Tuesday’s summer skate session was a treat to those in attendance as new players took to the ice and we saw a full-on scrimmage for around an hour.
There were some interesting notes to come out of this scrimmage and though we won’t dive too much into line combinations, we are going to look at one interesting defence pairing.
After the skate, we caught up with Elias Pettersson as he chatted with the media for the first time and reflected on last year as well as how he prepared during the offseason.
We have some fun news and notes to get to as well as some clips from our new social media manager, Jamie! Let’s dive into what we saw at the Canucks surprise scrimmage.
What we saw
Quinn Hughes playing the right side
We are going to try and contain ourselves and remember that this is just an informal team scrimmage where linemates and defence pairings don’t really matter.
Actually, for this story, we are not going to contain ourselves.
Quinn Hughes made his first appearance at a Canucks summer skate session and he jumped right into the scrimmage on a pairing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. As reported last week by Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie & Dhali, Jim Rutherford said that Hughes has approached the team about being able to play the right side.
Lo and behold, the first time we see him on the ice with his Canucks teammates, he is skating on the right side with veteran defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The extremely early stages of the Right-Side-Hughes experiment didn’t disappoint as he used space on the right side of the offensive zone to find Vasily Podkolzin’s stick for the first goal of the scrimmage.
As for the rest of the pairings, we will list them even though we have to remember that this is just a silly summer scrimmage and not to read too much into them.
Travis Dermott and Tyler Myers were absent from Tuesday’s skate but these pairings give us a bit of insight into some pairing ideas for training camp and preseason.
You could read into Jack Rathbone being with AHLer Noah Juulsen instead of one of Tucker Poolman or Luke Schenn if you want but we will save that for training camp as there is going to be a bit of a fight for the bottom pairing if the OEL-Hughes pairing sticks as the team’s top-pairing.
The new guys fit right in
Two players who we wanted to lock in on were Andrey Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev. Both looked good in the scrimmage and we will start with a few notes about Kuzmenko.
The KHL star spent a good portion of the scrimmage on Pettersson’s wing and the two combined for a nice goal during a two-on-one. We’ve been wanting to see Kuzmenko skate with and against NHL competition and though this skate wasn’t very physical, Kuzmenko’s pace looked good and his hands looked even better.
It’s clear that a lot of Kuzmenko’s strengths are at the level of an NHL player. He handles the puck very well and can make passes without needing to think the play out. We also liked how much of an active stick he had in the neutral zone. There are going to be a lot of questions about Kuzmenko as training camp and the preseason roll along but we’re expecting him to have a lot of answers as well.
Aside from Hughes playing the right side, the biggest takeaway I had from this scrimmage was how damn fast Ilya Mikheyev is.
The guy can absolutely fly and there were a handful of times where he was in line with a defenceman at the blue line and he would take three hards strides and be two steps ahead of said defenceman.
Prep for Young Stars
We spoke with Assitant General Manager and Director of Player Development Ryan Johnson after the skate and he mentioned that this scrimmage was a good chance for the Young Stars participants to get a chance to get some wind in their sails and prepare for some exciting hockey on the weekend.
Arshdeep Bains scored a goal in the scrimmage as he got a few shifts alongside some NHLer.
The local kid who led the WHL in scoring last season is coming into his first year of professional hockey and is expected to be a contributor to the Abbotsford Canucks this season. Bains shows a good baseline in all areas of the ice and looks to have the smarts to go with it. He can see the way that plays develop in the offensive zone and has good enough hands to finish when an opportunity presents itself.
Bains is one of the names we are keying in on at Young Stars but some other names from today’s scrimmage to keep an eye on this weekend are Jett Woo, Linus Karlsson, Tristen Nielsen, Chad Nychuk, Arturs Silovs, and Nils Åman.
We will have a full preview of six players to watch at the Young Stars as well as another article from our conversations with Woo and Johnson coming to CanucksArmy in the coming days.
What was said
Elias Pettersson doesn’t want any excuses made for him.
When speaking about his slow start to last season, Pettersson didn’t want to talk about how some of the factors — such as his then-nagging wrist injury — were causing his poor play.
“I wasn’t playing with as much confidence as I always play with,” said Pettersson. “So with all the answers in hand, it sucks that it happened but like I’m also glad it happened because I got experience from it and I took myself out of it.
“I mean, we can be honest, my start last season wasn’t the way I wanted to start. And I was just — I’ve grown from that and learned like why it happened, and then why I had the second half of the season, why I played like that.
“It was basically two different me’s out there and I was just playing with a lot more confidence in the second half. So I’m somewhat happy I went through it, because I know how I got out of it, if that makes sense.”
We’ll have a full write-up on Elias Pettersson’s first meeting with the media this season dropping sometime this afternoon.