Vancouver Canucks: Petrus Palmu will finish the season in Finland

LAVAL, QC, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2: Petrus Palmu #52 of the Utica Comets leading the rush with Evan McEneny #2 of the Utica Comets and Carter Bancks #34 of the Utica Comets against the Laval Rocket at Place Bell on November 2, 2018 in Laval, Quebec. (Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images)
LAVAL, QC, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2: Petrus Palmu #52 of the Utica Comets leading the rush with Evan McEneny #2 of the Utica Comets and Carter Bancks #34 of the Utica Comets against the Laval Rocket at Place Bell on November 2, 2018 in Laval, Quebec. (Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images) /

A Vancouver Canucks prospect dissatisfied with his lack of playing time heads back to Finland. Petrus Palmu may be an important lesson on league strengths and a debate on development.

Well, that didn’t take long. The Vancouver Canucks will have one less prospect on the Utica Comets roster. Rick Dhaliwal let us know that Petrus Palmu is heading back to Finland for the rest of the season.

A couple things popped up with this news, but let’s first focus on what Palmu did (or didn’t do). Only appearing in 12 games this season, Palmu has picked up one assist. He wasn’t producing and was often handed healthy scratches.

From rookie of the year in Finland to the AHL doghouse, I can understand why he is upset. All players simply want to play and Palmu was doing little of that. It’s a bit of a catch-22 we hear from coaches that frustrates players and fans. Player X is not playing because he is not earning ice time from the coach. But Player X can’t earn ice time if he’s not playing.

Honestly, if you’re being billed as a skilled offensive player, one point in 12 games isn’t going to cut it. I get that we were all excited thanks to the Summer Showdown and Young Stars. I was all aboard the Petrus Palmu hype train. But look back to Canucks training camp. He was awful. Nearly every prospect was awful and were nowhere close to the NHL. Is it really a surprise that so many of the prospects that make up the “middle tier” have flopped so hard? It shouldn’t.

Let’s be honest, it’s not like Palmu was coming into training camp like he was Elias Pettersson. Palmu was not setting records, did not lead the league and was 21 years old. He’s a sixth round pick for crying out loud. Even if the NHL is now making room for smaller players, those same players have to prove they can stick in the AHL, let alone the big leagues. Palmu didn’t do that.

Developing the “right” way

To begin, it’s no secret that I find any way I can to criticize how this management group operates. I don’t think they are doing a good job and often make the same mistakes. However, this is one of the few times where the onus is on the player and not the organization.

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In Rick’s tweet, he threw a little jab at the end, “Better to play than sit.” It’s something angry Canucks fans have echoed when they first figured out that prospects were being scratched with regularity down in Utica.

“The Canucks own the team!” “How do you expect to develop prospects if they never play?” It goes on and on and on. Personally, I think these angry fans are missing the point. Let’s look at the Comets roster. There are way to many wingers. Since the Canucks lack centres in the prospect pool (especially when they are called up), there is not a tonne of room out there.

We keep seeing suggestions of benching Comets captain, Carter Bancks. You’re a fool if you think that’s going to happen. He has been moved to the wing, which robs a spot. You are not sitting Zack MacEwen or Tanner MacMaster, two players who have been carrying this team. Neither do you sit Reid Boucher or Darren Archibald so a prospect can play.

There is also a fact that some Canucks fans won’t accept. Maybe, these prospects aren’t good enough for the AHL. That’s what I think and one critique I do have for the organization is questioning why the ECHL is not an option. The pool isn’t as deep as Tampa Bay’s. So I don’t think it’s fair to use them as a comparison since people only highlight the successes and not failures. They can afford to have those failures thanks to depth. The Comets, not so much.

I have time for the argument that promotes playing time. Just have them do it one level down. The kids can learn a lot from video and practice, but if you are desperate to see them play, send them to the ECHL. I’m not sure if that was an option Palmu considered. But is should be something the Canucks consider if their prospects struggle.

Lastly, I just want to end things off by hoping that Canucks can see the differences between the Finnish Liiga and the AHL. The gap in speed and skill is huge and that doesn’t even speak to the jump between the AHL and the NHL. Does Palmu have a future in the organization? Maybe. But it’s not up to them to make room for Palmu on the Comets next year.

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He has to beat out the rest of the roster. And don’t tell me that he has, because I would call you a liar. Palmu can’t play bottom six minutes in the AHL and it didn’t produce with the time he had. I wish the AHL tracked shot metrics to give us better underlying data, but it’s not there. Maybe he didn’t get an opportunity, or maybe he just isn’t good enough.