The Canucks put on their ‘Summer Showdown’ prospects game on Thursday night and while there were no formal betting odds on the game, you’d be hard pressed to find a fan willing to put his or her coin on Team Blue.
Team White’s starting lineup alone featured 2017 first-round pick Elias Pettersson, along with his highly touted former linemate in Sweden, Jonathan Dahlen and Brock Boeser at forward, as well as 2016 first rounder Olli Juolevi on the backend.
Yes, Team Blue did have Griffen Molino, who had a five-game stint as a Canuck last season, college standout Adam Gaudette and 5’6 analytics darling Petrus Palmu, but it was clear that 2017 pick Michael DiPietro (no relation to former NHL goalie Rick, thank the lord) would have to stand on his head in the crease.
In the end, Team White walked away with a 5-3 win in a game that saw the amount of players reduced each period. The first period was 5-on-5 as usual, but the second featured 4-on-4 action and the third was a wide open affair at 3-on-3.
1. OK, Elias Pettersson is pretty good.
Some chastised the Canucks for not taking Cody Glass with the No. 5 overall pick in June’s entry draft and while it’s likely we won’t know the outcome of that decision for years to come, Pettersson introduced himself to Rogers Arena in style.
And while he was outmuscled a couple times early on—understandable given his slight frame—he found his rhythm soon enough.
The Swede had two beautiful goals in regulation, finishing off a give-and-go with Aaron Irving in the first and then, in the third, dragging the puck by defenceman Matthew Kellenberger and roofing it top shelf over DiPietro.
To end the contest, every player took a shootout attempt and Pettersson made no mistake there either.
2. Zack MacEwen showed promise
On Team White’s de facto second line, MacEwen—an undrafted free agent in the summer who had a couple teams call for his services before singing with Vancouver—spent a lot of time with Boeser during the second and third periods.
The former QJHL star made the most of his time with Boeser, potting a goal and looking dangerous on several occasions. Granted, as a 20-year-old MacEwen is older than many of the other Canucks’ hopefuls and while some have simply called him a late bloomer, others have been less optimistic.
If the prospects game was any indication, however, the 6’4" forward might be able to play a complete game for the Canucks. This season in Utica will be a big one.
3. Brock Boeser has worked on his interview game
When Boeser made his debut last year, it was notable for a couple reasons. One, he impressed on the ice, potting a goal in only 12:44 of ice time. Two, his postgame interview featured a copious amount of the phrase “you know”.
After the game, in which he held the puck for long periods of time an often looked dangerous, Boeser was soft-spoken and chose his words carefully. It could be that Boeser is ready for the pros both on the ice and off it.
4. The Canucks in-game entertainment needs some work.
Hopefully the regular season in-game programming has something more exciting in store than packaging a pretaped video of Ben Hutton staring at the screen before awkwardly blinking five seconds as a “staring contest” with a fan.
5. The fans love Simon Chen
While he was mostly invisible during the scrimmage, defenceman Simon Chen garnered the loudest reception during the shootout portion of the night.
The China-born Chen spent last season in the BCHL and, depending on how long he sticks around the big club, could be an instant fan favourite.
“I think it’s gone away a little bit over the years. I’ve been away from home for the last four years. I hear it every now and then, people calling me out on it. But no, I got rid of it a little bit.” – Prince Edward Islander Zack MacEwen on his accent.
“Man, I’m hungry.” – Elias Pettersson after finishing with the media.