Vancouver Canucks training camp is underwayay, eyes will be all over camp this year with plenty of new faces and question marks. The rookie camp has recently started, where Russian prospect Vasily Podkolzin took the ice for the first time wearing Canucks gear. Although this year’s eyes won’t be on just rookies in training, Jim Benning and company got busy this summer revamping the team.
Starting with the obvious one. Everyone from Vancouver and throughout the Pacific division should be keeping their eyes on how Vasily Podkolzin performs in camp. Givin the Canucks recent draft success and hype surrounding the young Russian. Odds are high fans see Podkolzin take the ice with the Canucks this season, but he still needs to earn his spot with Canucks, right?. Things will be interesting to see how he plays alongside and how he performs in North America.
Matthew Highmore is an interesting storyline entering camp. Acquired in a trade from Chicago that saw Adam Gaudette going the other way, Highmore played 18 games for Vancouver totaling five points. Although the coaching staff seemed to like what they saw out of Highmore last season giving him an average of 15:22 minutes per game. Highmore is not guaranteed a spot on the team this season but he will be fighting for a roster spot and if he does make the team he’ll be a great addition to the fourth line.
Signed to a one-year deal in July Phillip Di Giuseppe has a strong chance of making the Canucks this season. The 27-year-old veteran forward has played 201 games over the past six seasons. Likely competing with Highmore for the final spot on the fourth forward line, Di Giuseppe brings experience as well as skill in the defensive zone. Di Giuseppe could swoop in and take Highmore’s roster, keep an eye out.
This season is Olli Juolevi make or break season in Vancouver and it all starts at training camp. The former fifth overall selection has not lived up to expectations thus far playing in just 23 NHL games since being drafted. The former London Knights defenceman was ranked fifth among North American skaters entering the draft. Playing on a one-year contract if Juolevi fails to make the team his time in Vancouver will be expired in Vancouver and he will be solidified as Benning’s biggest draft bust.
The two-time William M. Jennings award winner is now a Canuck, the 36-year-old goaltender signed a one-year deal in Vancouver and will undoubtedly back up young netminder Thatcher Demko. Halak comes into Vancouver as the oldest player at the Canucks training camp, with nothing to prove at camp fans should keep a close eye on the new backup who could vastly help Demko’s growth to superstardom.
Luke Schenn is back for his second stint with the Canucks, maybe. Although his spot on the big club it is not a reach to say he’ll open the season in Vancouver as opposed to in Abbotsford. In his first stint in Vancouver, Schenn appeared in 18 games averaging 14:46 minutes of ice-time, but since then the 13-year veteran defenceman has added back-to-back Stanley Cups in Tampa Bay. The gritty defenceman would be a big addition to the Canucks blue, but he’ll need to perform in Camp.
Acquired by the Canucks in a draft-day blockbuster with the Arizona Coyotes, 23-year-old Conor Garland is bursting with talent. Entering camp Garland is guaranteed a spot on the Canucks, but that does not mean fans shouldn’t give him a look. Through his first three seasons in Arizona Garland notched 96 points in 164 games. Throughout training camp, fans should be hopeful to see lots of Garland alongside captain Bo Horvat, as Vancouver may have finally found Horvat’s perfect linemate.
Gear up Vancouver, training camps going to be a wild ride as the Canucks prepare to build off their past success. New faces will emerge and young guns will shine. Hopefully, Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson will have their new contracts in no time and British Columbia can rock. Hockey is back and the Canucks are ready to roll.
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