Throughout the Young Stars Tournament, we will have in-person coverage from Harrison, while I will be “in studio” back here in the Valley. We won’t be writing our usual I Watched This Game feature, as the games themselves are not what matters. Instead, we’ll be looking at the individual performances. I will be choosing the 3 stars from amongst the Canucks prospects as well as making a few other observations. Why just the Canucks prospects? Because we don’t care about the other teams. Screw ‘em.
3rd Star: Frankie Corrado
The Canucks’ fifth round draft pick in 2011 played well at both ends of the ice tonight, which was a rarity in this game. He was the only defenseman on the positive side of the ledger, finishing the game at +1, while moving the puck well and playing strong physically. He wasn’t perfect, missing an assignment on the penalty kill on the Oilers’ 5th goal, but he was the best Canucks defenseman tonight.
2nd Star: Nicklas Jensen
Jensen’s poise with the puck was delightful to see, as was his on-ice vision, showing why the Canucks picked him in the first round of the 2011 draft. His pass to Darren Archibald for the opening goal of the game was sublime and it came after he confidently tried to split the defense on the rush. He was strong on his skates, made intelligent decisions with the puck, and would have had a goal to go with his assist halfway through the third period, but was robbed by Olivier Roy, who was very good in net for the Oilers.
1st Star: Darren Archibald
The free agent signing showed excellent offensive instincts and great chemistry with Nicklas Jensen. He scored the opening goal of the game by going straight to the front of the net and added an assist on Jordan Schroeder’s goal by smartly throwing the puck on net from the corner with Schroeder and Anton Rodin prowling in front. Quite simply, he looked like he was better than most of the other players on the ice. Stronger too, as he used his size well in the corners. It will be exciting to see what he can do in the preseason.
Invitee of the Game: Karel St. Laurent
Only four invitees were in the Canucks lineup tonight. Michael Curtis mostly struggled and got destroyed in a fight, Nathan Longpre was solid but mostly invisible, while Jonathan Lessard showed some flash early in the game but no finish. Karel St. Laurent, on the other hand, was unexpectedly called into the game in relief of David Honzik, and was solid. He did give up one goal but looked sound positionally and made one particularly stunning save on Tobias Rieder, one of 13 saves.
Biggest Disappointment: David Honzik
While Honzik was certainly hung out to dry by his defense, but he also didn’t give them any reason for confidence, giving up several ugly goals. The first slipped under his blocker from a bad angle. The second goal came off a bad change by the Canucks, but was exacerbated by Honzik giving up a weak rebound into the slot.
The Oilers’ fourth goal was the worst of the lot, however, as Honzik opened up his five hole on a fluttering point shot, kicking his pad out to the right for seemingly no reason whatsoever. He then threw his hands into the air in exasperation. We have no confirmation whether he waved them around like he didn’t care.
At 18 years old, Honzik clearly still has some time to grow into his game, but he simply did not use his size effectively and looked unconfident, giving up rebounds and mishandling the puck. He did, however, make one incredible highlight reel stop on Curtis Hamilton while the game was still tied 1-1, looking like he had recovered from the early weak goal. Unfortunately, looks were deceiving.
The Mason Raymond Award for “We Need More Out of You”: Jordan Schroeder
While Jordan Schroeder did score a goal and managed to finish +1 in a 7-2 blowout, more is needed from the 2009 first round pick, who is expected to be an offensive leader in this tournament. He showed flashes of his brilliant speed and some good chemistry with Bill Sweatt, but he just wasn’t noticeable enough when he was on the ice and still showed a tendency to get knocked off the puck a little too easily. He can certainly show more and will be expected to do so through the remainder of the tournament.Tags: Darren Archibald, David Honzik, Frankie Corrado, Invitees, Jordan Schroeder, Karel St Laurent, Nicklas Jensen, Prospects, Young Stars Three Stars, YoungStars