Canucks roundtable: Which prospect makes the team next year?

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 03: The Vancouver Canucks stand for the national anthem prior to Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round against the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on September 03, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 03: The Vancouver Canucks stand for the national anthem prior to Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round against the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on September 03, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Vancouver Canucks bench boss Travis Green looks on during a pause in play. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks bench boss Travis Green looks on during a pause in play. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

Jack Rathbone

If I had to pick one rookie to make the Canucks out of camp, it would be Jack Rathbone. Rathbone had a pretty good spell with Harvard University. The Canucks fourth-round pick in 2017 had seven goals and 24 goals in 31 games last season. He was signed last July.

There are a lot of things to like about Rathbone’s game. The one thing that makes him stand out is his skating because he has excellent stride. It might not be “Quinn Hughes level” but it is still a treat to watch. Rathbone also has great passing skills, hockey IQ and he possesses a big shot.

He is a defenceman who can provide offence and quarterback a power play. Rathbone is also very good on the defensive side as well. He is very good at transitioning from offence to defence and vice versa. Rathbone can create turnovers, poke check and occasionally throw the body around.

The Canucks could use his two-way game next season and he could play on the bottom pairing. Rathbone has good qualities and I would like to see him put them on display next year.

– Joshua Rey

Brogan Rafferty

Brogan Rafferty made a surprisingly seamless transition to professional hockey this past year. After going undrafted, he managed to improve as the years went on and gained experience over three seasons in the NCAA playing for Quinnipiac University before exploding offensively in his first AHL season.

Rafferty notched 45 points in 57 games for the Utica Comets, earning an AHL second all-star team nomination and the recognition from Canucks fans. He was never given a proper shot to take the next step and play for the NHL club this year, but that was partially due to the fact that the Canucks defensive core remarkably managed to stay healthy this season, and management felt that it would be better for him to stay in the minors to continue improving his game.

By the beginning of the upcoming NHL season, whenever that may be, I feel that Brogan will be capable of grabbing a roster spot. He’s experienced two Canucks training camps, so he’s already gotten his feet wet when it comes to playing with full-time NHLers. It also isn’t likely that both Tanev and Stecher return after free agency, so there are holes on the right side of Vancouver’s defence that will need to be filled.

Simply put, the Canucks need someone like Rafferty to make the jump to the big leagues, as replacing a departing defender internally would be a huge boost for the team. With his dynamic offensive skills and some hopeful tweaks to his defensive game, the 25-year old has the ability to seize the opportunity.

– Lucas Celle

Zack MacEwen

Just three games before the 2019-20 NHL season was ended, on March 6th MacEwen scored two goals and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-3. Inside Rogers Arena, on the best night of his NHL career, it was a statement game for the “Big Fella” and now there are reasons to believe he’s all but solidified himself as an NHL regular.

Under the NHL rule, MacEwen will still be considered a rookie next year because he played less than 25 games, but at this point, a spot in the lineup will be his to lose. His performance in the playoffs wasn’t exactly what people wanted to see, but there is a general overall liking to him amongst the fanbase and he’s proven that he’s not afraid to fight. He dropped the mitts on four separate occasions and with him standing at 6’3 and weighing 205 pounds, he’s a welcome addition to the bottom-six.

He tallied six points (five goals and one assist) in 17 games in a Canucks uniform this season. At times, he showed flashes of offensive capabilities and was a player who could slot in up and down the lineup. He’ll need to continue working on his play away from the puck if he wants to stick around long-term, but I see enough trust between Green and MacEwen that earns him a long hard look to start the year. There will be some holes on the right-wing to fill and this will be MacEwen’s time to shine.

– Brayden Ursel

Next. The Canuck Way mailbag: Podkolzin, Ryan, more. dark

The votes are split and these players will have every chance to earn a roster spot next season. It’s a ways away, but as of right now, these are our predictions. Who do you think has the best chance of making the team?