No. 1 – Zack MacEwen (RW) (Utica Comets, AHL)
We conclude today’s report with Zack MacEwen. Whether you want to call him Big Z, The Big Fella or whatever clever nickname you have in mind, he has been a prime example of prospect development on the Utica Comets. While everyone was tripping over themselves over the bigger name prospects struggling, MacEwen blew past it all.
It really is a disservice that the petty squabbling about deployment largely ignored how well MacEwen played this season. I would love to see him get an NHL call up this season. He is an incredible energy guy who deserves a chance. MacEwen is fast, tenacious and has a scoring touch that has paid off dividends this season.
By no means will he be an offensive threat at the NHL level, but by giving him a chance, the Canucks can use him as a good example of what working hard looks like. You want players to buy in on the farm, point to the undrafted player that accelerated his development curve faster than any non-first rounder in the pipeline. He didn’t even play four years of major junior before Judd Brackett saw something special in him.
Through those three games last week, MacEwen had a goal and three assists (same as Gaudette). The great thing about him is consistency. He doesn’t go on long droughts like some of his teammates and can be relied upon for a much needed jolt late in the game.
He’s tough, but not a goon. He has skill, but doesn’t dangle. Honestly, he’s just fun to watch and is the type of player I refer to when we are seeing veterans block younger players. This also applies to Gaunce and Gaudette, who are proving the AHL is no longer enough for them. I don’t think MacEwen is quite at that point yet, but he has certainly earned a call up.
He will get his chance. But with the Canucks so focused on a playoff spot, I have to wonder if that chance will be later rather than sooner. It’s part of the reason why I’m not thrilled about a playoff push. Deep down, Canucks fans have to know that the team won’t hand the keys over to the kids.
They could be sellers and call up the young guns. Not all of them, especially on defence. But teams have sold and still made the playoffs in the past. It’s a thought that Jim Benning should consider, but I’ll believe it when I see it. One day they will get their chance. I just hope it’s in a Canucks jersey.