There will be exciting things to look forward to in the 2018-19 season. The arrival of a prospect pool that is finally beginning to take shape will partially come to fruition whether that be with the Canucks or down in Utica with the Comets.
There’s a lot to be excited for with the young crop of future Vancouver Canucks and, I’m going to break down the first part of my top three things to be excited for going into next season.
The Canucks have been one of the better drafting teams since 2015, not the best but one in top portion of the league. The Canucks have excelled when it comes to drafting exciting player in the later rounds such as Lukas Jasek, Petrus Palmu, Adam Gaudette and very recently Toni Utunen. Hitting on some of you later round picks can really develop a winning team’s depth and it’s a skill that Jim Benning and his scouting team have shined in over the years.
Canuck fans will get a good look as some of these guys this upcoming season, we have heard about the amazing things that Canucks prospects have been up to in other leagues. Next year we will get a chance to see a lot of them in the North American professional leagues. That’s going to bring me into my first thing to be excited about for the Vancouver Canucks and it’s not even about the Canucks.
I’m excited about the Utica Comets.
UTICA! UTICA! UTICA!
This is the first time that the Canucks have had a good group of prospects in their AHL roster since I can remember, if you can think of a better time please let me know in the comments. This years roster will include Petrus Palmu, Lukas Jasek, Adam Gaudette, Jonathan Dahlen, Olli Juolevi, Guillame Brisebois, Ashton Sautner, Jalen Chatfield, Kole Lind, Thatcher Demko, Jonah Gadjovich, Zack MacEwen and Michael Carcone. It’s an exciting group of guys who will be playing a flashy time of AHL game.
The forward group starts with Dahlen, Palmu, Lind and MacEwen. These guys will be the offensive straw that stirs the drink down in Utica, these players should all get a good amount of power play time together and have the chance to build some chemisty.
Zack MacEwen in an interesting piece for me, I sat down with Cory Hergott who covers the Utica Comets and we got into MacEwan a bit, he said “I like what I’ve seen as far as his improvement, his skating improved by leaps and bounds, he was closing in on pucks at the end of the year that he never would have got to at the start of the year.”
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Utica will likely have the former fifth overall pick Olli Juolevi to begin the season, us as Canucks fans have been waiting to see him come over the North American professional leagues and next season will be that time.
Juolevi will have a lot to prove, we’ve heard from Sami Salo about what Juolevi needs to do to take his game to the next level, Salo said “His play in his own end will be the biggest hurdle I think for him.
He needs a big summer, get in better physical shape, conditioning, stronger and quicker. Lots of work to be done, the next step is big.”
This was said before Juolevi’s back injury occurred, so expect an AHL start for the young Finnish defenceman and with the addition of Quinn Hughes to the Canucks roster that just takes up another spot that Juolevi was trying for on the squad.
I think Hughes is going to be on the roster, I’ll get into that in a later article.
Utica will be exciting this year, it’s a team that will be filled with potential NHL players and getting to see those players develop in their young 20’s as professionals is fun to watch! For a lot of these guys it will be their first time playing against men, I can’t wait to see what guys like Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich will do in their first full season against professionals in the AHL.
The team will be backstopped by Thatcher Demko, who already is one of the best goaltenders in the AHL and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get a run of games late in the season with the Canucks.
As for now though, Demko will be the guy in Utica. He will play a ton of games and get his game absolutely primed to the maximum for the NHL game, Canucks fans should be proud of how Demko has developed. It’s been a long road but this is a great example on how you go through development with a young goaltender.
We will likely see some of the young talent called up to the Canucks, whether that be to injury or performance based, only time will tell.
I’m betting injury sadly…
Dahlen, Gaudette and Juolevi will more than likely see time with the big squad at some point during the season but a little time at the AHL level will be good to all these guys as they develop.
This Utica team has me excited! I’m following all these new insiders on Twitter that do a great job covering the Comets, digging more in depth about the coaching staff and the work that Ryan Johnson does there as the Comets’ General Manager.
It’s a young mans game and this is a young man’s team, Utica will be a playoff team next year and when I was wrapping up my sit down with Cory Hergott I asked him about the chances of the Comets winning the Calder Cup.
“I’m hoping the kids will get all the time in the world next year,” he said. “I think if all goes right they could absolutely be there for the Calder cup final. We’ve got rookies coming in to Utica but a lot of these rookies have already played against men.”
In conclusion this Utica team deserves a following and deserves some excitement, there are at least a handful of guys that will be in a Canucks jersey sooner than you think.
We have something to be excited about with our AHL team right now and that is something we haven’t had for at least 10 years in my opinion. The team has some long time professionals and the combination of those guys mixed in with the young talent will make the Comets a must follow next year.
Let me know in the comments the thing you are most excited about in Utica! Part two of this exciting series will be coming soon, where we will get into the young players that will be making an immediate impact on the Canucks.