Camp Cuts: Canucks send eight to the Utica Comets

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Canucks made significant cuts after losing their first game of the preseason. A number of the players on the roster against the San Jose Sharks had disappointing games, like Zach Hamill and Alex Biega. What is a bit surprising, however, is that of the eight players cut from the Canucks training camp, none of them played on Monday.

The Canucks assigned five players to their affiliate in the AHL, the Utica Comets, while the three other players they cut received an invite to the Comets’ training camp. Of the eight players cut, five were invitees to camp, while the other three were drafted by the Canucks. Of the invitees, three of them are already signed to the Comets, with the other two hoping to earn contracts in camp.

Today, PITB bids a hopefully temporary farewell to Ludwig Blomstrand, Alex Friesen, Wes Myron, Mathieu Corbeil, Sacha Guimond, David Pacan, Mitch Elliot, and Jesse Mychan.

Ludwig Blomstrand was the Canucks fourth round pick of the 2011 draft and was signed to a contract earlier this year. He joined the Chicago Wolves for 8 games, but this will be his first full season in North America. It’s no surprise, then, that he was cut from the Canucks camp, as he still needs to get acclimated to the North American game.

Blomstrand played against men as a 19-year-old last season in the Allsvenskan, finishing third in goalscoring among players under-20, just two goals behind top Predators prospect Filip Forsberg and one goal behind top Blue Jackets prospect Alexander Wennberg. He was older than both those players, however. Still, it was an impressive season for Blomstrand, particularly considering he scored those goals in just 30 games for Almtuna after receiving little playing time for his previous team, Djurgården and getting traded mid-season.

The reason the Canucks were high on Blomstrand wasn’t his offensive upside, but his two-way ability, which he demonstrated at the Young Stars Tournament. He quietly played solid defensively and ended up with 2 assists in 3 games to boot. He needs the development time in the AHL, but the Canucks may have a capable role player in a year’s time.

Alex Friesen was a sixth round pick in 2010 and rewarded the pick with two more solid offensive seasons in the OHL, scoring at a greater than point-per-game pace. He struggled mightily in his first professional season, however, bouncing between the AHL and ECHL and scoring only 5 points in 42 games for the Wolves.

He may get more opportunities in the AHL now that the Canucks own their affiliate, making this a very important season for the 22-year-old centre. Friesen is a feisty competitor and may have a future as an agitating checker, but he lacks size. He’ll need to do something offensively to prove he has the hands to contribute at the NHL level as a depth forward. He’s definitely not there yet.

Wes Myron doesn’t have a contract with the Canucks yet, but he’s still in their system as he was drafted in 2012 in the sixth round. Myron was 19 when he was drafted and is already 21, so he’ll be looking to earn a contract with the Canucks soon. He’s actually without any professional contract and will be attending the Comets camp as an invitee.

I’m willing to bet he’ll get a contract with the Comets, particularly after his strong performance in the Young Stars Tournament for Comets’ coach Travis Green, scoring a goal and an assist with 6 shots in 2 games. Myron has decent size and a willingness to use it to go with some decent hands. He could be a good depth player for the Comets and might be able to work his way up from there.

Mathieu Corbeil, Sacha Guimond, and David Pacan are all signed to AHL contracts with the Utica Comets. Guimond was the most impressive of the three at the Young Stars Tournament, tying Hunter Shinkaruk for the team-lead in points with two goals and two assists. The reigning ECHL defenceman of the year will look to have a strong performance with the Comets in hopes of earning an NHL contract by the end of the season. The Canucks lack a pure offensive defenceman like Guimond in their system, so he certainly has a chance.

Corbeil will either be a backup goaltender in the AHL or get loaned to an ECHL club, depending on whether the Canucks want to give Joe Cannata more starts as an ECHL starter or not. The Canucks could use another goaltender in the system and could do worse than Corbeil, who was very good in his first professional season in the CHL for the Missouri Mavericks. He played in just one game during the Young Stars Tournament, making 19 saves on 21 shots.

Pacan just never had the impact I was hoping for, finishing the Young Stars Tournament with no points despite getting opportunities with some of the Canucks’ best prospects. The 6’3″ centre had 52 points in 57 games in his rookie ECHL season and will look to build on that with the Comets. He needed to do a lot more at camp to get a longer look from the Canucks, especially when you consider that Guimond was far more impressive and still got cut at the same time.

The two invitees without contracts that got cut were Mitch Elliot and Jesse Mychan, who are both more known for their pugilism than their skill. It’s interesting to see Elliot get an invite to the Comets, as it appeared that he would be returning to the Seattle Thunderbirds for his over-age season at 20 years old. Elliot might be better served heading back to the WHL and trying to catch a professional team’s eye with some offensive production rather than turning pro now.

Mychan, on the other hand, is 21 and looking for his first professional contract, so this will be an important camp for him. He did have 41 points in 60 games in his over-age season and showed a bit of vision during the Young Stars Tournament, notching 2 assists in 3 games, along with a fight. He may have a shot at a contract with the Comets, but had no chance with the Canucks at this point.

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