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Top 20 Canucks Prospects 2016 with Rankings


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Top 20 from Hockeys Future this spring is a bit of a mystery. Here is the run down. http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/135255/vancouver-canucks-top-20-prospects-sign-franchise-health/


The Vancouver Canucks’ plan to get younger without going into a total rebuild is in full effect. Gone are veteran wingers Chris Higgins and Brandon Prust, waived and assigned to the farm in Utica. Taking up the extra minutes are youngsters such as Sven Baertschi and recently acquired Emerson Etem. Add in Bo Horvat, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen and the Canucks have a very respectable group of forwards aged 23 or younger. With up and comers such as Brendan Gaunceand Brock Boeser knocking at the door, the Canucks seem to have most of the answers to their future needs developing in-house.


Several Canucks prospects have exceeded expectations so far in their early careers while a few others have taken a step back in their development. Here is a closer look at the Canucks mid-season Top 20 Prospects.

20. (20) Anton Cederholm, D, 6.5D
Drafted 5th round, 145th overall, 2013

Anton Cederholm was one of the defensemen edged out of a spot on the Utica blueline to start the 2015-16 season. Assigned to the Kalamazoo Wings instead, Cederholm has been patiently waiting for his opportunity to get the call up to Utica. The rookie pro has been hanging in there with the veteran defensemen down in Kalamazoo and Cederholm seems to have a good grasp on what is expected of him on a night to night basis. Cederholm’s time in Kalamazoo playing top four minutes has likely been as good as or better for his development than fighting to stay in the lineup and playing far fewer minutes in Utica would have been. If he continues to improve all-around he should be a lock for a job in Utica next season.

19. (NR) Alex Friesen, C, 6.5D
Drafted 6th round, 172nd overall, 2010

Alex Friesen has been a steady and reliable player for Utica over the past few seasons and he finally earned a call-up to the Canucks in mid-February, making his NHL debut. He played just under twelve minutes but was a minus two in the lone game he played as a Canuck. Friesen is now back in Utica where he will help the Comets make their push for the playoffs. His tenacity and feistiness make him an attractive asset despite his small stature but with so many other young forwards gunning for roster spots next season it may be hard for him to secure an NHL job. He is a valuable player to the Utica Comets however, and he may be retained for another season to act as a veteran presence for the farm team while adding some depth for the Canucks.

18. (NR) Ashton Sautner, D, 6.5D
Signed as free agent, March 2015

Ashton Sautner was a bit of a surprise to start the 2015-16 season. The undrafted rearguard edged out a few other players to remain with the Comets, while some were assigned straight to Kalamazoo of the ECHL. Sautner is another project type prospect but his steady play has proven that he is willing to learn and improve any way he can. Sautner will remain with the Comets for the foreseeable future but if he can continue to climb the depth chart he may get his chance at a call-up to the big club sometime over the next season or two.

17. (18) Kyle Pettit, C, 6.5D
Drafted 6th round, 156th overall, 2014

Kyle Pettit has enjoyed great team success during his time with the Erie Otters but has not been able to put up solid scoring numbers. Now twenty years old, Pettit will play out his junior career and hope that the Canucks saw enough good things in him to offer him an entry-level contract. Pettit is a good faceoff man and is extremely sound defensively, but with the lack of offense in his game there may not be enough in the total package to get him to the highest level.

16. (17) Nikita Tryamkin, D, 6.5D
Drafted 3rd round, 66th overall, 2014

Nikita Tryamkin is now in his fourth season with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and has continually shown signs of progress. The next step is to get the hulking Russian over to North America so he can learn to play on the smaller ice-surface. Tryamkin is a pretty good bet to receive an entry-level contract this summer and if that happens he is sure to be suiting up for the Utica Comets next season. Still a few years away from an NHL job, the Canucks will be hoping Tryamkin can evolve into a punishing shut-down defender.

15. (NR) Adam Gaudette, C, 6.0C
Drafted 5th round, 149th overall, 2015

Adam Gaudette comes onto the list in the fifteenth spot due to his strong play as a rookie with Northeastern University. Gaudette finds himself among the team leaders in most statistical categories – third in goals and fifth in points – a remarkable feat for an 19-year-old playing against mostly men in their early twenties. Gaudette will continue to improve during his time with Northeastern and should earn himself an entry-level contract at some point. In Gaudette, the Canucks have a potential middle six forward, if he continues to work hard and evolve his two-way game.

