It’s finally game day for the Vancouver Canucks.
After three gruelling days of training camp, the team is set to face off against the league’s newest club, the Seattle Kraken, on Sunday night in Spokane, Washington. This contest will mark the first preseason event for both teams, in addition to Seattle’s first ever NHL game since being introduced as the league’s 32nd team.
The Canucks shared their player roster through their official Twitter account on Sunday morning in preparation for the preseason contest.
From the list, fans should be most excited to watch Will Lockwood, Jack Rathbone and Danila Klimovich.
Lockwood, a former third round selection from 2016, immediately turned heads in training camp after his dominance during the bag skate. Lockwood continued to shine during the drills and scrimmages with his speed, tenacity and surprising strength with the puck. The 23-year-old even took a run at Luke Schenn, getting the better of the big-bodied defenceman.
Like Lockwood, Rathbone also made sure to put his talents on full display. The 22-year-old picked up right where he left off from last season, showcasing his strong hockey vision and dynamic offensive abilities throughout the Group A training sessions. Rathbone does need to clean up some of his defensive fundamentals, but is still very much in the running to land the final position on the left side of the blueline.
Rathbone played in eight contests last season, scoring one goal and two assists during that span. He’ll be battling with Olli Juolevi, who once again hasn’t lived up to the hype and potential that comes with being a former first rounder. Juolevi barely survived the bag skate on Thursday, and could find himself in the AHL if he continues to struggle.
Klimovich really broke out at the last day of training camp during the team scrimmage. The Belarusian winger, who recently signed his entry-level contract after being selected 41st overall this past summer, controlled the puck well while also creating numerous scoring chances. He wasn’t afraid to unleash his violent shot whenever he had the opportunity, and he was even able to showcase some nifty passing, including this dish to Rathbone:
Each one of these players appear to be hungry and determined to earn a roster spot for the season opener, and should be added to everyone’s dark horse list for the remainder of the preseason.
Bo Horvat, J.T Miller, Tanner Pearson and Conor Garland will be getting the night off, as will rookie Vasily Podkolzin, while Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte are still on the mend. Motte is recovering from offseason surgery, while Sutter is undergoing tests based on his fatigue symptoms.
Goaltender Thatcher Demko will also be watching from the press box.
On the blueline, it appears that Travis Hamonic has yet to arrive in Vancouver. Earlier in the week, General Manager Jim Benning announced that Hamonic is dealing with a “personal matter”, which could leave a gaping spot on the right side of the blueline if not sorted out soon.
Brady Keeper is also not on the roster list after suffering a leg injury on Saturday. The 25-year-old, who signed a two-year deal this past summer, had to be wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.
Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are also still missing from all team activities, as both players have yet to finalize new contracts for the upcoming season. The two RFA stars are reportedly training in Michigan with fellow unsigned youngster Brady Tkachuk, and even took in a hockey game together (and yes, only as spectators).
Kraken beat reporter Marisa Ingemi also shared the projected lines from Seattle’s morning skate, and it appears that head coach Dave Hakstol already has an idea of what he wants his roster to look like come opening night.
Former Canuck Jared McCann is the most notable name on this list, centering the top line with Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz. McCann, who was selected 24th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, only spent one year in Vancouver, recording 18 points in 69 games, before being dealt to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Erik Gudbranson and a fifth-round pick.
Most recently, McCann played the past three seasons in Pittsburgh, where he notched 84 points in 141 contests, including 32 points in 42 games last year.
Veteran defenceman and Pacific Division regular Mark Giordano is another familiar name on this list, and is expected to quarterback both Seattle’s first powerplay unit and first defensive pairing. Forward Kole Lind, who was exposed and selected from Vancouver, does not appear to suiting up tonight.
Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00pm PST. The game will not be broadcasted on Sportsnet, but fans can take in the contest through the official NHL stream.
The team will be back in Vancouver on Monday to take on the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena.
What are you most looking forward to from tonight’s preseason action? Make sure to drop a comment below!