In one of the most anticipated Vancouver sporting events since Daniel and Henrik Sedin closed out the season, the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars took the ice against their Winnipeg Jets counterparts at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.
Yes, it was a completely meaningless contest in reality. But for legions of Canucks fans streaming the game live, it presented a great chance to catch many of their favourite team’s prospects in action together for the first time.
And one started to get the feeling that all the talk the Canucks have been lathering on their prospect group might be warranted.
Granted, the Winnipeg Jets don’t have the same quality of prospects Vancouver possesses (because all of their good young players are playing pivotal roles on the main roster), but it was still encouraging to see the Canucks’ young talent dominate the Jets to the tune of an 8-2 final score.
Here’s what stood out to us.
So, Elias Pettersson is pretty good at hockey
Canucks fans have been getting excited about Elias Pettersson ever since he was drafted fifth overall in the 2017 draft and spent the subsequent year lighting up the Swedish Elite League.
He wasted no time picking up where he left off, dominating the Winnipeg Jets to the tune of two goals and an assist. He looked good doing it, too.
Don’t sleep on the other Dahlen
Of course Rasmus Dahlin, the first overall pick of the Buffalo Sabres in June’s draft, is getting a healthy dose of hype.
Dahlin is a lock to start the season with the Sabres and is one of the most anticipated defensive prospects in recent memory.
But Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen is out to prove he can be more than just the “other Dahlin” (albeit it with a different spelling).
Dahlen has past experience with Pettersson and the two (along with 2017 second-rounder Kole Lind) formed a first-line that absolutely looted the Jets, combining for seven points.
Dahlen in particular probably had the play of the night.
DiPietro stands tall
Continuing a trend started at last July’s Summer Showdown, goaltender Michael DiPietro looked solid. He’s always been athletic, but the keeper showcased more positional awareness than he has in the past.
It’s obviously something Utica Comets head coach Trent Cull and his staff will work on with the youngster in the years to come.
Palmu, Gadjovich pot a pair
Speaking of Utica, two players who figure to play prominent roles with the AHL club this year looked more than capable.
Petrus Palmu, the pint-sized Finn drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 draft had success in the Summer Showdown and continued that yesterday, scoring two goals and generally using his speed to pester opponents.
Jonah Gadjovich, picked in the second round of the same draft, also had two goals and showed an ability to use his size and hockey sense that were so prevalent in his junior career.
Juolevi looks good
One of the biggest mysteries for Canucks fans this year is Olli Juolevi. The 2016 first-rounder will likely start the season in Utica, given the logjam on the Canucks’ blueline.
But if he plays well in his first North American experience, it’s very possible he will see some games in a Canucks jersey—especially when the injury bug inevitably comes calling.
He showed some patience and smarts, forming an effective pairing with Jalen Chatfield that might continue in the AHL.
Unfortunately, it was announced before the game that Jett Woo had sustained a lower body injury and would miss the Young Stars Classic, as well as training camp. Woo will reportedly need surgery on his knee.
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