The Canucks wrapped up three days at Whistler on Saturday and are prepping for a pair of split squad games Sunday afternoon, one line-up taking on some Flames at Rogers Arena and another line-up taking on some Flames in Calgary.
53 skaters and six goalies participated in training camp, so how soon are cuts?
“We’ve gotta get through the games tomorrow (Sunday) and sit down as a staff,” Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin said Saturday. “There’s a day off on Monday so we’ll see if there is a first round of cuts on Monday depending on how healthy we are coming out of the games tomorrow.”
Speaking of …
Brock Boeser missed the scrimmage on Saturday, sitting out for precautionary measures for an undisclosed injury, if injury is even the right word. The Canucks downplayed it.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson went down in the slot after taking a shot to the back of the leg during the scrimmage on Saturday, but he got up, skated it off and continued playing.
24-year-old Surrey native Michael Regush, a big right wing who tallied a goal in the scrimmage, appeared to get clipped up high and left the ice during drills later in the day, but appeared no worse for wear. The undrafted camp invitee played college hockey in the US.
His lack of finish and his struggles with the 200-foot commitment during the 2021-’22 season had us wondering about the future for 21-year-old forward Nils Höglander, the Canucks 2nd-round draft pick in 2019. As in, he needs to take the next competitive step with the increased depth acquired by the club up front. So far, mission accomplished.
‘Hoagie’ has been coming in here in great shape, and that’s a good start for him,” Allvin said. “Just continue to push here, he’s a young player, but his tenacity, his speed, and all that, that’s what we want to see here.”
Friday, Boudreau went as far as to say Höglander had been the best player on the ice.
“He looks so much faster than he did last year,” Boudreau stated. “Determination. He’s definitely ready. Last year was a bit of a setback for him and he doesn’t want it to happen again. Hopefully he learned a lot last season. He’s gonna be another one playing a lot of preseason games … but let’s call it what it is, it’s only been two days, a lot of guys can look great in two days, see how they look in ten days.”
Other Sweet Swedes
Two 22-year-old Swedish summer signees impressed for different reasons; Nils Åman for his all-around play and his defensive efforts and Linus Karlsson for finding the net again and again.
Karlsson scored the Canucks lone two goals in the finale of the Young Stars Classic in Penticton against the Edmonton Oilers and he tallied two more in the scrimmage finale in Whistler. He’ll continue to develop his 200-foot game with the Abbotsford Canucks of the AHL this season, as will Aman.
“Aman, his attention to detail defensively, extremely good I thought,” Boudreau said Saturday.
Left – Right
The experiment will continue with lefty Quinn Hughes playing the right side with partner Ekman-Larsson to his left on the Canucks top pair. The fact is, they’re both quite capable of playing both sides.
“He’ll bring some really great things out of me and hopefully I’ll do the same for him,” Hughes said post-scrimmage. “He’s got similar reads as I do and we share the puck nicely and I’m sure after ten games we’ll be even better than we are now and the same thing after fifty. I’m excited to play with him, today we had a lot of chances and I think we can both elevate our games. In saying that, if I do go to the left side and I’m with ‘Schenner’ (Luke Schenn), that’ll be great too, I think we’ve got a lot of good options.”
The Canucks are enjoying the versatility.
The same can be said up front for Bo Horvat’s wingers Conor Garland and Vasily Podkolzin, also interchangeable on both sides of the ice.
“The game moves so fast, you come back to the D-zone, whatever side you’re on you just go to, so if you’re comfortable on both walls then it’s easy, it make you a more versatile player,” Garland said. “Then in the O-zone you’re really moving around quite a bit, me and Bo have spots we like to be in, same for ‘Pods’, we like to be down low too, so it’s not really a concern, whatever side we start off on for the face-off is the side we’re on.”
Both Allvin and Boudreau have been impressed with lefty defenceman Danny Dekeyser’s basic game, the decade-long member of the Detroit Red Wings organization brings 547 games of NHL experience to the rink and he remains a depth/extra option to make the club on a pro try-out.