-hit prospect,’ our only homegrown, high-pedigree, high-draft-pick prospect that we sort of need to make sure hits because he would be a huge addition. I think it’s important that we tread lightly with his confidence and development. Maybe he comes in, goes to Penticton, and has an unbelievable showcase at the Young Stars, comes into camp super confident, scores a couple of goals, and gets a spot. I’m all for that. But for me, unless he’s coming in to play a top-six role with Elias Pettersson where he’s going to be put in a spot to score goals, that’s great and let’s do it. But if he’s not, let’s get him down to Abbotsford playing top-six, power play, shooting a ton, and see where it goes and revisit at Christmas. Although we all want it, I just don’t see the need to really put him in unless he commands the spot, which could happen, but I’m not sold on it right now.”
Aatu Räty was the final player from the poll list.
“Räty had a really good year; his development was great, he upped all of his numbers, but he’s a bit inconsistent,” Dave said. “There are moments when he gets 14 points in 7 games and it’s great to see, but 12 games before that, there were games you don’t even notice him and 10 games after you didn’t really notice. They come in spurts, and even when he was getting the points, there wasn’t a lot of play-driving. It was typically him being on the wing with Max Sasson in the centre, who’d go into the corners, grab it, and Räty would get the secondary assist. Almost three-quarters of his points were secondary assists, so while we like the development and don’t get me wrong, it was a great year, I’m in the same boat as Lekkerimäki. Even if he has a good camp, I’d still like to see him back in Abbotsford, which will probably happen regardless.”
Finally, Dave gave an update on defenceman Tom Willander, who will be returning to Boston University to be the top dog on the blue line. 
“The nice thing is, Lane Hutson will be gone,” Dave stated. “It’s going to be a nice year where he’s going to be the guy, top line, whether it’s even strength or power play—the power play will be the big thing. We love his defence, we love his work ethic, all that stuff on the defensive end, but what really needs to pop is that offensive pedigree. The numbers this year were quite pedestrian. For anyone that isn’t watching the games, it’s hard to tell whether he’s playing well or not because his numbers don’t look that great, but he averaged like 30 seconds on the power play. So him getting an extra push offensively and being the guy in Boston is going to be a big tell towards what his game will truly look like. It’s going to be a big year for him.”
You can watch the full replay of the show below:

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