Young Stars Three Stars: Canucks prospects vs Flames prospects, September 6, 2013

If you’re eager for the return of our regular I Watched This Game feature, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Since the game itself isn’t really the point of the Young Stars tournament, we’re instead looking at the games with a three stars format looking at individual performances and who stood out the most. We’ll be looking at the three best players from among the Canucks prospects as well as making a few other observations.

Three Stars

Box Score

3rd Star: Henrik Tommernes

Tommernes had a pretty bare statline in this game, with only 1 shot and 2 penalty minutes showing up in the boxscore, but he played a quietly effective game alongside Frank Corrado on the Canucks top defence pair. Tommernes is cool, calm, and collected and never seems to panic in stressful situations.

There isn’t anything truly spectacular to Tommernes, but he made nice outlet passes all game and his one shot forced a very nice save from Joni Ortio, which was the theme of the game. He showed good vision in the offensive zone as well, most notably setting up Cole Cassels for a tip from the high slot, though he could stand to get a quicker release on his slapshot.

In a 4-1 loss, Tommernes was solid defensively, making few to no errors, and wasn’t on the ice for a single goal against.

2nd Star: Nicklas Jensen

In the third period, Jensen wanted to score badly. He wanted the puck on his stick whenever he was on the ice and wanted to be a difference maker. That kind of confidence and desire can only be a good thing, though he was perhaps a little too eager to shoot the puck late in the third. That desire was most keenly demonstrated when he backchecked hard while on the powerplay, picking a Flames’ players pocket and immediately turning the puck up ice himself.

Jensen had 5 shots on goal and should have had a goal in the first period, but he was robbed by Ortio on a rebound from a Jordan Subban slapshot. Jensen also demonstrated his vision, making a stellar pass to Tommernes late in the first for the Swedish defenceman’s one shot of the game. He was confident with the puck, eager to be creative in the offensive zone, and responsible in the defensive zone.

1st Star: Frank Corrado

Corrado demonstrated why he’s one of the Canucks’ top prospects as well as the difference a little NHL experience can make. The 20-year-old was easily the best Canuck on the ice, looking solid at both ends of the ice. He tied with Jensen for the team-high in shots with 5 and scored the only Canucks goal with a booming slapshot past a Bo Horvat screen on the powerplay.

Corrado’s confidence with the puck was readily apparent and it was encouraging to see him stand out among the other prospects, particularly since many have him pencilled into the Canucks’ starting lineup. He also showed his physical side, making a big hit while pinching in the first period and battling hard in front of the net and along the boards all game.


Honourable Mentions

  • Cole Cassels had his second strong effort of the tournament, demonstrating his two-way game. He looks like a fairly complete hockey player and the scouting reports that suggested he did everything well, but nothing exceptionally well, look bang-on. He showed some good vision in the offensive zone and picked up an assist on Corrado’s goal. He even “scored” when he converted a centring pass from Mitch Elliot that actually went under the net. While everyone else was wondering how Elliot got the puck out front from directly behind the net, Cassels just roofed it. Nice shot, but it didn’t count.
  • Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk were not as noticeable in this game, though the plethora of penalties were partly to blame, as they did not skate a regular penalty killing shift. Still, Shinkaruk assisted on Corrado’s goal, while Horvat provided the screen.
  • Alexandre Mallet had a strong game, with 4 shots on goal and a fight. What was most noticeable about Mallet was his strong skating, as he has good top end speed and created some of his shots with his speed down the wing.
  • My goodness, can Ludwing Blomstrand skate. His edge work is very impressive and his stride is incredibly fluid. It’s just a joy to watch. Whether he’ll be able to pair that skating with other attributes that make him a legitimate NHLer is another question.
  • Although he allowed 4 goals, I thought Joacim Eriksson played a pretty good game. He made some very nice saves and was hung out to dry on a couple of the goals. He finished with 27 saves on 31 shots.

Invitee of the Game

Sacha Guimond had some nice moments, but he also had some head-scratching moments as well, so he falls short of being the invitee of the game. Instead, that goes to Cain Franson, who seemed to be around the puck all game. His best moment came in the second period, when he levelled a Flame with a nice open ice hit while forechecking, freeing up the puck for a scoring chance for Cassels in the slot.

Franson also drew two penalties, as he always kept his feet moving while battling for the puck. He only had one shot on goal, but he had a couple other scoring chances to go with it. He was definitely noticeable all game.

