We have OHL record-breaking, happenings on the farm and what the future may hold. Here are your top three Vancouver Canucks prospects of the week.
Alright, we have quite a bit to cover today, so let’s get to it. The Vancouver Canucks have their prospects spread around the world and there’s an interesting story from several different leagues. We take ourselves across the Atlantic to Suomi (for those who don’t watch international hockey, that is what Finland is called in Finnish).
Let’s start with Toni Utunen and Tappara. Utunen scored his first career goal in Liiga. Yeah, I get it. He scored his first goal in January. To be fair, he had trouble getting into the lineup and was even loaned to Finland’s second tier league, Mestis during the season.
Remember, Utunen is a fifth round pick, but Canucks fans perked up when they saw him play at the World Juniors. Liiga likes to keep advanced stats and Tappara has some trouble generating shot attempts when he is on the ice. Liiga even keeps track of shot attempts for close (within one goal) and tied situations. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t favourable either. Still, he is an interesting player and we don’t get to hear about him often.
Moving state side, we look at the NCAA. Tyler Madden didn’t make the list this week, but he had a sweet OT winner over the weekend (bonus points for the kayak celebration after).
Quinn Hughes and the Michigan Wolverines were off for the weekend, but they hit some bad news. Their top centre Josh Norris suffered a season-ending injury. He was a huge part of their power play and if you are Will Lockwood, that’s where most of the points were coming from. The Wolverines were already in tough to make the NCAA Championship tournament. Barring a miracle, we could see Quinn Hughes in a Canucks jersey as early as the middle of March. It’s a silver lining for Canucks fans, but you have to feel for the fans in Michigan.
Your Utica update
Utica added a goalie to the roster. You may or may not remember Michael Leighton. The 37-year-old journeyman was added on a PTO last week. This is the same goalie that took the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. As they say around here, life moves fast. Leighton is not a permanent fix, so it will be intriguing to see where the situation goes from here.
The Utica Comets had a good week, winning two of three games, one of which against the division titans, the Syracuse Crunch. We’ll hear more about that later when we get to our number one spot. Only one Comet made the list this week, but here are some quick hits for other Canucks prospects.
Jonathan Dahlén and Kole Lind each had a pair of goals through three games. It had to happen eventually, but nobody is probably more relieved than Lind himself for finally getting his first career AHL goal.
These two are no longer prospects, but I can’t ignore what Brendan Gaunce (one goal, two assists) and Adam Gaudette (one goal, three assists) are doing in Utica. They are too good for the AHL and could replace two of my least favourite forwards on the Canucks. We are seeing glimpses of Tuesday Jim with a pair of minor trades in January. I want Tuesday Jim back for the deadline. Let’s go. Clear up that roster spot and harvest some picks.
Speaking of picks, let’s look at the selections I made with our top three prospects of the week.