Watch Canucks prospect highlights from round three of the OHL playoffs [Video]

There are still two Canucks prospects in the CHL playoffs. Regrettably, neither are high-scoring forwards who provide plenty of fodder for highlight videos. Anton Cederholm made it to the finals of the WHL playoffs with the Portland Winterhawks, while Miles Liberati is in the OHL finals with the North Bay Battalion.

The three remaining Canucks forward prospects were eliminated in round three and all were, to a certain extent, shut down by their opposition. Dane Fox, Brendan Gaunce, and Cole Cassels combined for just 2 goals. The way the Guelph Storm dominated the Erie Otters might make you see Bo Horvat’s struggles to score against them in round two in a new light.

That said, the Canucks have to be happy with how their forward prospects performed. Even with their disappointing final rounds, all four forwards finished above a point-per-game for the playoffs.

There may not have been as many highlights in the third round as there were in the first two, but we’ve still got them.

Gaunce had just 1 goal and 1 assist in round three, but still finished with 16 points in 14 games. He benefitted from some pretty blatant (and uncalled) interference on his one goal, but that’s still a gorgeous shot top corner from the slot.

His assist is just a smart decision to immediately return the puck to his teammate after a turnover, drawing a defender out of the slot in the process.

Fox had an unreal first round, scoring 6 goals and 12 points in 5 games, but slowed down significantly in the next two rounds. There are rumours that he was battling an injury, but they have not been confirmed. His only goal of the third round wasn’t even scored with his lethal wrist shot, but was instead a deflection in front.

Fox still finished with 8 goals and 19 points in 14 games, but after his incredible start, it has to be a disappointing end to the season.

Cassels was still a point-per-game in the third round, tallying 4 assists in 4 games. With that said, three of those assists owe a lot to Scott Laughton. Still, he finishes his playoffs with 17 points in 12 games, good for 10th in points-per-game in the OHL playoffs.

This is definitely the end of Fox’s major junior career and it’s entirely possible that it is for Gaunce as well, unless he returns as an over-age player next season. It seems more likely he’ll choose to become professional; even if he starts the season with the Utica Comets, he should have opportunities to earn a call-up throughout the season.

For Horvat and Cassels, they’ll be back in the OHL unless they make the Canucks next season. There’s a better chance of that for Horvat than Cassels, though the latter was definitely impressive at camp last season and had a fantastic season.

Another player whose junior career may be over is Hunter Shinkaruk, who has been absent from these playoff posts because of his season-ending surgery in December. Shinkaruk turns 20 in October, so is eligible to turn pro and it seems likely the Canucks would prefer him in the AHL rather than back in the WHL.

4 comments

  1. Gary
    April 28, 2014

    Nice to know the prospect pool isn’t completely dry, but doesn’t sound like potential nhl players for next year? Can’t be many junior scorers who go straight to nhl scorer. And how different are they from Jensen at the same age (I was trying to think of previous Canuck forward prospects beyond him…and failed, which is probably another problem) – seem to remember he was fairly highly rated back then, yet by some comments on here he’s never going to make it etc etc??

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 29, 2014

      Horvat has a strong chance thanks to his ability to play a checking role. He doesn’t need to step up immediately as a scorer as he can contribute on the third line. Shinkaruk is more of a boom or bust type player who likely needs to play a top-six role to be effective.

      Fox has agitating elements to his game and enough size to back them up, so could be a fit in a bottom-six role in the future, though not necessarily next season. Gaunce has a good two-way game and may also be a candidate for a bottom-six role even if he can’t contribute offensively immediately. Cassels as well, has a strong two-way game. What stood out the most for me about Cassels at the young stars tournament last year was his work in the neutral zone and on the forecheck.

      As for Jensen, he was around a point-per-game in the OHL at 18 and 19. Horvat scored 74 points in 54 games and just turned 19 in April. Shinkaruk had 91 points in 66 games at 17, 86 points in 64 games at 18. Fox was just under a point-per-game at 18 and 19, but scored 64 goals and 107 points in 67 games at 20. Cassels had 73 points in 61 games this past season at the age of 18.

      Basically, all of these prospects out-scored Jensen at the same age by a significant amount except for Fox. While Jensen had some impressive performances internationally prior to being drafted and had to adapt to the North American style in the OHL, his junior numbers are merely good, not great.

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      • Gary
        April 29, 2014

        Can’t argue with that…cheers

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  2. shoes
    April 29, 2014

    The Canucks are not nearly as bad a shape in the prospect pool as many fans are making them out to be. If Canuck fans keep disparaging their own team……they will sport mullets before long…..and then where will they be? Working on a rig, listenin’ to C & W muzack? hahahha

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