The Canucks prospect training camp kicks off on Wednesday, but it won’t just be Canucks prospects attending. As per usual, the Canucks have invited a number of undrafted and/or unsigned players to fill out their camp roster. Of the 31 players coming to camp and the Young Stars tournament, 11 are invitees hoping to catch the attention of Canucks’ management or, perhaps, the management of one of the other teams participating.
There’s even a recent success story from the Canucks invitees: Antoine Roussel. The native of France was an invitee at the Canucks’ 2011 prospect training camp and did enough during the Young Stars tournament to earn an invite to the Canucks’ main camp. He didn’t quite do enough to earn a contract with the Canucks, but did sign with their AHL affiliate at the time, the Chicago Wolves. His tough physical play earned the attention of the Dallas Stars and, after signing with them, had a surprisingly good 2012-13 season in the NHL, putting up 14 points in 39 games to go with his pugilistic tendencies.
The Canucks might hope that they actually signed the next invitee that has an NHL future, rather than seeing him go on to succeed elsewhere. Could any of this year’s invitees be that player? Let’s take a look at the first 5 invitees and try to learn a little bit more about them before they don Canucks jerseys this week.
Here they are, in no particular order other than alphabetical:
Adam De Champlain – Left Wing
6’1″ – 177 lbs – February 15, 1994
Sherwood Park, AB
De Champlain is known more for his fighting than his scoring. He was tied for fifth in the WHL for most fighting majors with 17 during the 2012-13 season, though he was still second on the Winterhawks. He finished the season with 177 penalty minutes and added 8 goals and 10 assists in his 60 games. In the playoffs, he has just one point, an assist, to go with one fight.
He also played in all five games of the Memorial Cup for the Winterhawks where he had no points but did finish plus-1. He has been described by Winterhawks general manager and head coach Mike Johnston as a “solid two-way forward.” With a plethora of prospects looking to make an impact during the Young Stars tournament, don’t be surprised if you see De Champlain drop the gloves at least once. He’ll need to do more than that to make the next level, however, as the vast majority of even fourth liners in the NHL were scorers in junior.
Mathieu Corbeil – Goaltender
6’6″ – 200 lbs – September 27, 1991
Corbeil is a little bit different from most of the other invitees as he has already been signed to a contract by Canucks management. It’s just an AHL contract, however, as he signed with the Utica Comets and is not actually in the Canucks system. Technically, then, he’s still an invitee.
This will be Corbeil’s third camp with the Canucks, as he attended the 2012 development camp and the 2013 development camp, though this will be his first actual training camp with the team. Since he has signed with the Comets, he’ll be battling for the backup job with Canucks prospect Joe Cannata, with one of Eddie Lack or Joacim Eriksson expected to be the number one in Utica. I suspect that the Canucks will want Cannata to get more starts, however, and might try to find him a team in the ECHL or CHL unless there’s an injury. I could be wrong, of course, as Corbeil spent all of last season in the CHL with the Missouri Mavericks.
He posted solid numbers there, posting a 2.69 GAA and .915 SV% as a rookie, good for third in the league, then upped his game in the playoffs, posting a 2.24 GAA and .924 SV% in five postseason games. Given his age and size, Corbeil is one to keep an eye on. Clearly, the Canucks like something about his game, keeping him close with an AHL contract and bringing him to prospect camp.
Mitch Elliot – Left Wing
6’5″ – 230 lbs – July 15, 1993
Prince George, BC
Elliot has a similar statline to De Champlain, with more fights than points. Elliot had 16 fights last season, leading the Thunderbirds in fighting majors and finishing seventh in the WHL. He had just 2 goals and 2 assists to go with those fights. The big difference between Elliot and De Champlain is size, as Elliot is 6’5″ and 230 lbs. That monstrous size will likely be eye-catching at the Young Stars tournament.
Elliot is back with the Thunderbirds for his over-age season and may get an opportunity to put up more points as he has been getting powerplay time in the preseason and has 4 points in 3 games so far. Considering his previous career high was 13 points in 72 games in his second year in the WHL, I wouldn’t expect too much out of him, but there’s always a chance that he’s a late bloomer. More likely, however, is that with his size he could have a successful offensive season as a 20-year-old simply by virtue of being bigger and stronger than most of his opponents.
Cain Franson – Left Wing
6’1″ – 175 lbs – March 25, 1993
This is a familiar face and name for Vancouver hockey fans, as Franson is the younger brother of Cody Franson, former star for the Vancouver Giants, and is a standout with the Giants himself. Franson led the Giants in goalscoring last season and was second in points, scoring 29 goals and 54 points in 60 games on a pretty terrible team.
Franson was also an invitee to the Canucks 2012 prospect development camp, where I made the note that he would need to add weight to his frame in order to protect the puck at higher levels. Sure enough, the formerly slight forward has added muscle heading into his over-age season with the Giants after training with his brother in the off-season.
Given his skill with the puck and ability to score goals in multiple ways, he might be a player to watch out for during the Young Stars tournament. If he can hold his own physically while contributing offensively, he may get a longer look.
Sacha Guimond – Defence
6’2″ – 175 lbs – March 28, 1991
San Francisco Bulls/Gwinnett Gladiators
Guimond is one of just two defencemen invited to camp and he comes with professional experience. The 22-year-old spent last season in the ECHL for his rookie professional season and his offensive talent stood out. He led all ECHL defencemen in scoring, with 49 points in 58 games between the Bulls and Gladiators, and was named the league’s defenceman of the year, as well as making the All-Rookie Team and being named a first-team All Star.
That kind of scoring touch earned him a couple brief looks in the AHL, playing 6 games between the Worcester Sharks and Norfolk Admirals. It also earned the attention of the Canucks, who signed Guimond to an AHL contract with the Utica Comets. Guimond was reportedly disappointed that he was unable to secure a two-way NHL contract, but that may still be in his future with a strong performance in Utica.
With his performance as a rookie in the ECHL, Guimond is definitely an intriguing player, but excelling in the ECHL and making it to the NHL are completely different beasts. The Canucks do have a player who has done exactly that, however, in Alex Burrows. If Guimond survives prospect camp and earns an invite to main camp, you can bet he’ll be seeking out Burrows for some advice.
Want to meet the rest of the invitees? Part two is up right now, featuring some high-scoring major junior players and a big power forward out of the ECHL.Tags: Invitees, Prospects, young stars