Of course, he wasn’t always noticeable for the right reasons. He made one egregious error, as he got caught puckwatching and standing still at the blueline on the Flames’ second goal, as his man had all sorts of time and space to score. Still, his overall game was quite good and definitely better than the other invitees in this game.

Needs Improvement

Miles Liberati wasn’t awful by any means, but he looked incredibly shaky during this game, particularly in the first period. He seemed to settle down as the game went on, but several things need improvement for Liberati for his next game. In particular, his decision-making was slow and his skating was suspect, as he fell several times.

His worst moment came in the second as he lost his stick in the defensive zone, then laid down on the ice in an attempt to block a pass with his glove. That decision took him completely out of the play and led to a dangerous scoring chance.

Still, you can see that there is some ability and potential there, as he had some moments in the latter half of the game where he looked much better. More of those moments, please, fewer Bieksa-slides.

Also, Jordan Subban was a bit of a mess in his own end in this game and was on the ice for three goals against, including two powerplay markers. He isn’t really a penalty killer.

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  1. akidd
    September 7, 2013

    so the early, early returns are in. I’m assuming everyone is trying their hardest after a summer of hard preparation and the early result is more or less what was generally anticipated: that jensen and corrado are closest to nhl-ready and the young, young guys probably need some more seasoning.

    still a long ways to go of course but i would assume that any truly nhl-ready prospects would tear up this tournament out of the gate. am still hoping that horvat could stick but realistically a guy who has two years of junior eligibility pretty much has to light ‘er up real good to tempt management to burn any years of entry-level contract.

    still lots of time left to summon the ‘bergeron powers’ though.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 7, 2013

      That’s pretty much correct, though Tommernes looks close as well. Horvat was much better in the first game, though, and he’ll have main Canucks camp as well to impress. Realistically, he’ll probably spend one more year in Junior, where he’ll be expected to dominate.

      The Flames have a strong team in the tournament, however, with a decent amount of professional experience on the roster, so expecting Canucks prospects to dominate against them is probably a bit much. Horvat certainly didn’t look bad, but he just wasn’t as dominant as he was against the Sharks prospects.

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  2. Baboons
    September 7, 2013

    Terrific reporting . Could you please add in where the top 3 and the notables would be playing next year if not with the Canucks ?

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  3. MJT
    September 8, 2013

    I’m taking issue with a couple of Wagner’s observations. Jordan Subban might be a poor penalty killer but to me that’s like saying an F1 racing car gets poor gas mileage. He wants to be Brian Rafalski but with his superb skating, offensive instincts, and passing he could, with a little luck, be Phil Housley. Twice he led rushes over the Flames blue line and he ran his power play unit with strong passing and quick decisions.

    There are a number of really good skaters here in Penticton. One of them is Miles Liberati. He was supposed to play on the third Vancouver defence pair but early in the first period was moved up with Frank Corrado. He and Corrado were strong, passed well, moved the puck with authourity, and looked like the best unit on the ice. I didn’t see him falling.

    Tommernes was the player moved down from Corrado to play with McEneny. That pair got the least ice time of the three and Tommernes for me did nothing special.

    My three stars would have been Frank Corrado first, Hunter Shinkaruk second, and Subban third. Shinkaruk was in fact better the first game against San Josae. He put in a good effort against Calgary, skating miles. His game was killed by the indifferent play of his centre Bo Horvat.

    Another player who stood out, but in the San Jose game, he didn’t play against Calgary, was defenceman Anton Cederholm.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 8, 2013

      I liked Subban offensively, but he is a defenceman. It wasn’t just the penalty killing, something he likely won’t do much if he makes the NHL, but his coverage was a little suspect at even strength. He was better in the first game. I like his potential, but he’ll need to improve his defensive play in order to make the NHL in the future.

      If you didn’t see Liberati falling, you weren’t watching him very closely. I saw him fall at least three times. He played with Corrado some in the first period, but Corrado was frequently paired with Tommernes later in the game. Every time Tommernes was on the ice, he made good plays with the puck, cleared it out of danger in front of the net, and jumped up at smart times when there was no risk. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Tommernes through two games.

      I thought Shinkaruk was okay, but nothing special after his very good performance against San Jose. I definitely didn’t see indifference on the part of Horvat, but I might have been looking elsewhere.

      That said, you’re free to take issue. These kind of games are always a little odd, trying to pick out the performances of individual players in a team game. Different people are going to see different things.

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