Multiple sources in the hockey world believe that Harvard d-man Jack Rathbone has what it takes to make the Vancouver Canucks’ roster as early as next season.
Play another year at Harvard College, or sign an entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks for a chance to play in the National Hockey League? That’s the question staring 21-year-old Jack Rathbone straight in the face right now.
Known as one of the top Vancouver prospects right now, Rathbone had another excellent season playing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After an impressive rookie campaign earned him 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) through 33 games in 2018-19, Rathbone returned for action with an entirely new gear in his repertoire.
Playing five fewer games in the 2019-20 season, Rathbone crushed his previous best by nine after successfully putting up a ridiculous 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists). To put his college game into perspective, when Quinn Hughes played for the University of Michigan for his second season, he tallied 33 points in 32 games.
Now, I’m not saying Rathbone is on the same level as the already great Huggy Bear (they play completely different styles), but the similarities in point production at the college level is definitely a good starting point for things worth getting excited about. His ability to become a reliable two-way defender this season has skyrocketed his value into the category of the Canucks’ top prospect.
Hockey insider, Rick Dhaliwal is high on Rathbone. The more people he talks to, the more he believes in this kid, and I’ve learned not to take anything Dhaliwal says lightly. Discussing the American’s game in further detail, an NCAA scout had plenty of good things to say about Rathbone.
“Great pick by the (Vancouver) Canucks, great kid who comes from a great family. He is a slick puck-moving defenseman who defends well. Offensively he is really good as well, has a bomb of a shot from the point. He passes like a pro.”
Thomas Drance, who’s a bit of a Canucks specialist and a writer for The Athletic is another insider who sees big plans for Rathbone and the city of Vancouver. He even goes as far as to say he’s a player that the Canucks not only want but more so need. He’s a marginal prospect worth getting amped about. He’s got wheels and he has what it takes to crack the line up next year.
From the people who watch the kid play on a regular basis, it sounds like he’s showing some signs of real promise. Because of that and a few other different reasons, Jim Benning and the Vancouver Canucks should do whatever they can to make sure they sign this guy.
Hughes will have the top-pairing locked down for the next decade or so, but beyond the aging Alex Edler, the left side is beginning to run thin. The development of Olli Juolevi as a regular NHLer still has it’s question marks, and adding Rathbone to the mix could be the perfect dose of friendly competition for the both of them.
What do you think Canucks Nation? Does Rathbone have what it takes to make the jump next season? Let us know in the comments.