Canucks: Jack Rathbone looked good in his NHL debut versus the Oilers

May 4, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Jack Rathbone (3) skates against the Edmonton Oilers in his NHL debut during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Jack Rathbone (3) skates against the Edmonton Oilers in his NHL debut during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Jack Rathbone made his NHL debut on Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers, and although the Vancouver Canucks didn’t pull out the win, the young blueliner played a solid game and he gives Canucks fans something to look forward to.

Coming into the biggest night of his young career, Rathbone would need to turn to the skills that got him there — his elite skating ability, his break-out passing, and his offensive nose for the net, all of which earned him nine points (2G, 7A) in eight games with the Utica Comets.

"“I’m excited for him. He has the look of a young offensive D-man and he’s a gamer. He’s a strong skater and has good puck skills and a really good release. We haven’t had a real solid look at him — even in practice — but you can just tell he loves coming to the rink and being around the team.”Head Coach Travis Green"

Slotting in and taking the place of Finnish rookie, Olli Juolevi, the Boston-born Rathbone debuted on the left side of Tyler Myers. Together they formed an offensive-minded third pairing for the Canucks, and Rathbone sported Kevin Bieksa‘s old number 3.

And just like it’s been trending all across the National Hockey League this week, the 21-year-old took to the ice for his lone rookie lap without wearing a helmet (an inside joke amongst NHL veterans). The hair was flowing, and Rathbone got his 15-seconds of feathered glory.

The game got going and Rathbone was instantly noticeable. In classic Canucks fashion, Vancouver was peppered and outplayed early, often leaving Rathbone hanging, stuck in a defensive situation alone. Luckily, Rathbone was able to live up to the challenge, stopping the two best players in the world — Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Rathbone attempted to put two shots on goal before the closing of period 1. There was a good effort, but Rathbone was unsuccessful in hitting the net. However, his energy was up and Vancouver escaped the frame with a 1-0 lead.

Seven penalties were taken across the board throughout the contest, limiting the rookie defender to 12:04 of ice-time. This put him on the bench for a lot of the second half of the game, but he still finished the contest with a shot on the net, and an even plus/minus.

“He walks the blue line better than any (defenceman) in the league,” said Comets coach Trent Cull. “He’s a very promising young guy. It’s very exciting to coach a guy like that. His hockey IQ is very high. It won’t take much to get him acclimated.”

Rathbone’s performance likely paves the way for more opportunities. He’ll get back in action soon enough, and he’ll be an interesting player to keep an eye on heading into next year. The more experience he can gather between now and then, the better.

Next. The Canuck Way Mailbag Part 2. dark

What do you think Canucks fans? How did Rathbone look in his debut?