The Young Stars Classic is a great jumpstart for Vancouver Canucks prospects
By Noah Strang8 days ago
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The Vancouver Canucks will be participating in the Young Stars Classic that starts this Friday, September 15th. The Canucks will play a total of three games against the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets.
The Young Stars tournament is a great chance for young players in NHL organizations to impress management, introduce their playstyle to fans, and most importantly, prepare for the upcoming season. After a few long months without hockey, the Young Stars tournament is also a great chance for everyone to watch on-ice action again.
Young Stars value displayed through last year’s group NHL experience
The Young Stars tournament has proved to be an extremely valuable development tool for all the teams that participate. While none of the rosters are going to be stacked with high first-round picks through all four lines, it’s a great chance for young AHL players, late bloomers, and mid-round selections to make a name for themselves.
Nils Åman and Artus Silovs both played in last year’s edition of the Young Stars Classic for the Canucks and later ended up playing a significant amount of NHL games. Phillip Broberg and Walker Duehr did the same for the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames respectively.
Another good example of the tournament’s value besides those players comes in the form of Arshdeep Bains. Last year’s tournament served as a stage for his breakout and he continued his strong play throughout his first season of professional hockey in the AHL. Bains took full advantage of the opportunities offered in the preseason mini-tournament and started a wave of momentum that he continues to grow to this day, rocketing up Canucks’ top prospects lists over the last 12 months.
The Young Stars tournament is likely most valuable for players making the jump to the AHL from the CHL or NCAA hockey like Bains was last season. The opportunity to get game-action against a group of players made up of talent somewhere between those two levels is a great preparation tool to get prepared for a long season.
Three Vancouver Canucks prospects to keep an eye on at Young Stars
While it will be exciting to see the progression and development of every player at Young Stars, there are a few that people will definitely be paying attention to more than others. Here are four players who will be under a bit of a stronger spotlight at Young Stars.
Acquired in return for Riley Stillman last season, Bloom will be making the jump to professional hockey this season. Going from the CHL to the AHL is no small step and the Young Stars tournament offers the perfect chance for Bloom to get some ice time against weaker competition before joining Abbotsford.
After playing parts of three seasons with the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL, eventually becoming the team’s captain, Bloom was traded in the middle of last season to the North Bay Battalion. The Battalion were one of the best teams in the league and Bloom was a leading contributor, scoring 25 goals and adding 30 assists for 55 points in just 49 games.
Bloom will start with the Abbotsford Canucks this season. Still just 20 years old, he has the potential to be a regular NHL player within a few years. That starts with a strong 2023-24 season, including a good performance at the Young Stars tournament to kick off the year.
The Canucks third-round selection in the latest NHL Entry Draft, Brzustewciz is the first of two OHL defencemen on this list. He is right-handed and one of the top blueline prospects in the Canucks system. If he can turn into a legitimate NHL contributor, it would be a huge boost for a defence group that has been among the league’s worst over the past decade. Of course, by the time Brzustewicz is expected to be at the top level, the Canucks roster will look very different.
Still, this Young Stars tournament offers the first chance for fans and the organization alike to get a look at one of the biggest “swing” prospects in the organization. If Brzutewicz hits as a player, it would make a huge impact on the Canucks’ future prospects for sustained team success.
He had 57 points in 68 games for the Kitchener Rangers last season, his first in the OHL. He’s the type of defenceman who can create plays with his skating and passing ability, going around opponents to find open ice. Ideally, he will have those qualities on full display in Penticton.
Normally seventh-round picks get a bit of attention on draft day before they fade into obscurity over the following seasons. That’s not the case with Kudryavtsev who has taken large strides since being picked in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
While he might not have as much NHL potential as the two players mentioned above, Kudryavtsev’s passing and smooth play impressed last season at the OHL level.
The Young Stars tournament will help Kudryavstev get reps against AHL-level players before he heads back to the OHL where he is expected to be a top defenceman this season.
One of the older players on the expected Canucks Young Stars roster is Aidan McDonough. Not only is he already 23 years old, he’s also scored a goal at the NHL level.
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McDonough will be expected to be one of the team’s best players in this mini-tournament. We know he’s great on the power play, but can he be a driver of a top line at 5-on-5? As he makes the transition to his first full season of professional hockey, thriving at this tournament would be a great way to start off on the right foot.
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