14. (NR) Mike Zalewski, LW, 6.0C
Signed as free agent, March 2014

Mike Zalewski wasn’t even a member of the Canucks to start the 2015-16 season but managed to earn a contract with the Utica Comets. His strong play earned him a new NHL contract for the remainder of the 2015-16 season and a brief call-up to the Canucks in late January. Now back in Utica, Zalewski continues to play important minutes for the Comets as he tries to earn another contract for next season. If re-signed, Zalewski should be in the mix for a bottom-six role with the Canucks once again next season and at worst he has proven to be a good depth option.

13. (16) Dmitry Zhukenov, C, 7.0D
Drafted 4th round, 114th overall, 2015

Dmitry Zhukenov continues to rise up the list and moves into the thirteen spot. Since his arrival in North America for the start of the 2015-16 season Zhukenov has been producing at a near point-per-game pace for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. Zhukenov has displayed some fine offensive instincts and playmaking ability but he still needs to beef up his frame a bit before he takes a step to the next level. As a European draftee, Zhukenov will be eligible to return to junior next season or turn pro and join the Utica Comets, but it remains to be seen which direction the Canucks will choose to take with the talented young Russian.

12. (14) Guillaume Brisebois, D, 6.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 66th overall, 2015

As the captain of the Titan, Brisebois was determined to lead his team to a better finish in 2015-16 than the last place finish that the Titan produced in 2014-15. Brisebois and company have managed to get the team out of last place and has them currently holding a playoff spot in theQMJHL. Whether the Titan make some noise in the playoffs or not, the 2015-16 season should be considered a success as the Titan become relevant in the QMJHL once again. Brisebois will likely return to the Titan again for the 2016-17 season and try to lead the team deep into the playoffs. Brisebois is looking like he has top-four potential and if he continues to improve his all-around game there will be a spot waiting for him in Utica once he wraps up his junior career. With a little bit of minor league seasoning the Canucks will have a solid two-way defender in Brisebois one day.

11. (12) Andrey Pedan, D, 6.5C
Acquired via trade with New York Islanders, November 2014

Andrey Pedan is another prospect on an expiring contract that will be looking to have a strong finish to the 2015-16 season. His all-around game continues to improve and Pedan is finding his name on the scoresheet a lot more often this season as well. He was given a call-up in late November and made his NHL debut but spent more time as a healthy scratch during his month long stint in Vancouver. Now back in Utica, Pedan is addressing the deficiencies in his game and playing important minutes as the Comets push for the playoffs. Given the uncertain future of the Canucks’ defense group it seems likely that Pedan will still be around to battle for a roster spot this fall. His big frame and nasty attitude make him a good candidate for a physical defenseman role with the Canucks.

10. (11) Alexandre Grenier, RW, 6.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 90th overall, 2011

Alexandre Grenier remains a valuable member of the Utica Comets but his value to the Canucks may be dwindling. Grenier was given a brief call-up to the Canucks early in the season but didn’t make a huge impression in his NHL debut. Grenier will play his 200th AHL game later this season so he is definitely seasoned and should be as ready as he will ever be to make the jump to the NHL next season. At worst Grenier should receive another one-year contract this summer and a chance to fight for a job in Vancouver. His massive frame and aggressive style make him a good option for a bottom-six role.

9. (8) Ronalds Kenins, LW, 6.0B (Down .5)
Signed as free agent, July 2013

Ronalds Kenins was thought to be a lock to make the Canucks out of training camp this season but the infusion of youth forced the Canucks to clear some roster spots and Kenins was sent to the Utica Comets to start the season. He was recalled in December and played a few games for the Canucks but was unable to hold onto a roster spot and was returned to Utica. Injuries have played a part in slowing Kenins down a bit this year but he will be an impact player if the Comets make the playoffs. If Kenins finishes the year strong there is a good chance he will receive a contract extension from the Canucks this summer. His intensity and grit make him a good, inexpensive energy player. The Canucks may yet be able to find room for Kenins but as proven this season, he will have to outshine several others looking to earn a roster spot next season. With Brendan Gaunce gunning for that same spot it could be a tough road back to the NHL for Kenins.

