It has been a busy week for the Vancouver Canucks. With preseason games, their two best players finally signing their contracts and developing questions on the defence, there are plenty of talking points.
It feels like the perfect time for a Monday mailbag because there are sure to be some great questions this week.
Let’s open up the ol’ Twitter machine and see what the great people had to ask this week.
The biggest surprise has been Phil Di Giuseppe. We heard that he was a good skater and he has lived up to that reputation.
The big question will be if he can kill penalties for Travis Green. Di Giuseppe told Daniel Wagner of PassItToBulis that he is very capable of killing penalties but just didn’t fit into the New York Rangers’ plan last season for who they wanted killing penalties.
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Di Giuseppe showed well in training camp, had held his own through the preseason, and has made a strong case to be in the opening night lineup.
The other name worth mentioning is Justin Dowling. He has been used on the penalty kill throughout the preseason and most importantly, can play centre.
Both Di Giuseppe and Dowling have done all they can to make the team. It’s a great opportunity for those two as Tyler Motte and Brandon Sutter’s statuses are still in question for the season opener. Sutter looks to be a while but Motte seems close.
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I’m with you when it comes to the OEL-Poolman pairing, they have looked good throughout the preseason. The final two games against the Edmonton Oilers will be a good measurement for them as they should get a heavy dose of Connor McDavid and that is when the pairing will truly be tested.
Tucker Poolman has been better than expected. He plays a quiet game and allows Oliver Ekman-Larsson to be the primary puck-mover. Their stylistic fit is perfect and if the chemistry continues to grow, they may be a second pairing option for years to come.
As for the Norris talk, I assume you’re kidding. Be smart with your money, bet on Thatcher Demko for the Vezina instead.
Though we’ve heard talk about a set of balanced power play units, the first unit is likely to dominate in ice time.
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The first unit should consist of Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat and Quinn Hughes.
On the second unit, I’d like to see Conor Garland, Nils Höglander, Jack Rathbone, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and it looks like Justin Dowling may be the centre. It could be another reason why Dowling finds his way onto the opening night lineup.
I’m here for the argument of Tanner Pearson or Vasily Podkolzin over one of the two defencemen. The point is that Rathbone and OEL are two players who should be getting power play time somehow.
Though he has been putting up high possession numbers and looks good defensively, Vasily Podkolzin has not impressed much with his offensive game.
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Not only is his offensive game struggling, but he also looks to be playing a bit timid. It’s likely just due to the adjustment of play to the NHL but Podkolzin is leaving more to be desired with his preseason showings.
Fans want to see the physical side of Podkolzin but it’s going to take a bit for him to get comfortable enough to try some things.
Offensively, we want to see his shot pop like it did in training camp. It will come, I just believe that he is playing with some nerves at the moment. Once he gets a couple of big hits and notches his first few goals, the Pod-hype will begin.
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It just feels like he’s holding the stick a bit too tight right now and is holding back some of his physicality. Once he finds his groove, there will be no questions about him. He’s going to be a very good piece for this team and I believe he will be a difference-maker as soon as this season.
The thought of having him develop in the AHL is a bit out of mind. He’s clearly fitting into the flow of an NHL game. The problem is that he is not yet shining in NHL action.
It will come, be patient with this 20-year-old.
Nope, we will not see the Sprite jerseys this season. Love them or hate them, the reverse retro jerseys will not be back in the NHL.
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Teams have the option to use a similar design as an alternate jersey but the Canucks have a slam dunk with their black skate jerseys.
We won’t see the Sprite can jerseys this year.
From all we have seen in training camp and preseason, it looks like Travis Green is going to give MacEwen a chance to at least be in the NHL.
He may be used as an extra forward to start the season but will get into games if the Canucks can find four or five other forwards who can kill penalties.
Zack MacEwen can bring physicality to a fourth line and adds the ability to fight as well. He can bring offence to a fourth line if he can bounce back from his tough 2020-21 season.
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I’d bet on him being with the Vancouver Canucks to start the season. Odds are that he doesn’t sniff Abbotsford this year.
We may be able to explore this next season but nothing this year. We are just crazy busy with so much right now, it would be tough to add that on and organize it.
We will try for one next season!
Will Lockwood has really impressed over the past 10 days. He likely won’t make the NHL team for the beginning of the season but he is still on his ELC and will be a great call-up option as the season goes along.
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As for Alex Chiasson, he has also impressed and it seems like Green likes him as a power play option and a winger who can play in the top-nine during a pinch.
Jim Benning didn’t have much to say about Chiasson when asked about him at Sunday’s media availability but he has impressed in camp. It looks to be enough to earn him a contract. If he does get a contract, it’s going to be very tough for MacEwen to get into many games this season.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Aidan McDonough could be the best scorer in the NCAA this season.
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He is the primary shooter on one of the best power plays in college hockey and made big improvements to his skating to help his five-on-five scoring production.
If he gets a few bounces and stays healthy, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t get to 25 goals this year.
As for him signing at the end of year, the overall feel I get is that this is becoming more of a possibility.
McDonough will continue to say that Northeastern is a great school and that he would like to be with the school. Good sources are telling me that McDonough is beginning to take a harder look at jumping ship over to pro hockey at the end of this year. He wants to get to pro hockey soon and if this season goes well for him, his stock may never be higher.
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At the start of the year, I would have said that it was a 50-50 chance that McDonough would sign. Now, I’d say it’s 60-40 that he goes pro as long as he has a strong junior year and stays healthy.
This wraps up another Monday mailbag at CanucksArmy. Thanks as always for the great questions and be sure to follow along on Twitter to get your questions in!