Vancouver Canucks cut Juolevi and Gaudette; waive Gaunce

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5: Adam Gaudette #88 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena April 5, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5: Adam Gaudette #88 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena April 5, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /

Well, the Vancouver Canucks may have made waves with the most recent camp cuts. I won’t waste any time, let’s talk about Adam Gaudette, Olli Juolevi and Brendan Gaunce.

The Vancouver Canucks have one more game left for the preseason, but that did not stop them from making three significant cuts. Through a team announcement this morning, the Canucks announced that Adam Gaudette and Olli Juolevi were assigned to the Utica Comets and Brendan Gaunce was waived for re-assignment to the Comets.

Although, not officially announced, Thatcher Demko was not on the ice for practice this morning, so he is likely heading down soon. Sven Baertschi was also not at practice, so hopefully he is not facing an injury.

Until the decision on Demko, I’m only going to discuss the official cuts from today. Adam Gaudette had a real opportunity to make this roster. During his five-game stint to close out the season, he brought speed and skill to the Canucks bottom six. He was pointless, but people saw a lot of potential from the Hobey Baker winner.

Adam Gaudette

During the preseason, he didn’t grab his opportunity. I wouldn’t say he looked entirely out of place, but he definitely was not ready. Gaudette is still learning how to fit in Travis Green’s system and being unable to generate much at even strength didn’t help. Although, most of the Canucks failed to do that. But at times, Gaudette was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Brock Boeser set a high bar with his debut, but he produced immediately during that nine-game run. Gaudette is still very much raw and hopefully, he will get to log heavy minutes in Utica’s top six. It is better than being routinely scratched in the NHL.

Now, would not signing Jay Beagle leave a spot open for Gaudette? Sure. But if we being honest here, I don’t think Gaudette did enough to earn a roster spot. He shouldn’t worry since injuries will force several call ups late in the season. Although, another cut may push Gaudette down the list.

Olli Juolevi

I’m trying to come up with a way to talk about this tactfully. It would have been great if Juolevi could push his way onto the roster. What an incredible story that could have been. Recovering from back surgery after a bounce back season in the Finnish Liiga and forcing the Canucks to make good on their promise and move out a veteran.

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Unfortunately, that did not happen. There was a slim chance of that happening. Juolevi had six fewer weeks of training than everybody else. I want to just give Juolevi a pass, but this is the third year after his draft. If he wasn’t a former fifth overall pick, he wouldn’t have any criticism. Juolevi would not be talked about this intensely if he was selected 35th overall instead of fifth.

But for those upset with him being cut, what did you see from him this preseason? Here is what I saw. A player who was timid along the boards, soft, for lack of a better word. Someone who didn’t time his pinches correctly and a player that gave up on defending when an opposing player beat him to the inside. Did you notice that Juolevi rarely played? That’s not a good sign when you are trying to make the team. To me he probably should have been cut earlier, but that wouldn’t be the best of public relations moves.

A year in Utica will be good for him, even though his development has been so much slower than his higher profile peers. Playing in a European professional league did not guarantee that he was ready for the NHL. If you want a good benchmark for Juolevi, look up the stats for Sami Niku of the Winnipeg Jets. He was the second best defenceman last season in the AHL at the age of 20 (same as Juolevi now). He put up 54 points in 76 games (0.71 points per game). If you still have expectations for the Finnish defencemen, there’s the bar.

Brendan Gaunce

Well, I can’t say this was a surprise. This was the preseason where Gaunce could have displaced one of the established veterans on the roster. Offensively he contributes next to nothing, but his work on defence and low salary made him a moderately valuable fourth line player.

The competition was not tough to beat. Of course, Tyler Motte likely pushed Gaunce out of the coach’s eye, but the we have to see this for what it is. The signing of Jay Beagle probably signaled the end of Gaunce’s time with Vancouver. But it didn’t help Gaunce to be as invisible as he was this preseason.

He has nobody to blame but himself. I may not be impressed with Beagle, but I said countless times that if younger players played well, it did not guarantee a spot due to contracts. But Gaunce failed to stand out. Now that he is on waivers, I don’t think an NHL team will claim him. So, I guess Utica will run with Gaunce and Gaudette as their top two centres.

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29 players remain. From here on out, the cuts get more interesting. I would say the margin for error is thin, but it’s not like the selection pool is exceptional-the final spot is on the fourth line. At this point, I’m just curious who will be waived next. Maybe Jim Benning has a trick up his sleeve. He never showed any indication of being crafty before, but hey, I didn’t think he would outlast Trevor Linden. I guess anything can happen.

*UPDATE: Thatcher Demko was diagnosed with a concussion from the Calgary game