Vancouver Canucks Prospects Watch: Three Stars of November


The Vancouver Canucks might have to thank their old GM Mike Gillis for leaving behind some promising prospects.With injuries taking their toll on the Canucks in November, fans got little glimpses of their NHL-near prospects.

Besides the trio of Virtanen, McCann, and Hutton, three other Canucks have managed to play their first game with the Vancouver Canucks so far this season: Alex Grenier, Brendan Gaunce, and Hunter Shinkaruk. Before getting to the three stars of November, let’s take time to recognize these ‘late bloomers’ – if you will, that Mike Gillis has left us to enjoy.

Alex Grenier looked fantastic in his game against the Winnipeg Jets. He managed to get four shots on net in just 8:52 of ice time, and threw his weight around on the ice confidently. I was mildly surprised to see him credited with only one hit. There were many moments when the 6’5″ 210lbs right-winger bumped the Jets defenseman into the boards and pressured them to miss their break-out passes. Canucks fans might not mind seeing him stick with the team as the 4th line winger in Prust’s slot when Cracknell can’t play the checking wing. When Prust’s contract runs out this year or traded at the trade deadline, don’t be surprised if Grenier jumps right on.

Brendan Gaunce played against the Stars and the Coyotes, registering a goal in two shots. Averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time per game, Gaunce looked decent overall. The best thing about his game might be his ability to get to the front of the net and do the dirty work – which is not often characteristic of 1st-round draft picks, but nevertheless, a good trait to have as a forward. Jim Benning will have a hard time keeping Gaunce off the NHL roster next year. The biggest knock on Gaunce was his skating ability, and he seems to have it figured out now. He also went 2-for-2 on faceoffs during his time up with the Vancouver Canucks.

No. 3 Hunter Shinkaruk: 5GP, 5 Goals and 3 Assists in November

Third on our November prospects list is Hunter Shinkaruk, who had his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens on November 16th. Even after a brief call-up to the Vancouver Canucks, his 16 points in 15 games for Utica is team-leading, and so is his 11 goals. Of course, his taste of the NHL didn’t get him points, but Shinkaruk now finds himself on the top of list of NHL-ready forward prospects, after a couple troubling years set back by injuries and surgeries.

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Again, I was hoping that Shinkaruk would make it hard on the management to send him down to Utica. Had he gotten points that night against the Canadiens, he might have stuck for a bit longer. That could have meant that a veteran became expendable, and that could have been a trade right there. Just like with Grenier’s case, the Vancouver Canucks are so tight with roster space right now, that if one more young guy sticks to the team, it is bound to lead to a veteran getting moved.

I guess we will have to wait yet another year for Shinkaruk. He might turn out to be a serviceable 2nd line scoring winger for the Vancouver Canucks. But folks, we are talking at least 2 – 3 years from now.

Interesting to note that Grenier, Gaunce, and Shinkaruk are all Mike Gillis’s picks. Grenier in 2011, 3rd round. Gaunce in 2012, 26th overall. Shinkaruk in 2013, 24th overall.

No. 2 Guilluame Brisebois: 8GP, 3 Goals and 4 Assists in November

After a troubling start to his season, Brisebois is picking up some steam.

Coming off of a slow start to his QMJHL season (3 points in 15 games), the 66th overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft had a nice month of hockey, capped by this beauty of a goal.


Hopefully Brisebois can continue picking up steam. He will forever be remembered for how he got here – at the expense of Eddie Lack, who is actually not off to a good start in his back-up role for the Carolina Hurricanes. The former Vancouver Canucks fan-favourite has just one win in six games, with an underwhelming .875 Sv% and 3.30 GAA.

No.1 Brock Boeser: 7GP, 2 Goals and 5 Assists

Brock Boeser’s October was all about goal scoring. His November seems to be about racking up assists. He continued his point-per-game production for the second month in a row. Thanks to his play, the NCAA D1 North Dakota team is 10-2-2 on the season, capped by this play that was named Top Play of the Week. #16 Boeser makes a nice pass to the trailer right after the zone entry, and caps off the play with a nice feed across the goalmouth.

The NCAA pool has been great this year. I just can’t wait for Boeser and Demko to surprise the heck out of the NHL in a few seasons. Demko has cooled off a bit, the 19-year-old now boasts a .956Sv% and a 1.17 GAA.

Perhaps lost in the fact that the QMJHL is a high-offfense league are the performances of two other Vancouver Canucks prospects, Dmitri Zhukenov and Carl Neill. Center Zhukenov was a plus-1 in 8 games for the QMJHL Chicoutimi while racking up 2 goals and 5 assists. Defenseman Neill had 2 goals and 6 assists in seven games for QMJHL Sherbrooke, but a minus-5 for the month.

Starting December, TheCanuckWay will be bringing you a lot more coverage, breaking news, team analysis, prospects watch, and exciting player analysis of your Vancouver Canucks. Follow us on Twitter @FSTheCanuckWay, and don’t forget to subscribe!