We are down to the top-three Vancouver Canucks’ prospects. The names likely won’t shock those who follow this team closely.
So, let’s just hop right into it.
#3: Will Lockwood, RW, 23 years old, Abbotsford Canucks (AHL)
The 23-year-old winger is currently getting a taste of the NHL level. Will Lockwood looks ready for the big leagues after four years with Michigan in the NCAA, and a year and a half in the AHL. It’s been a long road for Lockwood to get to this point and it’s paying off. Lockwood has become the most impressive penalty killer in Abbotsford this season. His speed is impossible to miss when you watch him play in AHL action. There’s no doubt that he will be able to keep up with the pace of play in the NHL.
Lockwood doesn’t project to be a top-six NHLer but he does possess the offensive skills that could translate into depth scoring on a team like the Canucks. Many have viewed him as the Tyler Motte replacement, and there are definitely a lot of similarities in the two players’ styles of play. Lockwood may have more bite to his game, he is a player who feeds and thrives off of emotion during play. He has a mean streak in his game and is willing to drop the gloves if an opponent wants to push back. Lockwood participated in two fights in the first five games of the season and has continued to play his way as the season has gone along.
Lockwood’s possession numbers in the AHL are at an extremely high level, and he is proving to do everything you could ask from a player in his position. When Lockwood is on the ice, the Abbotsford Canucks control over 60% of scored goals. He has been on the ice for 20 goals for and 13 goals against at five-on-five this season.
There are set to be changes throughout the Canucks’ lineup and Lockwood will have an opening to be on the NHL roster out of training camp. He performed so well at this year’s camp and has done nothing but raise his stock with his strong performance in the AHL this year.
Expect to see the bowling ball player be a part of the Vancouver Canucks’ bottom-six and penalty kill unit next season.
He is ready for the challenge.
#2: Danila Klimovich, RW, 19 years old, Abbotsford Canucks (AHL)
The Canucks’ best pure prospect has shown well as a teenager in the AHL.
Danila Klimovich is the only teenager currently in the AHL and has shown that he belongs in this league but still has a lot of room to grow.
Klimovich has a strong wrist shot, a rocket of a one-timer, and is confident in his ability to deke through defenders. He shows an immense amount of offensive potential and this AHL season is teaching him a lesson about having to work extremely hard to have success in North American pro hockey. Nothing is coming easy for Klimovich this season and that is going to benefit him in the long run.
His high-end projection is to be able to fit into a middle-six with his big body and shot being the reason why. When Klimovich is on his game, he is able to control the puck like it’s magnetized to his blade. This unfortunately is not a regular occurrence as there are a lot of fumbles of the puck when he is carrying it up ice.
As much as he shows potential, he equals that with showing how much more work he has to do to be consistent. He has all the tools but seems to lack the tool belt in many games this season.
The good news is that he broke into the AHL as an 18-year-old and has not looked out of place. We don’t expect to see him get into any NHL games in the 2022-23 season but expect to see more consistency next year in the AHL. Klimovich has not been a top-six player in the AHL aside from a few games here and there due to injuries at the top of Abbotsford’s lineup. Conversations about calling up Klimovich should only come once he begins receiving regular playing time in top-six minutes and having consistent success in the AHL.
He is a couple of years away from the NHL but if he can reach his potential and raise his effort level in the defensive zone, we could be looking at a nice addition to the 2023-24 roster.
#1: Jack Rathbone, LD, 22 years old, Abbotsford Canucks (AHL)
We’ve seen Jack Rathbone develop into an exciting piece for the Canucks’ prospect pool.
After a tough start to the season in the NHL, Rathbone went down to Abbotsford and put in work on his defensive play. Our confidence has grown immensely for his play in his own end. Rathbone looks like a confident defender in the AHL and that boost of confidence can only help his NHL aspirations as he moves forward.
Rathbone has two parts of his game that are screaming for a shot at the NHL — his passing and his skating.
With the added time and open ice in the AHL, Rathbone consistently makes picture-perfect passes through the neutral zone that spring Abbotsford forwards in on breakaways.
His ability to break out of the defensive zone can be done with his crisp passes or by skating the puck out on his own.
Rathbone moves around the ice like an NHLer and is showing a new level of confidence this season with Abbotsford.
On top of his skating and passing, Rathbone’s shot has impressed at every level he’s played in. His one-timer is at a high level and he has been working on getting more shots on net from the point this season.
The only question about Rathbone is his defensive play in the NHL. Passing that test with his next stint will be the final box checked before he is a true NHLer.
Rathbone has the potential to be a top-four offensive defenceman in the NHL. It will be a winding road to get there as the Canucks have Quinn Hughes and Oliver Ekman-Larsson locked into long-term contracts. General manager Patrik Allvin wants to get a look at Rathbone in the NHL this season and we will likely not have to wait much longer to see the Canucks’ number one prospect back in Vancouver.
Thanks for reading my latest Canucks’ ranking articles about the top prospects. If you think the list is way off or I’m missing anyone, let me know in the comments!
10. Chase Wouters
9. Arturs Silovs
8. Mikey DiPietro
7. Lucas Forsell
6. Linus Karlsson
5. Jett Woo
4. Aidan McDonough
3. Will Lockwood
2. Danila Klimovich
1. Jack Rathbone