The 2021-22 NHL season is less than a week away and the Vancouver Canucks roster is starting to take shape. On Thursday the Canucks lost former second-round draft pick, Jonah Gadjovich to San Jose at the hand of waivers and he may not be the only Canucks player that will not return to Vancouver. With plenty of position battles throughout the preseason, the Canucks have some tough decisions to make as camp winds down. Let’s dive into the fate of the Canucks bridge players.
Gadjovich claimed by San Jose.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) October 7, 2021
First off is the young scrappy forward Zack MacEwen. MacEwen is entering his fourth season but only has 55 NHL games under his belt. He is in no way a skills player but he is fearless, the young spark plug throws his body around regularly and will not back down from a fight, old-time hockey he is the type of every player needed, no a days maybe not so much. As of now, it seems as though MacEwen will not be an everyday player with the Canucks but he should be kept in the press box to start the season and fight for an everyday spot.
As the pre-season wines to an end, things are looking bleak for the Vancouver Canucks 2016 first-round pick Olli Juolevi. Juolevi has seemed to get beat out for a roster unless things dramatically change in the next few days. After a four-year wait, Juolevi finally debuted for Vancouver last season appearing in 23 games. Things were disappointing from the young Finnish and that disappointment continued through camp. At this point the Canucks are at risk of losing Juolevi on waivers but five years after being drafted fifth-overall both parties are in need of change. Juolevi’s days in Vancouver are unfortunately numbered.
After being bounced around from the AHL to the NHL Nic Petan has landed in Vancouver. A strong showing from Petan at camp has seemed to pay with him almost guaranteed a roster spot to open the season. Not only a roster spot but Petan has almost solidified himself as an everyday player in Canucks bottom six. With six seasons and 136 career NHL games, Petan may have finally found his break in Vancouver.
Travis Green on Nic Petan: He's done some good things. He's given himself a good chance. He's learned a lot over the years. He's not a young player anymore. He's one of those tough choices that we're going to have to make. #Canucks @Sportsnet650
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) October 8, 2021
Justin Bailey is entering his seventh professional season, his third with the Canucks organization. Through his two seasons with the Canucks he has spent most of his time with the Utica Comets (Now Abbotsford Canucks) playing just five games with Vancouver. Last season Bailey was placed on the Canucks taxi-squad, before playing in just two games. His second appearance came to an end when Fames forward Milan Lucic hit him from behind into the boards and shattered Bailey’s shoulder. Bailey has impressed in camp and his penalty kill abilities have likely won him a spot with the Canucks as well as played a role big in the departure of Jonah Gadjovich.
Alex Chiasson is currently with the Canucks on a professional tryout. Entering his 10th NHL season Chiasson seems ready to be an impact player with the Canucks. His ability to play on any of the Canucks four lines or either power-play unit makes him a no-brainer for the Canucks to sign. With Canucks young sniper Brock Boeser seemingly out for the remainder of the playoffs, Chiasson has seen time on the Canucks first line in practice, which just seemingly cements his spot Canucks to start the season.
Unfortunately, if Chiasson, MacEwen, and Bailey make the team Justin Dowling will be the odd man out. Entering his fifth NHL season Dowling was a mainstay with the Texas Stars. He has had a strong camp and made the case for a roster spot but at this point, the question arises, has he outplayed the likes of Bailey and MacEwen?
Acquired by the Canucks at the trade for Adam Gaudette, Matthew Highmore appeared in 18 games last season. Highmore is a strong penalty killer, but with the likes of Justin Bailey, Brandon Sutter, and Phillip Di Giuseppe Highmore’s chances of making the Canucks are slim. Unfortunately, Highmore has been outperformed at camp by many others, Justin Dowling included.
The Canucks have had plenty of question marks surrounding their depth in the past couple of years, but now their depth looks stronger than ever. With many tough decisions looming the Canucks bottom six will seemingly be completely revamped and the blue line will be filled with new faces. In fact, the only returning players in the bottom six and on the blue line will likely be Brandon Sutter, Quinn Hughes, Tyler Myers, and maybe Zack MacEwen. Things will clear up in the next few days and there will finally have an outcome for the Canucks bridge players.
Main image credit: