The Vancouver Canucks Summer Showdown game once again ended the team’s weeklong prospect camp. Well, kinda. The boys climbed up the Grouse Grind today as is tradition, but the on-ice aspect of the week is over.
The game itself was quite competitive. It was clear no one wanted to lose and both squads fought hard. It also wasn’t like last year’s contest in which it was pretty clear that Team White was built to win.
This one was more evenly matched. Team White again had the more dynamic forwards, but Team Blue did have probable Team Canada World Juniors backstop Michael DiPietro in net, as well as 2018 seventh overall pick Quinn Hughes.
In the end, Team White walked away with a 6-5 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.
Team Blue acquitted themselves well after a tough start but it wasn’t enough to topple Team White, who scored in the last minute thanks to Utica Comet Tyler McMaster finishing off a Petrus Palmu feed.
Here's a few things we learned in the process.
1. Petrus Palmu is quick out there
Though it is extremely tempting, we have resisted the urge to force alliteration into every Petrus Palmu reference, as is a common theme around Canucks media.
But man, was the Canucks sixth-round pick in 2017 pouncing on pucks with pugnacity.
Palmu is hard to get off the puck and he’s fast. His 5’6 frame allows him to centre himself and fend off defenders. It also lets him buzz around the rink freely. He scored once and directly set up two goals, including a nice backhanded pass to Tyler Madden.
2. The bloodlines add intrigue
Yes, Tyler Madden had a great showing (we’ll get to that later), but the Canucks invited other familiar NHL names as well. The relatives of two current Edmonton Oilers were on hand as defenceman Sahvan Khaira (brother of forward Jujhar) and winger Isaac Nurse (cousin of defenceman Darnell) showcased themselves at Rogers Arena.
Nurse showed flashes of his cousin, throwing his body around while not hesitating to jump into risky scenarios.
Meanwhile, Khaira showed some nice elusiveness.
3. Quinn Hughes came as advertised
Speaking of which, Quinn Hughes was a sight to behold. No, the Canucks first pick in the 2018 draft didn’t score (unless you count the shootout at the end). But he was impressive, slipping away from forcheckers with ease, constantly dangling defenders and sending ridiculous passes to onrushing forwards. The fact that his teammates couldn’t handle the pucks he was sending isn’t his fault.
Hughes made his case for the NHL this season and honestly, it was hard to argue against it.
4. Tyler Madden is skilled—and motivated
Madden made clear during the game that he was one of the Canucks’ more talented prospects. He also made it obvious after the game that he’s out to prove some people wrong. He has his dad’s passion for the game, but father John, who played many seasons for the New Jersey Devils, never had his son’s offensive instincts.
Madden worked seamlessly with Palmu and scored a goal while winning every puck race he was involved in.
5. Michael DiPietro has a ton of raw athletic ability
The goalie who might be the frontrunner to start for Team Canada at the World Juniors in December was clearly put on the worst team in hopes that he would steal the game. He almost did, flashing the leather and robbing Team White of breakaway chances again and again.
Canucks fans will have an extra reason to cheer for Team Canada in December.
“I thought they were booing me when I first got out there! Then I realized it was WOO and that made me smile.” – early fan favourite Jet Woo
“I think it kind of showed what I can do and proved to some people that I was the right pick.” – Tyler Madden
“I had never heard of it until I came here, so I’ll go into it with an open mind and see what happens.” – Madden on the Grouse Grind
“I’m always a guy who wants to chip in and score goals, so that’s the biggest thing to me, developing my game to the pro level.” – Kole Lind on what he expects next year at the AHL level in Utica.