Vancouver Canucks: Early takeaways from preseason action

VANCOUVER, BC - SEPTEMBER 17: Jake Virtanen /

The Vancouver Canucks have completed four of eight preseason games. Though it’s still early, we’ve already witnessed some intriguing developments from the kids.

This has been one of the more intriguing preseasons for the Vancouver Canucks, who are prepared to enter a season of vast uncertainty.

Most years, they already have most of their roster settled and are just trying to see which young players will nab the last two or three spots. This year, there are plenty of openings available. While 2015 first rounder Brock Boeser has all but locked up his roster spot, we’re waiting to see what happens to the likes of Jake Virtanen, Olli Juolevi and Jordan Subban.

Considering the Canucks have a cluster of forwards, we’re also not sure if the likes of Reid Boucher, Jayson Megna, Michael Chaput, Scottie Upshall or Ryan White are Canucks come the season opener on Oct. 7.

A lot can happen between now and next Saturday (the final preseason game), but we’ve already learned quite a bit about this team in the meaningless games. Here are some of those key takeaways.

Brock Boeser is in

Well, Boeser is totally going to make the NHL now. He’s up to four goals through his first three preseason games. Boeser has picked up right where he left off in 2016-17, when he scored four goals in just nine games.

Boeser brings terrific speed and a world class shot to his game, which the Canucks desperately need on the ice. He’s already the best goal-scorer on this team, and the 2015 first rounder has shown he’s mature enough to handle a full season in the pros.

Related Story: Vancouver Canucks: Brock Boeser proves he's ready for NHL

It’s not just that Boeser should be playing in the NHL next season. It’s that he could be their best player already, and he’s undoubtedly worthy of playing on the top line with Bo Horvat.

With a dominant first three preseason games, Boeser has shown he’s ready for the NHL. At this point, it’s essentially a guarantee that he makes the team.

Disappointing defencemen

The Canucks came into preseason with a practically set blue line. Alexander Edler, Chris Tanev, Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton, Erik Gudbranson and Michael Del Zotto were not going to lose jobs to Subban or Juolevi. Not a chance.

Still, the Canucks were hoping that their two d-men prospects would be able to show some maturity and growth in their respective games.

But Subban and Juolevi have done next-to-nothing in preseason that would “wow” the coaches. Subban was drafted in 2013 and has yet to play an NHL game. Juolevi was drafted over Matthew Tkachuk, and still hasn’t progressed much.

Once again, Canucks fans will have to wait a while to see what Juolevi and Subban are made of. It’s already worth being concerned about both guys struggling at this stage.

Virtanen looks good

While Subban and Juolevi struggle, Jake Virtanen looks poised to finally crack the Canucks roster. He’s scored two goals and a pair of assists through his first three preseason games. The confidence and poise are there. This is what we’ve been waiting for.

The Canucks drafted Virtanen sixth overall in 2014, hoping he’d develop as a hard-hitter/scorer. His right-handed shot is a big weapon, when he uses it accordingly.

At this point, Virtanen would make more sense to be in the opening day lineup as opposed to a player like Megna. He’s got more upside and did his time in the AHL. The coaches need to give him his chance now.

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There’s still a ways to go until the regular season, but you have to love how motivated and dominant Virtanen has looked so far.