When the lockout ended, the Canucks immediately called up five players from the Chicago Wolves: Andrew Ebbett, Zack Kassian, Chris Tanev, Jordan Schroeder, and Kevin Connauton. That combination certainly makes sense. Four of the five are likely to start the season with the Canucks and Connauton has a chance to make the team out of camp as well.
The move left a large number of Canucks prospects on the Wolves, but it was assumed that with an abbreviated training camp, the team didn’t want to call up prospects when they had such a short time to give them a long look. Instead, it turns out the Canucks were just biding their time. Alain Vigneault announced today that he expects to call up 6 or 7 more players after the Wolves have completed their two-game series against the Abbotsford Heat this weekend.
The timing does make sense: after all, with the Wolves playing in Abbotsford Friday and Saturday, it’s a quick drive down Highway 1 to report to Canucks training camp on Sunday, which is when camp is assumed to be starting. As long as the Port Mann Bridge doesn’t become sentient and try to kill them along the way (which has been happening), it shouldn’t be much of a hassle. The Wolves don’t play again until Wednesday, so these new call-ups will have three days to impress at camp without having to miss a game.
So who might the Canucks call up from the Wolves? Here are the 7 that I think are most likely to make the trip.
1 | Joe Cannata
This one is slightly cheating, as reports have already indicated that Cannata will be attending camp. With Eddie Lack still recovering from a groin injury, another goaltender was needed for drills, scrimmages, and the like. Cannata is a long way from being NHL-ready, but he did win his first AHL start with the Wolves. He allowed two goals early on the Heat’s first two shots of the game, but shut the door the rest of the way for a 3-2 victory.
Prior to getting called up to the Wolves, Cannata played 5 games for the Kalamazoo Wings, posting a 3.63 GAA and an .892 SV%.
2 | Bill Sweatt
Brother to former Canuck (for 3 games) Lee Sweatt, Bill has speed to spare, but has struggled offensively this season in the AHL, with just 8 points in 25 games. Still, he could find a spot in the Canucks’ bottom six in the future, thanks to his ability to get in on the forecheck, but he has little chance of making the team out of camp. At this point, his upside is essentially as an injury call-up. At the age of 24, he’s starting to run out of time.
3 | Anton Rodin
Rodin’s calling card is his slick hands, with some suggesting that he’s the most highly-skilled prospect in the Canucks’ system. His ability to stickhandle in traffic is quite impressive and his strength along the boards is improving. It hasn’t turned into much in the way of results, unfortunately, as he, like Sweatt, has just 8 points this season. Rodin is 22 and is in just his second season in North America, so he still has time to improve. That said, the lack of production is concerning.
There will be pressure on both Rodin and Sweatt to produce offensively now that the lockout is over and some of the Wolves’ biggest point-producers are expected to be playing for the Canucks.
4 | Derek Joslin
The Canucks signed Joslin during the summer after his contract was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes. Joslin has NHL experience, with 114 games under his belt with the Hurricanes and Sharks, but he’ll be hard-pressed to make the Canucks out of camp. Joslin has consistency issues even at the AHL-level, but is a good depth option for the Canucks. At the very least, he’s better than Cam Barker.
5 | Yann Sauve
Sauve played 5 games with the Canucks in 2010-11 as an injury replacement and did not look out of place. He’s a steady, responsible defenceman who may fit into the Aaron Rome mould in the future. He’s not quite there yet, as he’s struggled to earn a regular spot in the Wolves lineup. With the departure of Tanev and, potentially, one of Connauton or Joslin, Sauve should have more of an opportunity through the rest of the season to prove himself.
6 | Darren Archibald
Archibald is a long way from making the Canucks – he’s still working on sticking with the Wolves – but it seems likely that Canucks management will want to get a closer look at the power forward after his recent goal-scoring rampage. He’s useful on the powerplay as a Tomas Holmstrom-type and may be able to make the NHL at some point on that basis. The Canucks need to decide if they want to re-sign him after his contract is up this season.
7 | Alex Friesen
The Canucks’ 6th round draft pick from 2010 hasn’t lived up to his offensive promise in his rookie AHL season, but he has earned his coach’s trust, playing in 23 games and avoiding being sent down to Kalamazoo like Stefan Schneider, Darren Archibald, and Alexandre Mallet. Friesen put up three straight seasons of a point-per-game or better in the OHL for the Niagara IceDogs. With the lockout over, Friesen will have to prove that he can translate his offense to the professional game. Since he just turned 21, he’ll have some time to do so.Tags: alex friesen, Anton Rodin, Bill Sweatt, Darren Archibald, Derek Joslin, Joe Cannata, Prospects, Training Camp, Yann Sauve