It’s time for another Monday mailbag. I am once again taking over for David Quadrelli this week.
I always love doing the weekly mailbag so let’s get right into it!
Here’s what the wonderful people of Canucks Twitter asked this week.
There’s definitely a lot of Jack Rathbone hype after he put up four points in his first two AHL games.
His offensive game is more than ready for the NHL but many had questions about his defensive play, which was actually the most impressive thing for me in his games on Friday and Saturday. Rathbone did an excellent job with his gap control and had an active stick to break up the opposition’s possession when the puck entered his zone.
He’s not going to be a defensive specialist, but to see him excel at the AHL level against that competition was a great sign for the kid who hadn’t played in a real hockey game in 356 days.
Though he has a lot of hype, I’ve still got to go with Vasily Podkolzin being the best prospect not in the NHL.
I’ve seen the evolution in Podkolzin’s game over the past two seasons and he looks like he will make an instant impact on the Canucks’ roster whenever that day comes.
Podkolzin should play with great players. He will be a playmaking winger who forechecks like the Tazmanian Devil and is quick with his decision making, similar to what we’ve seen from Nils Hoglander this season. If Hoglander and Podkolzin link up with Bo Horvat on a second line, that will make Horvat into a scoring machine.
The big thing that needs to improve in Podkolzin’s game is his shooting ability. He has a strong shot but it’s just missing that NHL sniper pop that you see from some of the NHL snipers. If he can add that to his game he will have top-line potential. Podkolzin gives the Canucks’ top-six so many options in the future.
Both Rathbone and Podkolzin are highly touted NHL prospects. Either of them could play on the Canucks’ roster right now and frankly, I was surprised to not see Rathbone in an NHL game earlier this season. The move down to the AHL now creates a tough spot to get him into a game with the Canucks. Comets fans need to enjoy the time that Rathbone is down there because he won’t be back after this stint.
More Podkolzin questions, I love that for me.
So, Podkolzin’s KHL team begins their playoffs on March 2nd. They should run through their first-round opponent.
The second-round will be a tougher task but that is when the real PodWatch should begin. Once his team is eliminated from the playoffs, it’s on Jim Benning to try and get Podkolzin out of his KHL deal and into Vancouver.
The realistic, but still absolute best-case scenario for Podkolzin to play for the Canucks would be April 5-12.
In this scenario, SKA would be eliminated from the playoffs in the second round sometime between March 22-29. Then he would need to travel to Vancouver, go through a two-week quarantine and get prepared to play after a practice or two with the Canucks.
This is the best-case scenario, but there are a lot of moving parts that I personally believe mean Jim Benning won’t be able to get together to have Podkolzin here for that date. SKA could very easily go on a deep playoff run and push that date back a few weeks and we haven’t even talked about the World Championships yet.
The question was when the earliest that I think we’ll see Podz on the ice in Vancouver is.
So, from the information in the past couple of paragraphs, the earliest we could realistically see Podkolzin in an NHL game would be their game on April 6th against the Winnipeg Jets.
That would give him 16 potential games with the Canucks to finish off the season.
I would rather him come in for a fresh start in the 2021-22 season.
That being said, a late-season Pod-punch would be nice for the morale of us who cover this team.
As I said, there are still a lot of moving parts.
I think we have all given it a look…
My first three tries, the Canucks dropped spots.
I guess that thing is pretty accurate.
I think it would be an interim General Manager if Jim Benning is let go in the next few weeks.
Stan Smyl or Chris Gear are options to be the interim GM.
Could you imagine if it was John Weisbrod though? That’s the darkest timeline for many fans.
A longer search needs to be held in the offseason. I hope the owner is already looking into it because obviously, Jim Benning is not the GM of the future for this team.
Both players have been impressive at the AHL level this season.
Jonah Gadjovich is finding a scoring touch and now has seven goals in seven games. He is excellent in front of the net and appears to have added a half step to his skating.
He could be an option as a bottom-six winger in the future but there will always be questions about his ability to keep up with the NHL pace.
Will Lockwood is on the other side of the spectrum. He is absolutely fast enough to play in the NHL. Lockwood has been skating on the wing opposite Gadjovich and is a demon on the forecheck. He consistently throws hits on much bigger players. Coaches will love his willingness to crash and bang on every shift.
Lockwood also has some silky hands in tight and does a pretty good job seeing the ice and making good passes in the offensive zone.
I think both will get a shot at the NHL in the next two years, and in a normal, non-COVID season, I’d bet that at least one of them would get a game with the Canucks late in the season but this year they may just ride it out in Utica.
I’ll be very excited to see how they show up to camp this coming fall for the 2021-22 season.
Well, that wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy.
We will see you next Monday!
Keep your eyes out for the call for questions every Sunday on Twitter!