In what’s turning out to be a very busy day, the Canucks have pared another five guys from the training camp roster. Along with the already-discussed cuts of Kevin Connauton and Steve Begin, Steven Anthony, Darren Archibald, Sebastian Erixon, Yann Sauve and Bill Sweatt have all been assigned to Chicago. What did these guys do wrong?
Not much, really. All have plenty of raw talent and — with the exception of Steven Anthony — could potentially be callups for the Canucks this year. But on a team this deep, it was going to take truly terrific performances to give the Canucks’ coaching staff pause, and at this point, none of these guys had it in them.
That said, the cuts of Archibald and Erixon do come as a bit of a surprise. Both players excelled at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, but neither was given much of a look in training camp.
It may seem unfair, but obviously, the Canucks feel that they already have a handle on both players, and neither are ready for the next level.
Darren Archibald is a late-blooming power forward whose size, strength, and surprising hands could make him a valuable member of the Canucks’ bottom six in the future. However, his skating is still a work in progress. While others glide, Archibald tends to lumber, and he has a curious hunch in his stance that doesn’t allow his core to fully power his stride, instead putting too much pressure on his legs.
Like using a stainless steel colander, that’s a surefire way to strain something.
Skating like that may have been just fine at the Young Stars tournament, but you can’t get by in the NHL with improper technique. Archibald is never going to be the most explosive skater, but he can’t be the worst, either, especially when the Canucks are trying to build a fourth line they can play.
Some time in the AHL, working out the kinks in his form while getting acclimatized to the pro game, will do him some good.
Sebastian Erixon, too, was a standout in Penticton, both as a mobile defenceman and a puck-mover, but the issues keeping him from a spot in the NHL were no less ostensible: physically, he’s not ready . Granted, Erixon’s never going to be a bruiser, but there were times that he struggled with the strength of the 19-year-old prospects. Old-man strength would blow his mind.
Erixon needs time to adjust not only to the pro game, but to North America as well (both hockey-wise and in general). The good news for him is that he won’t be going through this process on his own. Not only are the Canucks sending a great deal of new faces to Chicago, but they’re sending another fish-out-of-Swedish-water in Anton Rodin. The friendship that these two have established was readily apparent in Penticton, and it can only be a good thing that they’ll be able to learn, adjust, grow, and speak Swedish together on the Wolves.
Meanwhile, Steven Anthony never stood out at all, and that’s the problem. Like Erixon and Archibald, he didn’t dress for a single preseason game, primarily because there wasn’t much point. With his skill and size, there was simply no excuse for his invisibility in Penticton (save accidentally drinking a potion of some sort). He registered zero points and finished a minus-3.
At this point, Anthony could go either way. There was a time when he was touted as a top ten NHL prospect, but that time is long gone. If he doesn’t begin to establish himself, either as a skill guy or a grit guy — he’ll be long gone too. If he doesn’t show something at Wolves’ camp, he could be one of the first guys demoted to Kalamazoo.
Anthony, Archibald and Erixon weren’t in Vancouver to battle for jobs. They were in camp to spend some time around the veterans and the training staff, soak up some additional coaching and experience, and move on to the affiliate, where it would be up to them to apply the instruction they’d been given.
Billy Sweatt and Yann Sauve, however, were longshots for spots, and they didn’t impress like they needed to.
Billy Sweatt, like Steve Begin, suffered an upper-body injury early on that cut his audition short. That said, Sweatt, a speedy checking winger that played a top line role in the AHL but projects as a middle six guy in the big show, probably wasn’t making this team anyway — not with Marco Sturm, Mikael Samuelsson, Jannik Hansen, and Chris Higgins hogging all spots, and Jordan Schroeder and Cody Hodgson impressing far more.
Sweatt got one opportunity to make an impact on Saturday night but unless he had registered an Ovechtrick, he wasn’t going to leapfrog anybody, and he didn’t. Don’t cry for him, though; he isn’t out of chances by any means. He should be first in line for a callup if one of the abovementioned guys gets hurt.
And finally, a round of applause for Yann Sauve, who made it all the way through training camp without being struck by a vehicle.
Sauve will never be a top pairing guy, but he could reasonably make the NHL as one of the bottom four if he continues to develop. As it stands, he’s not ready to bypass the Canucks’ top 8 guys (say, Bieksa through Alberts), but he could see some NHL action this season if the injury bug bites Vancouver’s blueline with the same force it did last year (especially with Ryan Parent and Alexander Sulzer doing their darndest to get him promoted ahead of them).
As it stands, Sauve is intriguing prospect. He makes a decent first pass and he’s very physical. But, if he wants to be a mainstay on the Canucks, he needs to work on his consistency and footspeed. He could also stand to incorporate a little more stickwork into his defensive repertoire, and learn when to rely on that rather than playing the body. He’s a bit of a Mister Grabbyhands.
Unless the drivers in Chicago are as unpredictable as they are here, he should get plenty of time to focus on all of this as a major component of the Wolves’ defense.Tags: Billy Sweatt, camp cuts, Darren Archibald, featured, Sebastian Erixon, steven anthony, Yann Sauve