Vancouver Canucks reduce preseason roster by eight

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      The Vancouver Canucks made the second round of cuts to the team’s preseason roster on Friday, removing eight players from the big club.

      The Canucks made the moves after playing three preseason contests, all of them at home, and did so prior to tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

      From the Canucks:

      The following players have been assigned to the Utica Comets:

      • Guillaume Brisebois, Defenceman
      • Jonah Gadjovich, Left Wing
      • Lukas Jasek, Right Wing
      • Kole Lind, Right Wing
      • Zack MacEwen, Centre

      The following players have been designated for assignment:

      • Richard Bachman, Goaltender
      • Tanner Kero, Centre

      The following player has been released from his tryout contract and will attend the Utica Comets Training Camp:

      • Ivan Kulbakov, Goaltender

      Some others, like Windsor Spitfires goaltender Michael DiPietro, were released prior to yesterday.

      While it seems a tad bit early for some of these players, it’s hard to argue that any of them had a chance of actually making the Canucks this year.

      Let’s run through some of the cuts.

      General manager Jim Benning has long touted Guillaume Brisebois as a potential solution on the blueline (spoiler alert: he’s likely not one). The Quebec native is still only 21 and could still project as a third-pairing defenceman in the NHL, but didn’t show much if anything with the Canucks and will have to improve on the 18 points in 68 games he posted in Utica last year.

      Jonah Gadjovich had some nice moments with the Canucks in preseason as he didn’t hesitate to use his big frame and showed little rust from a cavalcade of injuries that bugged him last year. After posting more than a point-per-game in two straight seasons of OHL play, the Canucks will get to see what their second second-round pick in the 2017 draft has to offer in the AHL.

      Their first puck in that round of the 2017 affair, Kole Lind, has been progressing nicely as a prospect. Lind saw some action in Utica at the end of last season and didn’t look out of place. He also dominated at the Canucks' Young Stars Classic earlier this year. He’ll likely be counted on to play some big minutes at forward in the AHL.

      Lukas Jasek seemingly came out of nowhere and put up more strong numbers in Utica at the end of last season, earning himself a three-year entry-level deal. The sixth-rounder in the 2015 draft is now widely regarded as one of the team’s top 10 prospects. That’s quite the jump from toiling around the Czech Extraliga. If Jasek can continue to produce similar numbers in Utica this year, it’s possible he’ll see some NHL time this year when injuries inevitably hit.

      One of our favourite players in Canucks’ prospect training camp a year ago, Zack MacEwen is the type of forward NHL scouts salivate over. The Charlottetown, P.E.I. native was a monster in junior and throws around his 6’4, 212-pound frame with delight. He put up a decent 33 points in 66 games last season with Utica, but will need to do better than that to break through the ranks. (For comparison’s sake, Nikolay Goldobin, who’s still likely to start the year in Utica, had 31 points in 30 games.) But if he keeps developing, he’s definitely a player to watch. He’s guaranteed to be a Canuck fan favourite if he ever permanently makes it to the big club.

      Richard Bachman will suit up for Utica for the fourth season in a row, and the hope is that he provides Thatcher Demko with a supportive veteran presence.

      Tanner Kero was brought over from the Chicago Blackhawks for Michael Chaput and is capable of playing in NHL games if needed. He got into 72 contests for the Blackhawks and it shouldn’t be a surprise if he’s called on at times during the upcoming season.

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