The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a youth movement. So, let’s take a look at the club’s top youngsters!
If the Vancouver Canucks want to make their ‘rebuild on the fly’ work, they need a strong foundation of young roster players. We all know the Bo Horvats and Ben Huttons of the team, but what’s after that? How are things for the AHL Utica Comets and what can we expect from the Canucks’ next crop of youngsters?
To answer those questions, our staff ranked all signed Vancouver Canucks players under the age of 25. After compiling a list of the top 10 Canucks prospects recently, this is all about who can help today. And guess what, the Canucks only have a total of 26 players under 25 signed and playing in North America right now.
Next up is former Phoenix Coyotes draft pick Yan-Pavel Laplante, who was signed as a free agent by the Canucks this summer.
#20 – Yan-Pavel Laplante
Position: Left Wing, Center
Team: Utica Comets (AHL)
NHL Experience: 0 Games
How He Got Here
Yan-Pavel Laplante has been taking a tough road to the pro level. After playing a solid rookie season with the QMJHL’s P.E.I. Rocket in 2011-12, Laplante missed all but 18 games the year after. Unfortunately, that year after was his NHL draft season.
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In 2012-13, Laplante had five goals and 13 points in 18 regular-season games, and added three goals and five points in six playoff contests. He sure would have liked more time to show teams he’s worth a high draft pick, but at the end of the day, he could be extremely happy when the Arizona Coyotes selected him early in the third round, 62nd overall.
Laplante split the following season between the Rocket and the Victoriaville Tigres, and even got to play in six games for Arizona’s AHL affiliate on a tryout basis. However, the Coyotes never opted to sign him, and Laplante went back to the ‘Q’, yet again splitting the season between two teams — this time, the Tigres and the Gatineau Olympiques.
Following a fifth junior season, finally sticking with one team, the Vancouver Canucks decided to sign Laplante. The 6-foot, 183-pound forward had 34 goals and 65 points in 63 games while displaying great all-around play. For an overage player, 65 points aren’t outstanding, but the overall package looks promising.
Where He Is Today
Laplante is a typical “let’s get someone for free and see where it goes” signing. The Canucks didn’t have to surrender any pieces to get a young, promising winger. But, there are also no guarantees that he can make the Canucks (ever) or even make the Utica Comets in his first year.
Vancouver signed Laplante to his first professional contract, making it an entry-level deal. What that does is give the Canucks the option to send Laplante to their new ECHL affiliate, the Alaska Aces, as well. Laplante is pencilled in for the Comets, but you never know.
Where He’s Headed
As said, Laplante didn’t have outstanding offensive numbers in his final junior year. Throughout his QMJHL career, he got close to a point per game but never surpassed that mark until his 21-year-old season. Hence, expecting big things from him offensively right off the bat would be wrong.
Laplante is a solid all-around player who will need to take every chance he can get to make a name for himself soon. The talent is definitely there, which is why he was once picked 62nd in the NHL draft, but there are plenty of drafted players who never make it to ‘the show’.
Expect Laplante to start the season in Utica in a bottom-nine role, starting to work his way up the depth chart. An ECHL stint wouldn’t be terrible either, and it’s certainly a possibility.