8. (13) Jordan Subban, D, 7.0C (up .5 ranking!)
Drafted 4th round, 115th overall, 2013

Jordan Subban has been a real bright spot for the Comets so far in the 2015-16 season. So much so that he moves up to eighth spot on the list. Subban currently leads the Utica Comets’ defensemen in points and is second on the team only to Brendan Gaunce, a great accomplishment for a twenty year old rookie. Given the Subban pedigree and a strong desire to succeed it is likely that Jordan will eventually get a shot at NHL action despite his slight frame. It will be his skating and puck skills that elevate Subban to the next level but his defensive game has been admirable as well so far in his young pro career. Jordan will likely never be as impactful as brother PK, but a well-rounded, puck-moving defenseman is a useful asset at any level and Jordan will eventually get his chance to show what he can do in the NHL.

7. (9) Brendan Gaunce, LW, 7.0C
Drafted 1st round, 26th overall, 2012

Brendan Gaunce moves into seventh place ahead of Ronalds Kenins and the recently tradedHunter Shinkaruk. Gaunce currently leads the Utica Comets in points after Shinkaruk’s departure and is poised for a permanent jump into the NHL. His brief two game call-up to Vancouver saw him net his first NHL goal and play close to eleven minutes a night. Gaunce will continue to help Utica push for the playoffs for the remainder of the 2015-16 season in hopes of another Calder Cup run and will very likely lead the team in scoring to close out the season. His value as a big-bodied forward with top-nine potential cannot go overlooked much longer by management and Gaunce seems to be on track for an NHL job in the very near future.

6. (3) Cole Cassels, C, 7.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 85th overall, 2013

Cole Cassels drops to sixth spot on the list due to the rise of Ben Hutton and the solid play of Demko and Boeser with their respective NCAA teams. Cassels had a slow start to his professional career mainly because his summer was cut short by a Memorial Cup run and a nagging injury which kept him idle until late summer. Now that he has fully healed and caught up to the pace of the AHL he is sure to improve his point contributions and smooth out his already dependable two-way game. Cassels as well as teammate Brendan Gaunce are both very versatile forwards and can play both wing and center. With the center position appearing to be pretty well occupied in Vancouver for the foreseeable future it seems likely that Cassels may be used as a winger, at least in the short term. By next season Cassels will be one of the more important players for the Comets and he should be in line for a call-up to the big club over the next couple seasons.

5. (4) Thatcher Demko, G, 8.5D (Up .5 ranking! This is the highest of all goal tending prospects, no one else is rated 8.5 )
Drafted 2nd round, 36th overall, 2014

Thatcher Demko remains a top five prospect on the list with his spectacular play again this season for Boston College. With the loaded roster at BC their season goal should be nothing short of a national title. Demko has continued to improve on what is already a very impressive skill set. His agility and mobility are pro ready while his positioning and hockey sense are also exceptional. Demko will not be rushed into the NHL, but he could end up simply forcing his way onto the Canucks earlier than expected as fellow prospects Ben Hutton, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen did at the beginning of the 2015-16 season. If Demko does turn pro after the 2015-16 season, a year or two spent in Utica with the occasional call-up to the Canucks would be management’s preferred developmental path for Demko. Thatcher Demko is the goalie of the future for the Vancouver Canucks and that future may be very soon.

4. (5) Brock Boeser, RW, 8.0C (Up .5 ranking!)
Drafted 1st round, 23rd overall, 2015

Boeser has exceeded expectations as a rookie with the University of North Dakota, putting up points like a seasoned veteran. His scoring touch and offensive prowess have him leading the UND squad as an eighteen year old rookie. The last time a rookie player had such an impact with UND was when Jonathan Toews and T.J. Oshie broke into the college ranks together with UND back in 2005-06 and had point per game seasons. To be mentioned with those two players is a great compliment and if Boeser can continue to develop his all-around game then he is sure to be a good top-six winger in the NHL in short order. With Boeser and Virtanen the Canucks have a couple really nice prospects to man the right wing position on the top two lines in coming years.

