The Canucks 2013 training camp is nearing its completion, as they play their final game of the pre-season tonight. Prospect forwards Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, and Brendan Gaunce are still around, with all three having a chance to make the opening night roster, particularly with Jordan Schroeder injured, Zack Kassian suspended, and David Booth questionable until he actually sets foot on the ice.
There’s still one prospect forward who hasn’t officially been cut from training camp: Nicklas Jensen. According to his agent, however, he won’t be starting the season with the Canucks after suffering an upper-body injury against the Oilers on September 21st.
#Canucks forward Nick Jensen’s agent Anton Thun says his client will go down to Utica – get healthy and work his way back.
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) September 24, 2013
Nicklas Jensen was checked hard into the boards by Jujhar Khaira in the first period and appeared to injure his shoulder. While that officially killed his chances of making the Canucks out of camp, his performance up until that point didn’t give him much of a shot in the first place.
Jensen impressed during the Young Stars Tournament, with a team-high 14 shots that tied for the tournament lead. He only managed to score one goal, but he was clearly one of the best players on the ice and looked ready to make the leap to the NHL. I wasn’t alone in that assessment, as the Nation Network’s Kevin McCartney agreed:
Looks like a professional-level player with elite speed, a love for contact, and a quick release shot. Owns his wing in transition by backing off defenders, which also opens up lanes across the top. Somehow the puck just wouldn’t go in for him, but looked like one of the dozen or so players who could make the jump this year.
That dominance ended once he reached Canucks training camp, however, as the 20-year-old disappeared in the pre-season. He appeared in three games, though he lasted just 29 seconds in the third game. In his two full games, Jensen had just one shot attempt and it was blocked. He was otherwise completely invisible.
It’s notable that Hunter Shinkaruk, who was picked around the same time of the draft a full two years later, made far more of an impact in the pre-season and, even without Jensen’s injury, would seem to have a far better shot of making the Canucks opening night roster.
This isn’t writing off Jensen, by any means. Jensen still played a full season against men in the Swedish Elite League, finishing 11th in goalscoring — easily first among players under-20 — with 17 goals in 50 games. What he struggled to do, however, was translate that success to North America, where he scored just 4 points in 20 games with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.
If Jensen wants to work his way back to the Canucks as his agent says, he’ll need to do much better in the AHL with the Utica Comets. Jensen will be expected to produce more than 0.2 points-per-game, particularly if he wants to be a candidate for a mid-season call-up. He has the skill and ability to do it and he’ll likely be given the ice time necessary as well.
Tags: camp cuts, Nicklas Jensen, Prospects