The Canucks have had some injury problems of late, with three defencemen, two forwards, and one goaltender all out of the lineup. Compounding the issue is the performance of Dale Weise and David Booth, who both found their way into John Tortorella’s doghouse, creating more holes.
As a result, we’ve seen a few call-ups from the Utica Comets step in. Discounting Yannick Weber and Zac Dalpe, who both started the season with the Canucks before getting briefly sent down to Utica, there have been six call-ups from the farm this season. How have they done and how likely are they to get another call-up down the road?
6 | Joacim Eriksson
Eriksson has been a perfectly good backup, sitting on the bench like a champ, but it’s awfully hard to evaluate him when he hasn’t actually played any games. Thus, by default, he falls to number six on our list.
5 | Pascal Pelletier
Pelletier was signed by the Canucks to provide some veteran leadership and scoring punch to the Utica Comets and he’s been able to do that so far, leading the team in scoring with 28 points in 28 games. His brief tenure with the Canucks wasn’t as good, appearing in just one game at the end of October.
Pelletier played just over 8-and-a-half minutes in a victory over the St. Louis Blues, with the fourth line getting badly out-chanced when he was on the ice. It was a fairly makeshift fourth line, to be fair, with Yannick Weber playing at forward. Still, Pelletier didn’t give much reason for the Canucks to keep him around or call him up again.
4 | Benn Ferriero
The terrifying-looking Ferriero is second on the Comets in scoring with 22 points, so it makes sense the Canucks would give him a chance to see what he can do in the NHL. After all, he does have quite a bit of NHL experience from his time with the San Jose Sharks and had 23 points in 96 NHL games prior to joining the Canucks.
His two games with the Canucks, however, have been disappointing. With the caveat that he’s received minimal minutes with mediocre linemates, Ferriero hasn’t played particularly well, generally getting buried in the defensive zone when he’s on the ice.
While it would be interesting to see if he could perform better with more skilled linemates, as his AHL numbers and previous performance in limited games with the Sharks indicate he can put up points, he just didn’t do enough to earn that opportunity and got sent back to Utica, who need him a lot more than the Canucks do.
3 | Jeremy Welsh
I may be a little too high on Welsh, but the lowered expectations created by him essentially being a throw-in on the Zac Dalpe trade help him go up in my estimation. When he was in the lineup, I thought he was a very effective fourth line centre, combining good size with decent skating and a little offensive ability. I’m honestly surprised they sent him back down to Utica and that they haven’t called him up since.
Welsh has put up mediocre puck possession numbers in his 19 games, with a 46.8 Corsi%, but those numbers improve significantly away from Tom Sestito, who Welsh played with in Sestito’s “make everyone around him worse” days from earlier in the season. I thought Welsh had a lot of potential to contribute to a good fourth line with the Canucks and I hope he gets another chance to do so before the end of the season.
2 | Darren Archibald
Again, this is a matter of expectations. Archibald played the majority of his first professional season in the ECHL and spent part of last season there as well. For him to even get a single call-up to the NHL is remarkable, but his performance once he got here was, unexpectedly, very good, to the point that Tortorella praised him and challenged him to take someone else’s job away.
Unfortunately, his call-up coincided with a relatively healthy time for the Canucks and he didn’t last long before getting sent back down to Utica. He was called back up again before the game against the Penguins, where he wasn’t impressive in a limited role, but his performance in his previous call-up showed his potential.
At the very least, Archibald can be a useful fill-in on the fourth line and has the skating, physicality, and skill to play a bigger role in the future.
1 | Frank Corrado
Corrado has played just five games so far for the Canucks and, with Alexander Edler practicing again, is likely going to be on his way back to Utica fairly soon, where he can continue to log big minutes for the Comets. Of those five games, Corrado has had one quite good game, two decent games, one bad game, and one absolutely awful game.
The good: Tuesday night against the Penguins, where he played a season-high 12:10 and was on the ice for 10 shot attempts for and just 5 against, leading the team in Corsi%, albeit while starting the majority of his shifts in the offensive zone.
The awful: Sunday against the Ducks, where he also started the majority of his shifts in the offensive zone, but got completely destroyed. He was on the ice for just 2 shot attempts for and 16 against, finishing with one of the worst Corsi%’s on the Canucks in a game where no one was particularly good.
Still, even with that one awful game, Corrado has done a fine job filling in while the Canucks recover from injuries. Given more games, he’d likely start to earn more ice time and responsibility from Tortorella. There are certainly plenty of positive signs for Corrado, who has been jumping up in the play effectively and generally defending well, but there’s still room for improvement and growth. While he could stick with the Canucks right now, his development is likely better served playing in Utica.
With that said, it seems more than likely we’ll see him again before the season ends.