3. (1) Jake Virtanen, RW, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 6th overall, 2014

Jake Virtanen slips to third spot on the list by no real fault of his own. The unexpected emergence of Ben Hutton and Jared McCann have overshadowed Virtanen’s somewhat modest start to his NHL career. Virtanen had a less than memorable WJC experience in Helsinki and after returning to Vancouver he seemed re-focused on what he needed to do to be a better all-around player. In recent weeks Virtanen has been given more opportunities as his ice-time has increased and he has not been a healthy scratch since early February. It appears that Virtanen has almost fully made the transition into being a reliable NHL player, now it will be his responsibility to get his game to the next level and become a consistent scoring threat. Another full season in the NHL should see Virtanen find his swagger and if he can maintain his high level of physicality and find the back of the net on a regular basis, he is sure to be a fan favorite as a power forward in Vancouver for the next decade or so.

2. (15) Ben Hutton, D, 7.5B (Up 1.0 ranking, and 1 Letter Grade)
Drafted 5th round, 147th overall, 2012

No other Canucks prospect has exceeded expectations this season more than Ben Hutton. Over the summer Hutton didn’t even appear to be on the radar as a possibility to crack the Canucks opening night roster. Hutton had other ideas however, and his play over the preseason forced management to make room for him on the team, coming at the expense of Frankie Corrado, who was claimed off waivers by the Maple Leafs. As the season has progressed, so has Hutton’s all-around game. Sheltered a bit for the first month of the season, Hutton was soon thrown into the fire when injuries to Luca Sbisa and Dan Hamhuis necessitated that he take on more minutes and greater responsibilities. Hutton was up for the challenge and rarely looked overwhelmed as a top-four defenseman and should continue to improve with more experience. The sky is the limit for young Hutton as he proves that he is willing to take on whatever role the coaches may throw his way.

1. (2) Jared McCann, C, 7.5B (Up 1 Letter Grade!)
Drafted 1st round, 24th overall, 2014

Jared McCann moves into top spot on the list given his transition from a standout in junior to a steady NHL player. McCann came into training camp with one goal in mind, which was earning a roster spot with the Canucks. Not only did he manage to do just that, but McCann was even a capable replacement as a top six center while Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter were sidelined at the same time due to injuries. Playing top-six minutes for the Canucks is a far cry from what could have been another season in junior for McCann. But he earned that roster spot out of camp and didn’t let it go, and as the season has progressed McCann has begun to display a strong two-way game and maturity beyond his years. The Canucks have a real prize in McCann, and with Bo Horvat already playing like a veteran, the future of the center position for the Canucks seems to be in good hands.


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It's a good core 1-8. Typically, the better prospect pools have at least 10 guys you know will be in the NHL and 5 that have Top 6 forward potential or Top 4 Dmen potential. I'd say we have both of those at the moment....though who knows what kind of progression or regression any of the guys 9-20 make. Hutton wasn't projected to be anything close to what he is doing now and here we are.


I am kind of worried about goaltending depth in the pool. If Demko does not fully commit to the Nucks, then all the eggs are being placed in Markstrom's basket seeing as their is nobody even remotely close to ready. Signing cheap backups is fine if your confident with your starting goaltender, but I'm not sure I'm at that point with Markstrom yet.

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What's especially strange about this list is that it suggests the Canucks have some high-flying, top-notch prospects, but I had to go to like no.45 to find Virtanen listed on HF's prospect rankings. I think the site's a load of crap, to be honest. They seem to have contradictory opinions, and most of it's based on baiting clickers. 


To be sure, though, I'm happy with the development of our key prospects. The future looks bright, and hopefully brighter again after this season. Next year should be fun to watch.

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I would probably go

1. Hutton
2. Demko
3. Virtanen
4. McCann
5. Boeser
6. Subban
7. Gaunce 
8. Pedan
9. Cassels
10. Tryamkin

I've had the opportunity to watch Subban live a few times, and the only player on the ice with more pure talent was Nylander. Subban even impressed Marlies fans. So much skill, and very hard working too. He won't punish guys physically but I think he has enough grit to hold his own. 

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The one guy who may be a sleeper on this list is Cederholm. I still think in a few years he we earn his way to the show as a solid bottom pairing gritty defenseman. The type of tough pklayer other teams will intentionally avoid his side of the ice. Then again I may be dreaming. 

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HF ratings suck because they don't have any cohesion. Each prospect pool is judged by a different person making it pointless to draw any kind of conclusion from their ratings. A player from one team could be 7.5C while an equivalent player in another organization could be 8.0C because one person is more generous in their ratings. So it's best to just ignore their ratings entirely and read the scouting reports and rankings.

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