2018 TCW Vancouver Canucks prospect report cards

Sweden Patric Hornqvist (R) vies with United States' Quinn Hughes during the semifinal match Sweden vs USA of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 19, 2018. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Sweden Patric Hornqvist (R) vies with United States' Quinn Hughes during the semifinal match Sweden vs USA of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 19, 2018. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images) /
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Matt Brassard (RD), Oshawa Generals (OHL)

If you catch our prospect reports, you know I have a keen interest in Matt Brassard. He was a shot machine last year and has done the same this season. Brassard is sixth among all OHL defencemen in shots with 98 and averages 3.4 per game. In 29 games he has six goals and 21 points. The Canucks took an interesting chance on a second year player and we will see if he is signed by next June.

Grade: B+

Guillaume Brisebois (LD), Utica Comets (AHL)

Guillaume Brisebois has been a steady defenceman for the Comets this season. He may only have seven points in 29 games, but offence was not a strength he would bring to the NHL. Although, his production does seem rather low, but he has shown that he is defensively responsible, can add a physical edge and can move effectively out there.

The Canucks organization overhypes the kid since it was during a time when the pipeline had nearly nothing on defence. As long as Benning is here, the 2015 third rounder will get every chance to succeed. I think he could play a 6/7 D role on an NHL team one day, but at the very least, he can become a stable partner for the next wave of Canucks rookies on the farm.

Grade: B

Jalen Chatfield (RD), Utica Comets (AHL)

The Canucks took a chance on undrafted defenceman Jalen Chatfield. He had a rough rookie season in Utica and looked to build on it this year. Unfortunately, with a point in 13 games and likely out long term with an injury, there isn’t much to expect from him this season.

Grade: C-

Kristoffer Gunnarsson (LD), Frölunda/Linköping HC (SHL)

There’s not a lot to say about Kristoffer Gunnarsson. He nearly set a record in SHL futility, but finally has a point in his career. Yes, he has one point in 87 career games. I am very close to just calling him a bust, but the Canucks do retain his rights until 2021.

Grade: C-

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Quinn Hughes (LD), Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)

What can’t I say about Quinn Hughes that hasn’t been done already. If you are able to, watch this kid play live. Try to catch every Team USA game, whether it’s on TV or live. He is a treat to watch and the creativity and control he has with the puck is incredible.

Hughes is tied for second among all NCAA defenders with 20 points in 17 games. First place has 21 points. He is the backbone of Michigan’s deadly power play and a selfish part of me wants to see an early exit for the Wolverines so the Canucks can sign him in March. And with that goaltending, we might get our wish.

Hughes is truly special and if the dream of uniting him with his brother can’t come true, the Canucks will still have a scary power play going forward. Imagine having Pettersson and Boeser being fed pucks by an incredible distributor like Hughes.

I could go on and on, but here’s the tl;dr. Quinn Hughes is amazing. He’s dynamic and yes, he will make defensive mistakes. But he has too much offensive talent to be weighed down by that. He may be small, but his elusive skating will protect him out there.

Grade: A+

Olli Juolevi (LD), Utica Comets (AHL)

Life isn’t fair for Olli Juolevi. The former fifth overall pick has been slow in his development. As he sees his peers and countrymen jump into the league faster than he has, the young man has to deal with injuries.

His back surgery in the summer hurt his offseason training, but he had no problem putting up numbers in the AHL. I used Sami Niku as a comparison and before Juolevi’s knee surgery, he was keeping pace. At one point, he was leading rookie defencemen. It’s a shame that this important developmental season was cut short by another surgery.

Juolevi had 13 points in 18 games (1 G, 12 A). He had a lot of points on the power play and the big critique from him was what he did away from the puck. I complained about his mobility, so hopefully the surgery can fix those issues. It’s not easy to have your development halted by two surgeries so close together, and he was finally putting things together. C’est la vie, as the French say.

Grade: A-

Jack Rathbone (LD), Harvard Crimson (NCAA)

Jack Rathbone has had a solid start to his NCAA career. In his draft+2 season, Rathbone has three goals and nine points in 11 games. Those are good freshman numbers and it’s nice to see the Canucks have multiple defensive prospects in a pool that was missing them for a long time. We’ll see how he continues to build from here.

Grade: B+

Ashton Sautner (RD), Utica Comets (AHL)

Ashton Sautner was one of the best defencemen for the Utica Comets this year. Building on a very good season last year, he took what he learned from his NHL call up and has taken a huge step for the Comets. Remember, he was an undrafted player signed by the team.

You don’t see it in the point totals (six points in 25 games), but his defensive play has been incredible. Now out for the long term with facial fractures, the Comets won’t see him return soon. They are going to miss them as they dive into the ECHL free agent pool.

Grade: B

Toni Utunen (LD), Tappara (Liiga)/LeKi (Mestis)

I didn’t know much about Toni Utunen when the Canucks drafted him. He had international experience at the U18’s and will likely play at the World Juniors in Vancouver. Based on his point totals (one point in 21 games with Tappara), it doesn’t seem like he is progressing like he hoped. It probably doesn’t help that he was loaned to a team in Finland’s second tier league, Mestis.

Grade: C+

Jett Woo (RD), Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Jett Woo has come as advertised. Technically, there were better players available from that 2018 draft. A lot of players who fell out of the first round. However, Woo has been very good this season. When he started the season injured, I was a little concerned, but he picked up almost immediately.

Based on interviews, I can see why the Canucks drafted him. He can easily become a fan favourite even if his offensive upside is not the highest. With that said, Woo has definitely crossed the minimum threshold for junior hockey players. It’s hard to project how much impact a player will have in the NHL based on games against kids, but we will see him in Utica in a couple of years.

I like how motivated he is and how he took the snub from Hockey Canada to be the WHL’s player of the week. He’s physical, has a lot of energy and the crowd already loves him.

Grade: B+