Which Canucks prospects will make the NHL roster next?

VANCOUVER, CANADA - NOVEMBER 3: Vasily Podkolzin #92 of the Vancouver Canucks waits for a face-off during the second period of their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on November 3, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 8-5. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, CANADA - NOVEMBER 3: Vasily Podkolzin #92 of the Vancouver Canucks waits for a face-off during the second period of their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on November 3, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 8-5. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /
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Cole McWard on the ice during his NHL debut with the Canucks. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
Cole McWard on the ice during his NHL debut with the Canucks. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /

McWard is one injury away from Canucks roster

Cole McWard made his NHL debut with the Canucks last season in a five-game cameo after coming over from Ohio State, and he also scored his first NHL goal. The former collegiate rearguard was looking like a favorite to make the Canucks this year, but then they went with… Noah Juulsen?

Well, Juulsen made so many awful mistakes in his first few games that Vancouver went out and traded for an AHL defenseman – Mark Friedman – instead of calling up one they already had, and one that already played for them under Rick Tocchet. In a 3-0 April 10 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, McWard played a career-high 17:02, which happened to be almost a full minute more than Tyler Myers’ 16:11.

The 22-year-old will once again be jostling with Myers (and Juulsen) for an NHL opportunity, and it feels like it’s only a matter of time as the mistakes continue to stockpile. Myers did score a nice shorthanded goal against the New York Rangers the other night, but it’s unlikely that the goal gets him too far away from Tocchet’s doghouse.

As long as Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek continue to play well and no injuries go down, it’s unlikely the Canucks get desperate for reinforcements on the blueline. McWard looked sharp next to Hughes in training camp, and that’s something Vancouver should keep in their back pocket for the time being.

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As long as nothing happens to shake up the defense, it’ll be status for McWard and his Abbotsford peers. After a strong camp, though, it does feel like the Canucks owe the kid a fair shake at some point in the season, one way or another.